We weren’t planning to do the whole thing. It was 5-1/2 miles to the lighthouse and 5-1/2 back, hiking over rocks, driftwood and whatever else a low tide reveals on Dungeness Spit .
It had been a couple years since doing any long distance walking, and a year since I’d done anything over 3 miles. Slowly regaining my endurance following cancer, I agreed to try half of it. It would be a challenge and a nice way to spend time with friends.
Dungeness Spit is on the Northern coast of The Olympic Peninsula and is a National Wildlife Refuge. The hike starts on a 1/2 mile path through the woods where deer greeted us as we descended to the beach. We could see miles of beach, which lead to a yet-to-be seen lighthouse.
In order to do the whole distance, you must plan to go when the tide is completely out. We planned accordingly, just in case. We went on a Sunday morning. It was quiet, except for marine birds and an occasional vessel traveling along The Straight of Juan De Fuca. It was clear enough for us to see Vancouver Island, B.C. and the air smelled of salt and briny vegetation.
Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. Like I said, we weren’t planning on doing the whole thing, but once we saw the lighthouse, something started stirring – a revived sense of motivation. I did not want to be the one to wimp out. We kept going, but it seemed like we were never making ground on the lighthouse. Two hours later when we finally arrived, we found this sign “Reality 5-1/2 Miles.”
I felt a surge of accomplishment, as well as a desire to drop right there in the sand for a nap. Instead, we had a snack, toured the lighthouse and museum, and took a few pictures to prove we made it.
For those that are serious about lighthouses, this National Wildlife Refuge offers the opportunity for volunteers to staff the light keeper’s cottage. Under the Lighthouse Keeper Program, you can rent the place for a week at a time in exchange for a very reasonable fee and some light duties, such as grounds maintenance and greeting of tourists. The family on duty had the place looking pristine.
Heading back, I took one final photograph of the expansive beach. It really was a long way! I needed to concentrate on keeping one foot in front of the other.
When we arrived back at the refuge access point, we told the rangers we had located the lighthouse and they “high-fived” us. I asked them where the celebratory whisky shots were, and they replied that we had “missed” them (haha!) To celebrate our 11 mile accomplishment, we had an early dinner and cocktails at Nourish Sequim, a small locally sourced/organic restaurant in Sequim, WA. That day’s fixed dinner menu was in honor of Ukraine, and the dishes were traditional and delicious. If you’re headed towards the Olympic Peninsula, check out the Dungeness Spit and surrounding area. You won’t be sorry, but you need to be ready!
What’s one of your favorite long distance walks or hikes? Let me know if the comments.