Angels Unaware ~ Yellow Banks and The Ozette Triangle, August 2020

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/yellow-banks

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-ozette

” Let brotherly love continue.  Stop neglecting to show hospitality to strangers, for by showing hospitality some have had angels as their guests without being aware of it.”

Hebrews 13:2

In the midst of a masked pandemic, as summer was nearing its end, I ventured into the woods with my youngest and her ever adventurous cousin. We came to the forest because it had been calling to Hadley. She grew up lugging weight beyond her years onto a dirt path and squatting in the shadows of the ancient greens to play games and build forts and tell tales and talk truths. There is magic in the woods and sometimes I feel like she recalls it the best. And perhaps thats why, after a long lumbering summer of nothing much and plans foiled, she was the one that did not want it to come to an end without venturing this way at least once.

A mid-week, last minute trip didn’t allow for the hubs or any of the siblings to come along with us so when Hadley was asked who she might want to join us instead, Joshua was her natural choice. He feeds on adventure and comes with a boisterous spirit born to entertain. Everything is fantastical to him. His pack was too big and lopsided and his pants kept falling down. But, as we stepped out onto the sandy shores of the North Coast his jaw dropped and he did what we all should do as our eyes meet that place where land and ocean collide, he sat in unabashed awe. And as our short little trip progressed he never faltered. He was our magnifying glass and through his eyes everything was bigger and bolder and more distinct.

This rugged shore centered the three of us and left us walking out together, a little lighter and brighter and bolder than before. The beauty of the wild and the soothing salty air have a way of rejuvenating those who wander here but along the way we also crossed paths with a stranger who left a lasting impression upon us all as well. It was a small moment that cannot be defined by the words we shared, but rather the way this wanderer carried himself and how his bright eyes shone. And how he left us all aghast, with Josh magnifying the brilliance of the meeting in his grand and gallant way and Hadley honoring it. How amazing it is to cross paths and be moved by ones pure essence. An embodiment of goodness and grace. I long to entertain strangers like that, to be that kind of stranger. Maybe he was just a man. But, to us, he was angelic. Transcendent. True. And somehow otherworldly. He did not wear a mask or step aside to avoid the air that filtered out of us into the misty breeze. He was not concerned with the things of this world. He just wanted us to watch our step, so we didn’t sink deep into the muck that had washed up on shore. It was as simple and as beautiful as that.

Theres a lot of muck washing up on the shore these days. Sometimes the shortest route is to just trudge right through it. To call it unavoidable. And then moan and complain and ramble on in disgust as we sink deep into the slimy mess of it all. But, there is always a way around the muck. There is no need to sink deep. Brotherly love can continue through it all.

Maybe we all have a little bit of angel in us just waiting to be entertained. I need people in my life, like Hadley, who long for the truest forms of pleasure and urge me to venture there. And like Josh, who see things fresh and new and knows just how to augment whatever is before him, making it even more grand. And like that stranger, who reminded us that we leave impressions of our being wherever we travel, and that goodness and grace are the truest and purest kinds of imprints we can make in this world.

On the sandy shores of the North Coast I walked with God. Certainly He was in the soothing sand beneath our feet and the rolling waves upon the shore, the sun that set the skies ablaze and the salty breeze dancing with the trees. But, He also lingered in in the spirit of my little girl and in the sparkle of my nephews eyes and resonated in the spirit of a stranger clothed in white. I saw my God in everything.

Even in the muck – He is there. In all of us. In everything. I hope we don’t stop seeing the beauty in this life or the blessed bits of God hidden within it all, within us all.

I hope we can learn to choose a better way.

We’ve ventured out onto Washingtons wild shores many times before, but we usually start out at Third Beach and head south from there. However, Hadley was itching for a new adventure – so we drove further north this time and set out to explore the Ozette Triangle and its neighboring shores.
At this ‘point’ in the triangle you can either head left to Sand Point or right to Cape Alava. Campfires are not allowed along the triangle but if you head south a bit, at Sand Point, you can spark up your camp spot a bit and roast some mallows at the days end – so we went left, aimed for Yellow Banks and some toasty treats.

