Third one down

Waterfall, Third Beach. Photo: Ken Campbell

The third section of the Ikkatsu Expedition is in the books. We left La Push last Monday afternoon, with a few folks from Surfrider and a Japanese media delegation there to see us off. Three days later, we finished up at Ruby Beach on a sunny, summer morning.

This leg was a bit shorter than we had first projected, since we couldn’t go out to Destruction Island because of nesting cormorants and marine mammal concerns. (We did get permission to go out next month, and we are looking forward to it. More on that later.) This section wasn’t big on miles but it was huge on beautiful scenery and excellent paddling.

From La Push, we went to Third Beach for our first camp. We would have gone farther, but the crew from Asahi TV wanted to film us doing a survey and had a plethora of questions for us there on the sand. Third Beach was really the only accessible spot that would work for them, so we decided to cut the first day short to make that happen. The weather was cloudy and cold, especially for August, and we didn’t come across too much debris there at that spot; because it is such a heavily-visited part of the coast, Third Beach gets cleaned up with some regularity.

The next morning we set out again, going south through the Giant’s Graveyard, through the miles of standing stones and offshore rock gardens that make this part of the coast so unique. Close in, the cliffs dropped hundreds of feet from the forest above to the water’s edge and little waterfalls skittered and gurgled down the rocks. Around Toleak Point, the paddling turned even more spectacular, with caves and arches to be explored and the stunning beauty of Goodman Creek, where we turned out boats inland, away from the roar of the surf and into the quiet of a backcountry stream.

Deep inside a sea cave, looking west from underneath Toleak Point. Photo: Ken Campbell

We camped the second and third nights at Mosquito Creek, where we did another survey and had a chance to paddle empty boats out to Alexander Island. We gave the seals on the rocks a wide berth and enjoyed watching the pelicans and the puffins as they eyeballed us going by.

The last morning we were up early and got out onto the water before the wind began to really get serious. (The forecast had called for gale force winds later in the day and it was our plan to be on shore at Ruby Beach by the time that happened.) On the way, however, we still had time to dawdle past Hoh Head, duck in and out of a few more caves and surf some of the glassy swells just north of the Hoh River. From the river mouth, we drew a bead on Abbey Island, and our destination just beyond. One more surf into the beach and our hulls scraped the sand… it was over.

Sort of. As was noted earlier, we still have an out-and-back to Destruction Island scheduled for next month, and the film project is just getting started, at least in terms of getting it all put together. There’s been some talk of putting together an educational program for a couple of the local high schools that will do some survey work this fall and winter along some of the same coastline that we covered, so there’s that in the works as well. “Over” is a tricky word. But most of the paddling is behind us anyway… where we are going next is still a matter of some discussion.

More to follow, we’re sure about that.

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