Friday, August 12, 2011

Ozette Lake Visit 2011

We were able to scrape together a few days of summer vacation for our family to spend at Ozette Lake, in the Olympic National Park this summer. This year, Kathleen, Shannon, and J. R. Thurgood came up with us to the lake, bringing his dog, Amelia. It was J. R.'s first family camping trip with us, and we enjoyed both J. R. and Amelia, very much.

Swainson's Thrush sang us to an early sleep, and all of us looked forward to hiking out to the Cape Alava in the morning.

The weather was great for hiking in the Olympic National Park, and we walked the boardwalk, taking the trail to Cape Alava. I've walked this trail in November, in wintery weather, and you can quickly be dealing with hypothermia while walking along the exposed, wet and windy coast. This hike would reward us with perfectly warm, pleasant weather. The boardwalk was in great condition, with only a few sections needing any maintenance. We brought a great lunch with us courtesy of Shannon and J. R's culinary talents, and found large, sun-warmed logs to lean against, and sit for awhile.

The sun was shining on the exposed tide pools when we reached Cape Alava, and the tide was still going out. Phil and J.R. walked out towards Ozette Island after lunch, exploring tide pools, then they walked all around Cannonball Island at low tide. We were in awe at their energy.

We stayed on the beach where we could see Ozette Island, and enjoyed the beautiful view of the ancestral lands of the Makah and Ozette people. We listened to sea lion pups calling for their mothers, while sitting in the warm sand, and sorting seashells found around the myriad tide pools. Kathleen and Shannon spotted one of the seal pups, with white fur against the dark rocks, in an adorable face. We could see his black-rimmed eyes plainly through our binoculars. The tide slowly returned, he and his mother disappeared into the waves.

As we walked back on the boardwalk, we stopped frequently to take photos here and there. Ahlstrom's Prairie has to be one of the most beautiful, idyllic views in the Olympic Park. The colors, and the gentle breeze across the soft grasses, make you forget how wild and rugged life can be along this last stretch of continental America's wilderness. We were able to take several wonderful photos of this Eden-like place hidden in the rain forest. Then, it was back to Ozette Lake, to collapse in wonderful exhaustion around the fire.

We added some of the firewood that Joshua Stroud had chopped in 2009 for the cabin's wood pile, into our beach fire. We named, "The Joshua Stroud Memorial Woodpile" in his memory. He'd never chopped wood before, and he discovered he was naturally good at it. He so enjoyed chopping the wood, he chopped wood the rest of the day! He smiled broadly as he told us he'd felt so great making that pile grow, and he wasn't a bit sore later.

We'll always remember Josh, and the rest of our family that has passed on, as we gather together around the Ozette beach bonfire, where warm hearts meld together.

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