The Ozette Triangle is split up into three sections, and only one of them has ocean views. The triad journey begins and ends in the lush forest traipsing along boardwalks most of the way.

But, after a few mild miles the view opens up wide and wonderous.
We veered left and headed around Sandy Point.
And then breezed along the sandy shore for a while.
There are a couple of spots along the way that can only be crossed at low tide, this being one of them. We ran into some seaside muck and tried to just trudge right through it instead of strategically avoiding it, by creeping and crawling around the rocky edge of the shore. But, we sunk up to our knees right away. So instead of becoming one with the guck, for fear of what may lie beneath it all or slipping and falling face first into its salty grime, we rerouted and scaled the walls instead.
The obstacle course of rocks ended up being our favorite part of the journey.

Josh was enamored with the crazy terrain and Hadley had to stop and admire every little creature we passed along the way.

It was a slow journey and once we were up and over it all, we realized we could have slipped through this magic passage hidden in the rocks and skipped it all together.

None the less, we found our way back down to the easy breezey sandy shore .

Yellow Banks is known as a golden stretch of sand far less traveled than the triangle further north and I was really looking forward to pitching our tents on its tawny tread but the best beachy spots were already taken and just beyond this bouy bound beauty Hads and Josh ventured off into the woods and found themselves a tree fort they just could not part with.
The next think I knew they were pulling me and my beachy dreams up along this steep rope course.
To this lofty perch.
You would not believe the amount of beach trash that was up there. Why anyone would lug anything up that high is beyond me. But, Hads knows how I feel about the these sorts of things and that I had compromised to live up in the trees – so she spent her first hour at camp untrashing it, and transforming it into a lovely fortress, just for me:)
Then we found our way back down to the sparkling shore and I nestled in to a good book in a sweet spot, dozing on and off under the warmth of the sun’s kisses…
while these two went exploring.
And then they were back and our fort in the trees was calling them home.
So we headed back to our lofty ledge and they Gubbed and grubbed,
while I ‘hung’ out in the trees just listening to their delightful ramblings.

The sun danced between the shadows of the trees, flitting down on us all afternoon while we played and laughed and lounged around.

There was some wrestling and antics and a stunt show or two.

And then brief moments of just being still.
Sitting on the edge – where the forest meets the sea.
Each of us knowing it was sacred in a simple and yet intricate sort of way.

And then, just like that, the day slipped away.

So, we sparked up a fire, boiled dinner and roasted mallows of sugar on the end of sticks.

And then snuggled up in our domes and drifted off into a long and drifting, dreamy sleep.
I woke long before the kids but we had to wait for the tide to roll out before we could head back to the Triangle. So, I let them sleep for a few more chapters.
And then, even after they rose, we let the morning tick along slowly with the tide.
There were some last minute shenanigans as we bid farewell to our cozy little camp up in the trees.
Then we scaled back down the walls from which we came.
Joshua would rather be ahead than behind. So while Hads and I slowly and steadily headed down the steep roped slope, he plummeted down it, leaping and lurching from tree to tree barely using the ropes at all and hollering all the way – reaching the drifts of
once-upon-a-time trees long before us. On rare occasions, such as this one, when no one was looking, we would find Joshua being still, just taking it all in. No antics or stories or beat boxing. Just him and his magnifying glass eyes – savoring the wild shores.

These still moments surprised both me and Hadley and this time it was her that urged me to capture it. Like he was a rare creature that had been tamed by the retracting pulse of the tide.

We had grand plans to make it around the rocky finger up ahead by slipping through that little hole in the wall we discovered on our way in. But, before we made it to the warp zone in the rocks a white figured appeared up ahead.

And this is where our ‘stranger’ comes in.

From a distance he looked like an astronaut, clothed in white from his head to his toes, bouncing along a moonscape, light and airy like. As we got closer we realized he was just an older fellow clothed in the most unlikely hiking gear. A white brimmed hat sat upon his white chin length locks and he was sporting a white linen shirt and pants and what looked like white flyknit tennis shoes. He carried a sack like pack upon his back, like nothing I’ve ever seen, made of a brown burlap material and he walked along casually with a beautiful long drift of wood as his walking stick. I made the kids stop and wait for him to pass, in case he was like most people who passed us by and feared the germs that might be lingering in our precious breaths. But, instead of just quickly passing us, he stopped and greeted the three of us with a gentle, congenial smile.

