Thursday, June 29, 2006

Washington Coast Hike - June 18, 2006

Adventure Education students woke at approximately 7:30 AM this morning. Visions of McDonald’s had been dancing through their heads while they slept. The camp was broken for the final time and the group hit the eastbound trail at 8:20 AM.

The three-mile boardwalk trail through the Olympic rainforest was an outstanding way to end the trip. Old growth trees and open meadows were enjoyed along the way. Students hiked at a rapid pace and arrived at Ozette campground at 9:45 AM.

At the campground, the group used the bathroom facilities, washed out bear canisters and kept vigilant watch for the South Whidbey School District bus.

At 11:00 AM the bus arrived. The group hopped on and bus headed south toward Rialto Beach.

The bus pulled into Rialto at about 12:30 PM. The southbound group was met with smiling faces. Everyone boarded the bus and the united group headed northeast, bound for Port Angeles.

In Port Angeles, bear canisters were deposited at park headquarters. Five minutes later, the bus took a turn into the local McDonald’s. The dreamlike spell of the coast was broken by the beep of the registers and the oft-repeated question “Welcome to McDonald’s. Can I take your order?”

The bus rolled out of Port Angeles and arrived just in time to catch the 4:30 PM Port Townsend ferry. Adventure Ed students met parents waiting with open arms at 5:30 PM in the Langley Middle School parking lot.
A heartfelt thanks to the stalwart group of chaperones: Charlie Snelling, Scott Daley, Steve Scoles, Brian Miller, Patsy Brereton and Bruce Brereton. Your strength is unparalleled.

Nels Bergquist

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Washington Coast Hike - June 17, 2006

Seventh grade Adventure Education students woke up at 7:30 AM. The group ate and broke camp. Students experienced a light drizzle as they started working their way toward Cape Alava at 9:15 AM.

The group encountered a tricky headland at the northernmost point of Yellow Banks. This headland was impassible the afternoon before due to the height of the tide. This time, the tide was low and the group was able to access the rocky route around this large obstacle. Students moved slowly on the slippery rocks and passed through two tunnels before immerging on the beach north of Yellow Banks.

The group enjoyed an easy, two-mile walk to Sand Point. After arriving, an enormous rock was spotted off the end of the point. Students and chaperones scrambled up the trail to the top. The view was amazing. All group members pulled out snacks and enjoyed resting while admiring the captivating surroundings. Cell phone service was found to be quite good and those that wanted to called home. Shortly after the calls were completed, the group headed down the trail and up the beach toward Cape Alava.

The three-mile trek to Cape Alava was fairly smooth. Several breaks were taken along the way.

After reaching the cape, a beautiful, grassy, sunlit site was found. Students set up their tents, hung sleeping bags and other damp items in the surrounding trees and prepared to scout out the area.

Several groups walked north up the beach in search of old native sites. On the way, the Makah-Ozette ranger station was discovered. The station had not been in service for some time. Further north, an open, shed-like structure was found. Upon entering, chaperones and students alike were amazed. The structure had at its center a Makah Nation memorial plaque. The plaque indicated that this sacred place was made to honor the proud people of the Makah Nation. The small structure was filled with whale, bear and shark bones as well as interesting stones, a mask and fishing nets. After spending time pondering this interesting place, the group walked north up the beach.

Mr. Scoles was found further up the beach. He pointed out a shell and bone midden where the Makah people once lived. Over the course of the day, each Adventure Education student had a chance to sift through a small portion of a side hill where ancient human debris could be unearthed. Different types of bones, including that of the whale were easily found. Also common were blackened, cracked firestones. Several students kept small whalebones as souvenirs. After exploring these ancient human leavings, the group headed back to the campsite.

At the campsite, things were getting interesting. A pesky raccoon was bold enough to walk into camp and start searching through backpacks. Several items were stolen. A number of students decided to have “coon” for dinner. Rocks were sharpened and bound to the ends of sticks. Coal was taken out of the dead fire pit and applied to faces. Food was laid out in strategic areas in an attempt to bait the thief. Patience was exercised in the tall grasses. Keen eyes swept the area, fingers ran along freshly sharpened spear points and sweat flowed freely in anticipation of the kill.

