Dungeness Spit

I had only hiked Dungeness Spit one time before. That was in April of 2002. It makes a great winter or spring trip when the high country is buried under snow. The day before I had snowshoed up Mt. Catherine. That was pretty tiring so a nice flat hike sounded good to me. Janet put together a photography weekend with a number of nwhikers.net members. Some of them camped out Saturday night at the Dungeness campgrounds. We chose to make it a day trip. I went with Kim and Kirsten. We were on the Seattle Bainbridge ferry at 7:55. We pulled into the lot a little before 10:00 AM.

There is a $3.00 fee to enter the wildlife sanctuary. As we walked over to the trailhead we met Janet, Rick, Vita, and Claire. Vita and Claire were down from Vancouver for the weekend. Nwhikers was well represented on the spit. It was a sunny day. We have not had many of those this winter. The high was forecast to reach the low 50's which is a real heat wave. It was fun to meet Vita, who posts as "seawallrunner". I have read her posts for years.

Part of me wanted to return to the lighthouse five miles down the beach. Part of me was just happy to have a camera and enjoy the views. On my previous visit I did not take a camera. We began slowly with lots of photos and not much hiking. Soon seawallrunner and Claire had to head back home and our group became a bit smaller. An hour into the hike we were no more than a mile along. At some point the hiking overtook the photos.

Our pace picked up. High tide was right around our starting time. At first we were forced high on the beach. That meant walking on rocks and gravel. As the tide went out we could walk farther down where there was sand as well as rocks. The walking became a whole lot easier. The spit makes a turn to the right which hides the lighthouse from view. You can see it anywhere by going to the top of the ridge. The other side of the spit is the sanctuary and is off limits to hikers. We would occasionally pop up to see how far away the lighthouse appeared.

The problem with a flat hike is you never seem to make any progress. There is the lighthouse and a mile later is looks the same. At noon we took a break for some food and water. At this point we began to talk about pushing on to the lighthouse. The walk was interesting. Kirsten found a Pacific Giant Chiton. We saw an otter on his back eating while a seagull tried to nab his meal. We also saw a few eagles on or above the spit.

As we rounded the bend in the spit the lighthouse came into view ahead of us. It still did not seem any closer. At long long last we made it to the lighthouse. Members of the lighthouse association sign up to be volunteers for a week at a time. They and their gear are trucked down the spit. Our friendly hosts were glad to provide us with a tour. There is a small history museum in the lighthouse. It was built in 1857. At that time Seattle was not much more than a few houses. It was originally 100 feet tall but was shortened to 63 feet.

There is only room for three guests at a time at the top. From only 63 feet up you can see all the way back down the spit. There were mileage markers to cities and mountains. One showed that it was only 2 miles to the Three Crabs Restaurant. That was our after hike destination. After the tour we headed down for some more photos.

A recent nwhikers thread extolled the "hotness" of women who hike. That combined with a general feeling that all the Backpacker magazine cover models look to be anything but real hikers led to some shenanigans. Kim, Janet, and Bobbi, proceeded to give there opinion of what a hot woman backpacker looks like. You'll have to see the photos to believe it. Certainly a highlight of any recent hike I have been on.

Bobbi is another nwhikers member. She had headed out ahead of us and we met part way down the spit. It was about 2:40 when we finally packed up and headed back. We did not make it far when we spotted a seal laying on the beach near us. Much more picture taking ensued. Now all we had to do was grind out 5 more miles of sand and gravel. It had warmed up as the day went by. I managed to do the hike back in short sleeves. It has been months since I last did that.

We made much better time coming back as the low tide allowed lots of bare sand to walk on. A few of our members had not done a 10 mile hike in a long time and they did very well. With the exception of some more photos we kept up a steady pace most all the way. As we came off the beach into the trees for the last climb to the trailhead it was instantly much colder. Like walking into a refrigerator. It was a very nice sunny day but it is still winter.

Our whole group headed on to the Three Crabs for a nice dinner. From there we hightailed it home. As we left Highway 101 a board stated there was a two hour delay for the Kingston-Edmonds ferry. We chose to head back to the Bainbridge Island ferry. Thanks to the guy ahead of us driving 10 miles under the speed limit we just missed that ferry but we were near the front of the line for the 8:55 ferry leaving 45 miinutes later. It was almost 10:00 PM by the time I arrived home.

Fifteen hours made for a long but enjoyable day. The weather was fantastic and the company was great too. I enjoyed meeting Vita, Claire, Rich, and Bobbi. It was nice to see Janet and Kirsten again too. After not having a camera on my previous trip, I found it much nicer to record the day in pictures. It really is amazing to live where I can travel 50 miles and be snowshoeing on 10 feet of snow and then go a similar distance in the other direction and have a warm day at the beach. Both trips made for a great weekend.

Other reports:   Nwhikerss Report & Photos

Shaded Beach
Camo Kim
Mt. Baker
Baker & Lighthouse
Cut Log
Big Log
Ship Wreck
Cascade Peaks
Lighthouse At Last
Looking Back
Caretaker's House
Break Time
Can't Stop
Close Up Of Seal
Long Beach
Almost Done
Last Look
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008