Sunday, June 11, 2017

Washington Coast Hike - May 22 - 26 and June 5 - 9, 2017

Crossing the Quileute with Zach Jones (Alternate Route to Rialto Beach)
In late May and early June, seventy eighth grade Langley Middle School students hiked the Shipwreck Coast. To make this possible, I started planning and fundraising during the summer of 2016 (after hiking the Camino de Santiago). Having gone through the process of including more people, I know that the organizational piece will be much easier next time around.

Alternate Route Advisory - Chilean Memorial Overland (South)
The lush green of the new sword, deer and bracken ferns had my attention on both trips. I was reminded of how the program has grown over the past eleven years that I have taken a leadership role. For those unfamiliar with the previous arrangement, the trips had been offered to select students through an elective class. It seems natural to get behind the idea of outdoor education for all.

This spring, I split the two large groups based on track participation. Those students who chose not to involve themselves in the sport were offered the May hike. Due to league finals, track students hiked in June. If the configuration stays the same, I would organize the hikes in a similar manner next year.

Shortly before heading out on the May trip, I was blindsided by the closing of Mora Road, the only access to Rialto Beach. I called Gene Ewan, the Quileute Marina Harbormaster in La Push, to ask if there was a way to get across the river. Gene put me in contact with Zach Jones who, purely motivated by kindness, offered to shuttle our hiking groups across the river on four different occasions. This affirmed my hunch that the world is slowly moving in the right direction. Those seeking adventure will always find it on this trip.

Tide Surge (Wait for Your Moment) - Yellow Banks
I can't remember a better five-day stretch of weather than we had on the May trip. Students and chaperones who had never experienced the coast had the opportunity to behold its splendor. Living was extremely easy.

The June hike followed suit in that we had rain on only one afternoon and evening (Thursday). I always find it satisfying to meet with at least a little wet weather on the coast. It builds character. When the weather is poor, nothing beats a warm meal in the security of your tent.

Music played a major role in the campfire experience during our May hike. Eric Keene selflessly carried a full-size guitar the entire twenty-three miles for the sole purpose of entertaining at camp. I recognized older tunes from Pink Floyd and the Talking Heads. After this experience, I have it in mind to purchase a backpacking guitar for the program as well as other small instruments (egg shakers, claves, etc.). Staying open to adding further layers of richness to the program is, and will always be, a priority.

I was conscious of the abundant amount of water on the coast at this time of year. We had an extremely wet winter and spring. This resulted in a few slippery overland routes, the base of which were often difficult to remove oneself from. This trek teaches perseverance as well as patience.

Patiently Stuck - Chilean Memorial Overland (South)
I look forward to offering more of these experiences to public school students.

I would like to thank Tom Sage, Dr. Jo Moccia, Donald Heggenes, Nisa Heggenes, Kathy Gianni, Rocco Gianni, Dan Sage, Erik Jokinen, Sue Ann Brewer, Charlie Snelling, Danielle Klein, Justin Stacey, Don Zisette, Erin Rodriguez and Katie Lawson. This trip would have not been possible without your time and energy. I would also like to give a special shout out to Zach Jones, who patiently shuttled us across the Quileute River on four separate occasions. You're the MAN!


Nels Bergquist

Stone Stack (Rainbow Weather) - Cape Alava

Red, Yellow and Green - Cedar Creek