Although several spears flew, the raccoon was wise to the efforts of the proud Adventure Education hunters. Not a piece of fur was misplaced when the day drew to a close. Students laid down their weapons at approximately 9:30 PM. Words were spoken in hushed voices about the possibility of a late night hunt, but sleep eventually conquered all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Washington Coast Hike - June 16, 2006

Seventh grade Adventure Education students woke up at 8:00 AM to a light rain. Students scrambled out of their tents and prepared breakfast.

After breakfast Mr. Scoles and Mr. Bergquist took two students to the lookout spot. This time, cell phone coverage was good. The school was called and messages were left at home. After a short stay, the group returned to camp.

Camp was broken and the hikers left Cedar Creek at approximately 11:00 AM bound for Yellow Banks. Mr. Daley accepted the honor of throwing the message-in-a-bottle into the sea. All looked on as the bottle cleared the exposed rocks and splashed into the surf.

The group hiked north to Norwegian Memorial. This memorial marked the spot where Norwegian sailors were buried after their ship sunk off the coast. Mr. Scoles successfully contacted Mr. Snelling’s southbound group from Norwegian Memorial. They had gotten an early start and were working their way over rocky coastline twenty minutes north of where our group stood. Students shouldered their packs in anticipation of meeting the southbound group who had not seen, or heard from, in several days.

The northbound group met the southbound group approximately ten minutes after leaving Norwegian Memorial. Students grouped together and immediately started telling stories and asking questions. Chaperones and teachers chatted about what was ahead among other things. The group meeting lasted approximately thirty minutes and helped boost moral for the difficult hiking day ahead.

The northbound group said their goodbyes and continued up the beach. Hiking was slow for several hours because of the extremely rocky coastline. Breaks were taken at regular intervals.

Yellow Banks was reached at approximately 4:00 PM. The tide was too high to cross the headland leading to South Sand Point. There was no easy overland path. Small groups split off in different directions to explore the area.

Mr. Bergquist and several students found a group site located on a bank high above the beach. This site was difficult to gain access to because the climb was steep. It was determined that ropes were necessary if the site was to be used that night. Students found a wide variety of ropes littering the beach. London and Lainey spent thirty minutes untangling several long ropes. These ropes were tied to trees, which allowed the majority of the group to gain access to the top unencumbered by backpacks. After climbing to the top, Mr. Scoles walked through the site and found a rough path leading down the backside that was much more accessible. This new trail had not been heavily used and was very difficult to see from the beach. This path was used in transporting supplies to the site.

At approximately 6:30 PM students carried their backpacks to the group site. The ground was littered with sticks and debris. Students and chaperones cleared the ground by throwing large branches into the woods and sweeping small debris with their feet. Tents were set up and dinners were made. A stream, emptying onto the beach, was used to clean dishes and fill water bottles.

At 9:00 PM, students climbed in their tents. The group worked on journals and talked before going to sleep.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Washington Coast Hike - June 15, 2006

Seventh grade Adventure Education students woke at 7:00 AM. The entire group ate breakfast, brushed teeth, filled water bottles in a nearby stream, used the pit toilet, broke camp and cleaned up the area. In the midst of these efforts, students spotted a deer sampling some of the nearby salmonberry leaves. Also, a raccoon was spotted walking around on the beach searching for food.

Students began hiking toward Cedar Creek at 10:00 AM. A dead, putrid sea lion was encountered while rounding Johnson Point. The smell of the beast resulted in a quick retreat from the carcass. Hiking around Johnson Point was slow going because of its rocky nature.

The group finally broke onto a sandy beach just north of Johnson Point. The hikers stopped at a large waterfall and filled empty bottles. Several students attempted to dam the stream while others climbed up the banks of the falls. The group continued on after approximately twenty minutes.

Further north, the students encountered their first overland route. This marked route allowed for safe travel over the headland when the tide was too high to hike around it. Each group member scrambled to the top and slowly inched their way down the other side. A flat, sandy beach existed beyond the overland route. Mr. Scoles found a large cork and started a short soccer/keep away game on the beach. Several students joined in.