He had just passed around the rocky bend we were hoping to warp through and before that, the piles of murky muck that we had sunk into the day before. He wanted us to know that it looked as if it was just your usual ocean gook washed ashore, but if we tried to tread right on through it, we would sink deep. He said it would be safer to hug to the rocky shore and go the long way around. As he spoke his eyes sparkled and there was tender sort of kindness that wafted off of him, seemingly flitting around in the air around him. It was just a cordial warning about the path ahead. But, somehow it seemed like more. Somehow he seemed like more.

So, much so that after he went along his way we all turned back in awe and felt a dire need to capture evidence of his existence.
I told Hadley and Josh about that bible verse in Hebrew’s that speaks of entertaining angels unaware and with that wide and wondrous way they both see this world, they unanimously and enthusiastically agreed there was something other worldly about him, agreeing he was the most wonderful and blissfully eccentric stranger who had ever crossed their paths.

We knew there was muck ahead. We had stepped in it before. But, perhaps it was a parable of sorts.

“Don’t walk through the muck of this world my friends. It’s deeper than it appears. There is a way around. Passing this way can be an adventure rather than a trudge if you choose. Chose the adventure instead.”

Full of awe and wonder we watched our white frocked friend shrink off into the distance and then we found our little tunnel and slipped on through to the other side.
We imagined our day would consist of a five mile walk down the sandy shores from we came and landing somewhere magnificent near Wedding Rocks.
But as soon we passed Sand Point and started across the ocean side of the Ozette Triangle the sandy shores we had so easily traipsed upon all along the way transformed into a rocky and rugged terrain.
Compared to the lofty heights from which we’d come it would have been easy to trudge this way rather than traverse it as adventurers. But, Josh kept our spirits up as he beat boxed an endless babble of blundering blurbs all along the way. His endless rhymes kept us entertained and light long after our feet tired and hopes of another night on the sandy shore dissipated.
We found some more marvelous holes to crawl around in.
And then right around the shores of Wedding Rocks we passed this poor fella. The discovery of his dilapidated body, the endless run of rocky beach and no signs of fresh water had us all thinking about changing our 5 mile plans into 10 miles and just heading on out to hamburgers, milkshakes and the lofty luxuries of home.

And then before we knew it, we were long past the matrimonial rocks and Cape Alava was sprawling out before us where we made an unanimous adventurous decision to boil our dinner for lunch and finish the triangle in one day, rather than two.

I was pretty proud of these two. Their might and their minds and their lasting laughter were such gifts to me.
With full bellies and spirits we climbed back into the forest.
And traipsed along the boardwalks.

Until we came to the point at which it all began.

I left the forest thankful, as always. But it was a different kind of gratitude. this time. As we made our exodus I was grateful for more than just the wild and the truths I usually find there. I was thankful that these kids, growing up in a world strewn with muck up to their knees and rough and rocky shores stunting their grand plans, still believe in the mysterious and the magical, and choose to find wonderment in the strange, and seek out lofty refuges – transforming them into fin fortresses when some only see dark dank spaces full of garbage. I am thankful, not just that I get to walk this way, but I that I get to walk this way with them – and see the world through their eyes, magnified and magnificent.

May we all be angels, unaware – full of goodness and grace, helping each other avoid the muck and guiding each other along the way. May we see the God within us all and love each other gosh darn it. Even those whose ways and wears and words seem strange to us.

May we choose a better way.

The Miles

Day 1 ~ Ozette Trainhead to Yellow Banks – 5 miles

Day 2 ~ Yellow Banks to Cape Alava and Out – 10 miles

Total Miles ~ 15

PS – I would not trade the experience of this trip for all the world, but when we venture this way again we will definitely head back down South to Third Beach or maybe Yellow Banks and beyond. I prefer sandy shores over rocky ones and so do the kids, so the Ozette Triangle (although pretty in its own mysterious and lapidarian sort of way) was not really our cup of tea:)

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