October 19, 2009

The Northwest Corner

My wife and I spent the weekend in the northwest corner of the state. It was a fine way to spend a rainy weekend. The goal was Neah Bay and the Makah Museum, with a hope for Cape Flattery.

We drove around the south and west sides of the Olympics, through torrential rains and general gloom. Talking books help a lot. By the time we got to Neah Bay, which is a trim little town, there was hope of better weather. Still, we went for the museum, and by the time we came out, it was raining again.

The Makah Museum is my favorite museum and I was very happy to be visiting it again. It struck me as powerfully as it did the first time I was there, decades ago. It's a treasure trove of artifacts, hundreds of years old, recovered from a coastal village buried in a slide. The clay preserved even fabrics. But the best part – the profound and powerful part – is the interpretation. This is the Makah's history, the history of the people still living there, who have survived pestilence and persecution to make it to this day, when they can reconnect to their past through these items and the stories that go with them. It's worth the drive.

When we came out of the museum, it wasn't exactly raining, so we decided to take a chance and headed toward Cape Flattery. It was fairly bright and only slightly drizzling when we got to the parking lot, so we took the trail. The woods were dripping and sizeable, considering how close to the blustery coast we were. The trail has been recently reworked and it was very good. At the end of it are several viewing platforms, perched on the very corner of the country. While there was rain coming, it hadn't arrived yet, so we reveled in the sights: ships on the horizon; the lighthouse on Tatoosh Island; gulls, oystercatchers, cormorants, ravens, and even a heron; and a seal fishing the waters below our perch. The rain caught us on the way back.

We returned to Forks, where we had a clean and good-sized room at the Olympic Suites Inn. Can't say that Forks offers much in the way of dining, but we did find a dinner and a breakfast good enough to eat. The weather the next morning was promising, so we turned north, toward Lake Crescent, with a thought to Hurricane Ridge, should it actually clear.

At the west end of Lake Crescent, we turned off to take in a segment of the Spruce Railroad Trail, which winds along the steep and lonely north shore of the lake. The weather got better and better and, for a time, the skies were almost clear. The sun brought out the colors of the yellow bigleaf maple and scarlet vine maple. The trail is wide and easy and we had a great walk.

By the time we finished, the clouds were building in the mountains again, so we left Hurricane Ridge for another day and returned home along Hood Canal.