So what did YOU do this weekend? Instead of hanging around the house and staying out of the cold and rain, the Crew loaded up their packs and headed over to Dungeness Spit on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We were immediately rewarded as we crossed the Hood Canal Bridge westbound, as the clouds parted and a brilliant January sun popped out, illuminating the snow-capped Olympics. We parked at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and Recreation Area, which was once a massive Voice of America radio broadcast site, donned our packs, pulled out our trekking poles and headed for the trailhead. There's a $3 per "family" charge that helps pay for maintenance, so we decided that since the 14 of us came in 3 vehicles, we'd pay $9. That sounded reasonable, didn't it? There's an overlook platform at the edge of the trees on the bluff, then the trail quickly descends to the beach at the base of the Spit.
The weather and scenery couldn't have cooperated any better. Within minutes, we were already beginning to strip off layers of jackets and vests as we walked the Spit. Even the tides were on our side, so that we could mostly walk directly on the beach rather than scamper across the rocks and driftwood. Dungeness is the longest natural sand spit in the United States, and juts out 5.5 miles from the Olympic Peninsula and ends at the Dungeness Light, once a manned Coast Guard station that's now automated and has volunteer guides who live in the old Lighthouse Keeper's house for a week at a time, year round. There's a beautiful grass lawn and a fresh water well at the Light. After lunch and a climb up to the top of the Light, we loaded up and hiked back. It was a little over 11 miles round trip, with Dante taking "honors" (if you want to call it that) for hefting the heaviest pack at over 60 pounds. Please don't ask what he was carrying, but we can all testify that it was natural, organic materials. Staying hydrated was important, as well as making sure our packs fit well and shoes and feet were cared for. Everyone changed out at least their sock liners once we reached the Light, and relaxed our bare feet on the grass while eating lunch and watching the ships sail by on the Strait. It was truly a day to take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.