Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beached Again

The rest of the trip, with meat.

Not every day is a bad day. A lot of them are pretty good, considering that I'm made of meat and have to put up with all that goes with that.

Amazing, when you think of it, that meat can think at all, let alone have fun. What it thinks about depends on how it's been prepared and who it knows.

So there I was, on the beach, after a night in bed, rolling over and over again, trying to escape the pain of being an old fart but enjoying my little tent-like thing, with the sun just up.

And after a first couple of days of mistiness and breeze, suddenly there was sun everywhere. And a placid sea quietly licking the beach, and occasionally giving it a loving suck.

Eventually I lost the feeling of tentativeness. My apprehension that the weather would close in again faded as the sun rose and breakfast began turning itself in to more meat. Especially since that meat was me, and I had a camera.

This beach was the one I came to in November, 1980, my first real backpacking trip. No one went backpacking in winter, on the ocean, then.

The evening when I got to this place (in 1980), I went out on the beach, where a small stream flowed from the forest into the waves, and filled a water bottle.

There was a sort of edge sticking up out of the sand, a curved thing. Like the lip of a clay pot. So I grabbed it and pulled.

It didn't move. So I dug at it and found that there was more of it below the surface. After more tugging and digging with my hands I saw that it was a bone. Big one. A vertebra, a big one.


Part of a whale kit that had spilled onto the beach. That was the only piece I found though.

I packed the bone out and eventually gave it to a schoolteacher.

No bones this time. A few deer, lots of sun, and gentle waves. I noodled up and down the beach with the camera and enjoyed it all.

One of the deer came quite close, looked me in the eye, and told me where a treasure was buried, but when I went over there it was just a pile of droppings. The story of my life.

In winter this is a great place but it can be uncomfortable.

Usually it's dark, and then there are the storms, and it's always damp, and cool in winter. Mostly I've had good luck with the weather, and lots of solitude, though over the years more and more people have appeared in winter.

Thanksgiving is still a good time. People stay home for that, and if you hike in a few miles, you have a good chance to find some solitude.

Christmas, oddly, is more crowded. Somehow that seems to be a holiday people want to escape, at least those misanthropes who believe that backpacking in winter next to the waves is a thing to do.

The good thing though is that if you do see someone out here in winter, it's going to be someone like you. Assuming you know how to deal with that.

One winter I went out in the rain for a hike up the beach and back, and on the way back to my tent I met a woman, also swaddled in dripping rain-wear, soaked too, going the other way. We each smiled and said hello as we passed and that was about it.

Another time, in August, the only summer time I've spent out there, I passed a young man and his girlfriend. They had climbed all the way to the top of a sea stack, which is crazy stupid but I guess they knew what they were doing. After getting back down with all their body parts still attached they began hiking south, toward the exit, which was still miles from there though.

I was going the other way, back to my camp.

The guy was wearing boots and a backpack at that point. Nothing else.

His girlfriend was a few feet behind him, looking embarrassed and smiling too much.

Obviously one of them was making a statement. But hey. The other was too, kinda.

Hike your own g'damn hike. S'OK by me and all.


Map: ONP-WildernessMap.pdf (1395k) shaded relief

Map: opr00AWS.pdf (1105k)

Previously Beached.

And now, a short visual poem composed entirely of meat.

Pile of rotting blubber.

More pile of rotting blubber.

Even more pile of rotting blubber.

Yet even more pile of rotting blubber.

You may be what you eat.

But greed is not always a good strategy.