Tree of Life

We were in no particular hurry to leave our serene creekside encampment. We had a hot breakfast while Cali roamed the forest. Our next stop is only an hour drive to the south on highway 101 so a pretty stress free commute on a nearly empty roadway curving through beautiful trees.

There is a little side road to Ruby Beach so we made a quick stop just to have a look around. The Washington coast is just one picturesque beach after another. Being Sunday, there were quite a few cars parked at the dirt lot above the trail down to the beach. We had also seen quite a few day trippers heading into Hoh as we were heading out. A magnificent fall day, sunny and pushing sixty.

I spotted one of those little brown road signs that demark some kind of roadside attraction and made the left turn down a really narrow dirt track with tall bushes on both sides. The Giant Cedar was the draw so we pulled in to have a look. There were a few other cars to navigate with the big RV to get parked up but we did it. The tree was just okay, but we had a good time goofing off in the verdant clearing.

Our campground was only a few miles further up the road, Kalaloch Beach Campground. This is still part of the Olympic National Forest so my senior card gets us half off of camping. Can’t beat eleven bucks for camping on the bluff overlooking a beautiful beach. It is a first come, first serve set up and there weren’t too many prime spots left by the time we pulled in. We found a cool spot tucked in a horseshoe of bushes for total privacy. The bushes block the view but we can walk a few steps and see the surf.

Speaking of surf, there were some decent three foot waves rolling in out front. I suited up and grabbed the Inception for a paddle. What I had thought were hundreds of bull kelp bulbs floating in the line up turned out to be birds and as I paddled out through the inside breakers hundreds of birds took off at once skitting across the surface in their haste to take flight. I made it out easily the first time and caught a few waves. I got caught inside for a while after that before getting a few insiders to get back to the beach. It didn’t seem all that cold and although I surfed rather poorly, it was really uplifting being out there.

For some reason, I had anticipated Kalaloch (pronounced Clay Lock) being closer to civilization than Hoh, but when we arrived we found it to have really spotty phone service and ultra poor data connections. PJ wanted to make a call so we drove over to the lodge a mile up the road and service was a little better. She called Rhode Island and talked seemingly forever while I fidgeted like a little kid in church. I got out and took a few pictures of the beach at the rivermouth with seemingly a complete forest of trees washed up as driftwood on the sand. It must be amazing to witness the weather events that toss these hundred plus tall logs around like matchsticks.

One of the features at Kalaloch that I had come across online that I wanted to experience was the Tree of Life, a gnarled old Sitka Spruce that is clinging to the cliff in the park. Most of its roots are exposed but it tenaciously hangs on to the bluff on either side while sagging into a cave below, literally hanging on by a limb. A stream flows out underneath in the Tree Root Cave causing the erosion. Many people return regularly to see if it is still holding up. Questions as to how it survives and what keeps it holding on have led to the naming of Tree of Life.

PJ with a fistful of dollars

The light from the setting sun lit up the beach as we wandered around collecting sand dollars and shells. The chilly wind kept us bundled up as we haphazardly wandered around the beach. The sunset was a beauty and the evening was peaceful out on Washington’s northern coast.