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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Olympic National Park: Shi Shi Beach

By Aug 31st 2010 No Comments »

After a quick stop at famous Pike Place market in Seattle, WA we rounded the Olympic peninsula and headed north towards Port Angeles and Olympic National Park.  Our first night was spent in Sequim Bay, about an hour east of Port Angeles.  The state park there offered luxurious amenities:  running water, toilets, coin operated showers and even an outlet to charge my camera battery – it’s incredible what you begin to consider luxuries after going a few days without.  The next morning we headed into Port Angeles and made a quick stop at park headquarters to collect a few needed items. A bear canister and backcountry camping permit later, and we were off to Shi Shi Beach.

Shi Shi has been rated one of the Northwest’s most beautiful beaches.  Its well-traveled shoreline is nothing short of spectacular. With stunning sea stacks making up the Point of Arches and tide pools flourishing with sea life at low tide, Shi Shi has been considered one of the best additions to Olympic National Park.  It’s inclusion into the National Park Service was met with much dispute regarding land ownership, but was finally made accessible to the public in 1988.   With all this beauty packed into one beach, you can imagine how excited we were to get there.

The two mile trail takes you through a dense forest covered in mosses adding to the tropical feel of the already picturesque beach.  The winding trail was beautifully kept and maintained thanks to the Makah Indian Reservation, who owns the land leading up to the beach.  The final tenth of a mile is on NPS property and is a tricky and steep descent to the shoreline – be cautious and try not to let the building excitement get to you or else you may be victim of a broken bone or two.

When we finally reached Shi Shi I was quite disappointed.  The beach was locked in a bubble of fog, blue skies were visible above us and back over tree line but visibility on the beach was limited to about 10 feet.  Regardless, we decided to stay and hoped that the fog would burn off…we were told by a fellow camper who had stayed the previous night that the fog typically burns off by noon.  At that point it was around 2 o’clock. I was skeptical, but wanted to avoid negative thoughts at all cost.  We decided to head down the beach towards the Point of Arches…about two miles (one way) from our camp.

The Point of Arches is a fantastic work of natural architecture and a great example of the powerful force of an ocean.  Years ago, the Pacific Ocean carved massive arches out of prehistoric rock found in the southern boundary of Shi Shi Beach. What remains today is an ocean dotted with sea stacks, jagged rocks and magnificent arches.

By the time we reached the Point of Arches, we were still shrouded in fog, with no sign of clearing in sight.

Extremely disappointed, we turned back and made the trek north to our camp.  On our way we were met by the barks of Sea Lions playing only a few feet from the shoreline. It was as though they were mocking us – knowing we couldn’t see them, making even more noise to further add to our frustrations.

Despite all these disappointments, our trip was not at a complete loss.  The atmosphere was truly perfect and peaceful. Our camp was made in a jungle of driftwood, sent to shore by the powerful crashing waves of the Pacific. Noise pollution was limited to only the occasional seagulls, seals and of course, the aforementioned waves.  Beach fires are permitted, which adds to the warming effect Shi Shi has on you.

All in all Shi Shi was a truly incredible place, however If there is ever a place I want to go back to so badly, this beach would be it.  And Shi Shi is not the only breathtaking and wonderful place located on the Washington coast.  There are over 57 miles of undeveloped beaches located in the Park, the longest undamaged stretch of shoreline found within the lower 48 states.  Go here, and you’ll never want to come home…that I can say in confidence, fog or no fog.

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