After several more miles, the Adventure Education group reached Cedar Creek. To the group’s surprise, no one was camping in the area. Students quickly set up their tents and hung wet clothes on branches to dry. Several students gathered firewood and started a fire. After this work was done, students took a dip in Cedar Creek. Later in the evening, a rope swing, located on the hill above the campsite, was used extensively.

Students discovered a dead pelican while exploring the beach north of camp. This find triggered a shift away from the tranquil, beachcombing mood to one prehistoric in nature. The pelican head was attached to the end of a stick and held aloft. A low chanting sound seemed to rise over the crash of the waves. Curiosity cut the ceremony short, as there was surely other finds on the beach. It should be noted that, later in the evening, the sand in the area of the chanting was inspected. Although we did not have a certified anthropologist in the group, the prints seemed to follow a distinct circular pattern around the spot where the head of the deceased pelican rose, for the last time, in triumph above the waves.

Approximately fifty yards north of the campsite, a cable ladder was found leading up a steep bank to a trail above. The area was clearly marked with the distinctive overland route sign. Adults explored this route and then invited students up. The trail forked at the top. One route led downhill to the northern beach. The other led up to, arguably, the most spectacular lookout spot on the entire coast. One by one, students were taken up to this perch above the waves. Each member of the northbound group had a chance to experience this amazing lookout.

Heading back to the campsite, Mr. Bergquist found an empty whisky bottle. It was decided that the group would send it out to sea with a message. Lainey wrote a brief introduction to the finder asking for a response if found. She included Langley Middle School’s postal address. After that, the paper was passed from person to person. Students took turns writing several sentences to the finder of the bottle. All group members contributed to the writing. After finishing, the bottle was set aside for a morning ceremonial toss.

Students climbed into their tents at 9:00 PM. Each worked on journals and went to sleep.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Washington Coast Hike - June 13 - 14, 2006

Trailhead - June 13, 2006
Seventh grade Adventure Ed students arrived at the Langley Middle School at 8:00 PM Tuesday evening. Students enjoyed a game of basketball in the gym before heading to the library. Students made beds for themselves on the couches and floor of the library and computer annex.

Students woke up at 5:30 AM Wednesday morning, ate a hurried breakfast, packed their bags, cleaned the library and headed out to the district bus. The bus left Langley Middle School at 6:20 AM bound for the Keystone ferry. The group arrived in time to catch the 7:15 AM Keystone ferry to Port Townsend. From there, the group headed directly to Port Angeles.
In Port Angeles, the bus stopped at Olympic National Park headquarters. Overnight wilderness permits were purchased and students chose a bear canister to put their food in for the trip. The ranger told the group that raccoons had been a real nuisance at many of the campsites we were scheduled to stay at. The bear canisters would help thwart their thieving efforts. A stop at Safeway was made before heading to Rialto Beach on the Washington coast.

At Rialto Beach, the first Adventure Ed group packed food into their bear canisters, split the two-person tents, dawned their packs and headed north up the beach. The second group drove on to Ozette campground and started their hike down the coast.
Seal Found
Thirty minutes into the hike, students found a dead harbor seal. Several eagles were spotted in the surrounding trees. Each was awaiting a turn at the seal. After taking several pictures, students proceeded up the beach to Hole-in-the-Wall. The tide was low enough for the entire group to walk through the hole.

Throughout the hike, students witnessed pounding surf, rugged islands and numerous rock formations on the coast. The weather was overcast but the rain held.

Students hiked to Chilean Memorial, a spot that was marked with a plaque indicating the spot where a ship had foundered. The group picked a flat spot on the beach, set up their tents and started a campfire. Students filled their water bottles in a nearby stream. Later in the evening, the group sat around the campfire, prepared their dinners and dried wet garments.
Sea Stacks on Rialto Beach - June 13, 2006
After dinner, students explored the surrounding area. Many ventured up the beach in search of tide pools. Several students brought back mussels. These were boiled and eaten. Many students were drawn to this hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the early stages of the coast hike. Some did not relinquish this way of living until they boarded the district bus and headed back to civilization.

At approximately 9:00 PM, rain began to fall. Students picked up their belongings, hid bear canisters in various spots outside camp and crawled into their tents. Once inside, students wrote in their journals, played cards and socialized before falling asleep.
Writing Journals at Camp - Chilean Memorial - June 13, 2006