Hole-In-The-Rock February 18 – 21
President’s Day Weekend….the weather window opened up on the Washington coast and we headed out there for some coastal backpacking as a family. We intended to backpack up to four miles in one direction and we knew just leaving the parking lot was going to be a major achievement.
Backpacking the Northern Washington coast poses its own unique beauty and remoteness. It took us 3.5 hours to drive there. Imagine keeping kids entertained for that long. We arrived on a Saturday around 2:30 and the sun was out and winds were going about 10mph. We sorted a little more gear, threw our packs on, permit in hand, and headed north along the coast.
It was a beautiful trip to our campsite. The kids were so excited to hike along the waves of the Pacific Ocean. We ended up only making it about 2 miles up the coast. I was concerned about the tide coming in and finding a campsite. We chose the perfect campsite near Hole-In-The-Rock. As the sun was dropping, we were quickly setting up tents and making our home for two more days. The two older kids jumped right in setting up their tent and unpacking all of the sleeping bags.
We sat on a large piece of drift wood on the beach and ate our dinner as the sun disappeared. I wanted to rush back to our tents and get warm but my husband thought it would be a great time to bring our sleeping bags out to the driftwood and watch the beach get really dark. We all laid back, snuggled together and enjoyed watching our small world get really dark and watch the stars reveal themselves. The kids tried to figure out different constellations. For us, stars are rarely seen in a region that stays overcast most days.
Around 11:00 we finally decided to go sleep in our tents. We brought two two-person light weight tents. This was the first time I was not sharing a tent with the entire family. I feel like I hit a major milestone of “letting go” with my oldest two by letting them sleep in their own tent…..just two feet away from my tent.
The next morning, everyone woke up at different times. I awoke first and ran out to enjoy the sunrise and see just how close the tide was to our tents. The tide had come within six feet of our tents, but our tents were also on a short bluff that probably rarely sees the tide. I felt like I was in heaven with the tide coming so close to our tents, the sun warming up our small part of the world and enjoying the peace that comes form sitting next to the ocean. Eventually everyone woke up and met me for breakfast on a piece of driftwood. Oatmeal on the coast. Perfection.
We decide to keep the day pretty low key and hike north for another mile. The plan was to go find some tide pools for the kids to explore. We headed up the coast to an outcrop of large rocks that are revealed when the tide goes back out. The kids found many sea anemones of different colors, small fish, crabs and starfish. They were so excited to find sea life and to jump from rock to rock between waves. We ate PB&J (with some salami….that was gross) out on the rocks that were a good 100 feet off of the coastal beach. What a treat.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the beach. There were so many logs to play with, rocks to climb and sand to dig into. This was truly heaven for little kids. I have learned that you have to have some adventures where the bragging rights are not in how many miles you hiked or how difficult the route was but how much time was spent just sitting and exploring.
That evening J-Hawk worked on trying to build a camp fire. He succeeded for about thirty seconds but the wood was just too wet. I enjoyed some quiet time as I watched the kids play and waited for sunset to get some pictures. As I sat on the beach, I was surrounded by what seemed like a dozen professional photographers. It was the perfect weather window for them as well. Vivian was barely learning to walk and the sand on the beach was just too much for her. She spent the evening crawling all over the beach in front of our tent.
Rosabell and Jonathan literally hiked back to the car and went into town. Rosabell just didn’t want to use the woods and Jonathan really wanted a coffee. Lesson learned… backpack far enough away from the car that the thought of hiking to the car and back is not an option. We waited until they got back to eat dinner and we eventually saw two headlamps heading north in our direction.After dinner we all squished inside on of the two person tents and talked and told jokes until we were all tired. There was a sadness as the kids went back to their tent knowing when they woke up it would be time pack up and head back home.
Everyone was up pretty early the next day to see the sun rise and watch the tide come close to our camping area. We spent the morning basking in the sun again while eating breakfast and then slowly packed everything back into our packs. We met a retired guy who spends many days backpacking and cleaning up the coast after weekends. He had already collected up a dozen bags of trash that other backpackers/hikers carry on their way out.
We ventured over to some rocks and tide pools one last time before we headed back toward our busy lives. The kids enjoyed exploring the area until we finally made them put their packs on. We slowly headed south along the beach to the car.
I think everyone agreed that this was the most enjoyable family backpacking trip we have had. It may have been the most logistically challenging due to getting everything packed and carrying a baby carrier but we explored a new area, hit a perfect weather window and kept the miles/elevation to a very low.
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