Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Enchanting Trees of the Cape Trail

Do not rush to the Pacific Ocean end point of Cape Flattery Trail. The trial map suggests you can hike there in 20 - 30 minutes; but if you move at that pace, all you are doing is going from Point A – the trail head parking lot - to Point B – the cliffs of the rugged Olympic Peninsula coast line. I slowed my pace, lingering for photos and quiet moments on the trail. I saw more than the Washington Pacific Coast.

I stepped aside to let the unleashed energy of the Boy Scout Troop from New Jersey dash by me. I straddled a muddy puddle so the teenage girl wearing inappropriate shoes - flip flops – and her boyfriend in Nikes – at least he had better sense – could pass. And, I lingered at the end of a section of the trail’s narrow boardwalk taking photos so a very pregnant, waddling young woman and her partner could easily keep their cautious, steady pace. I was so alone on the trail by letting others pass that a deer crossed slowly in front of me. I completely lost track of Ed who I knew would wait for me at the end of the trail.

Let me tell you what happened when I slowed down on Cape Flattery Trail…

The forest enveloped me as I left the trail head area which was wide enough for passage of a single vehicle and I moved down the narrowing path. A hand-holding couple might squeeze through the trail side-by-side, Ed and I walked this way for a bit. Then, single file, and then separately, is how Ed and I made our way along the path.

Under the canopy of trees, sunlight dimmed and the towering trees cast shadows keeping the air cool and damp. I enjoyed the warmth of my oversized PITT sweatshirt and the cool air on my cheeks.

I saw trees shaped by the elements of wind, rain, and trauma of winter. They created a forest that if animated to life by Disney, the tress would certainly play the role of frightening, advancing villains. The exposed roots from these trees looked like they had petrified to shiny worn stone in places where they protruded across the trail. In other places, the roots looked like human arteries beneath the smooth trail surface. Hollow trunks of tress gave shelter to small animals. And, fallen giant trees created habitat for the carpet of green mosses and new growth of ferns.

Occasionally, I could catch a whiff of the salty Pacific air or the scent of the wet earth from the earlier rain.

I crossed wet areas on neatly constructed boardwalks. I carefully stepped over roots. I used strategically place rocks as steps up and down the varied terrain. I aligned my stride to step on the age-ringed circles of trees cut to make a section of trail. I paused to remove my shoe and shake a pebble from its heal. And, I wondered how the trail builders managed to set a heavy picnic table such a long way from the trail head.

I stopped and took a photo of a young couple who asked me for the favor. I jockey for space around a tree while another amateur photographer moved and focused his shot.
I passed some people along the Cape Flattery Trail who said “Hello” and others who kept their heads down not making eye contact. And, there was one lone man coming in the direction from the trial’s end who felt compelled to tell me in nearly an awed whisper, “I’ve never seen a place so beautiful.” He must have taken the trail slowly too.

Cape Flattery Trail runs through Makah Indian Reservation.
A $10 visitor’s pass can be purchased at the
Makah Cultural and Research Center Makah Museum in Neah Bay, Washington.
The pass is valid for one year from the purchase date.

The map we obtained at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center,
printed by the National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior,
incorrectly shows the road to Cape Flattery Trial as unpaved from Hwy 112 in Neah Bay.
The road is paved easy to navigate.

July 26, 2008

No comments: