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Dungeness Spit

A record setting spit can brighten anyone’s Independence Day.  The Offpeaker’s Fourth of July centered around an 11 mile hike on the Dungeness Spit here on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula.

Caption here

Sure it’s only 5 miles each way! but nobody mentioned the stones!!

Yes, we are now in the beautiful Pacific Northwest!  If you have visited the area and love the great outdoors, you will understand why.  The Dungeness Spit, named by explorer George Vancouver, is the longest spit (a deposition sand bar or beach found off coasts) in North America.

At the start of the hike...wait, where's the lighthouse?

At the start of the hike…wait, where’s the lighthouse?

The Dungeness National Wildlife refuge contains the spit among its 770 acre holding just outside Sequim, Washington.  The refuge is home to more than 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals, a harbor seal birthing area, excellent infrastructure, an operational 1857 lighthouse, and a near constant powerful wind.  This wind, varying in strength from strong to wicked, was our hiking partner the entire day.

You can tell by the smiles that this is at the beginning of the hike :-)

Still smiling so this must be at the beginning of the hike 🙂

Our hike along the spit to the lighthouse would be 11 miles long including the return. The entrance fee is $3, which was waived as we are proud holders of a National Park Service Interagency Annual Pass. For $80, we get 12 months access to more than 2,000 sites governed by 5 federal agencies.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Now that the Olympic National Park is our new back yard, we needed affordable long term access. An early start was chosen to beat the holiday crowds. With a packed lunch and cameras, we hit the trail. The first half mile goes through heavy ferns and old growth cedar and spruce.

The heavily wooded path to the trail

The heavily wooded path that leads to the spit.

If you don’t have time for the full hike, you will enjoy the short walk and view from a nice platform over the beach. Our arrival coincided with low tide, so we had the maximum width of the spit (maybe 40 yards?) to travel.

The shore birds

Shore birds resting on huge tree stumps.

After the initial mile, hikers have to stay on the north side of the spit, leaving the south side for the many shore birds. We were impressed by the huge stumps and logs that had blown up on the spit. A few imprints in the sand and two cars in the parking lot told us we were not the first on the trail today.

Park ranger ATV bringing supplies to the lighhouse

Park ranger ATV bringing supplies to the light house and a container ship in the background.

A lone ATV passed us, taking supplies to the light house. We were walking along the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. Occasionally we saw large boat traffic heading for Seattle/Bremerton including container and cruise ships. Not many interesting shells to be found, but lots of well polished interesting stones.

John don't want these so T just made a cairn. Not as good as Matt's.

John didn’t want these rocks in his pocket so T just made a cairn. Not as good as Matt’s.

Terry excels at finding the rocks, John is judged to be the better carrier.  Orcas and seals are routinely spotted, we did not encounter any on this day. Although the walk was flat, it was a bit hard on the legs with spots of soft sand and shifting rocks.  About three and half miles in we rounded a long curve in the route and saw the distant light house.

Ya, there is a light house!

Yay, there is a light house!

This encouraged us to speed up and achieve our goal. Hikers are welcomed at the site with potable water, restrooms, and a nice picnic area. The Offpeakers took the opportunity to enjoy sandwiches and empty our boots of sand.

Great spot for a picnic!

Great spot for a picnic!

Although mostly overcast, it made the day special to enjoy the meal under our Stars and Stripes surrounded by coast and the light house structures. The New Dungeness Light House is not very new, having been activated in December of 1857. The Coast Guard removed its personnel in the early 1990’s. Staffing was resumed by a volunteer organization from Sequim.

In front of the light house

In front of the light house, feeling patriotic on Independence Day!

The volunteers maintain the site and host tours. We enjoyed the climb up the tower, but were disappointed that only the official volunteers are allowed out on the cat walk. We did get a nice (and warm) view from the interior of the tower. The old lamp and surrounding trim and railings are just some of the brass that needs continual polishing. If you sign up, you can experience a week long stint as a lighthouse keeper.

The small museum & light house behind us

The small museum & light house behind us

It is not cheap ($375), as the funds go towards conservation of the site. While we probably won’t be marooning ourselves here for seven days anytime in the future, we are grateful to those that do that allow our visit. Refreshed, we prepared to return to the mainland. Instead of warming up, the increasing wind had made it quite cold.

There are more hikers coming and going on our way back

There are more hikers coming and going on our way back

A fast pace (like yours Irena!) soon had us warmed up, where we could share greetings with the inbound hikers. As we search for an apartment to be the Offpeaker World Headquarters in the Peninsula while we go to school, we are enjoying putting downtime into fun outdoor activities. So far we love the area and we will share the special places we encounter. How did you spend your Fourth of July? Do you have a favorite lighthouse? Share with us in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  1. Irena Xanthos

    Wish we were there! It is so us. We will have to keep it in mind as something to do when we go to WA.
    Constantine played in a chess tournament in Port Orange near Daytona Beach. The tournament started Saturday and goes to next Friday. One game a day which allowed us to explore our area. Went to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park near Deland, Fl and St. Augustine. Our son planned a trip to Jacksonville so we had lunch with them in Port Orange on Saturday met them in St. Augustine on Sunday and they picked me up to return to south Florida because we had to work on Tuesday. It was an awesome weekend!

    • Hi Guys,
      Best of luck to Constantine! What a fun past time. From our limited experience, Florida State Parks are just outstanding destinations. Glad to see the whole family got out and enjoyed the holiday. Travelling makes us all appreciate the world but also have a much deeper appreciation for the good old USA. We love your updates and we miss you guys. Our best to you both,
      John and Terry

  2. Looks like a great place.Never visited there whle I lived in Washington, but having a mother who grew up in a lighthouse where grandpa was the keeper, I would love to be a volunteer there for a week. Thanks for another informative blog!

    • Hi Barbara,
      What an adventurous family! You have so many great stories and are truly a “Wordpainter” in sharing them! It is exciting that your new novel, Nettie’s Dream, is now available. We downloaded it this morning (the first reviews on Amazon are stellar!) and we will fight for the ipad to see who will be the first reader (John better let me win this one)! Our expectations are high. Thank you for sharing your gifts!
      Terry and John

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