Shi Shi Beach. Oh how you stole my heart. From your other worldly coastline to your wild woods to the strange objects that wash up on your shores, I love you.
One Friday evening after work we hopped on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry to head out to the peninsula. The weather was shaping up to be as clear as you can get on the coast, and actually warm to boot. The trek out there is long, but the drive is scenic and on a weekend where the weather is good, it can go faster than you’d think. Since it was too long of a drive to make it to Shi Shi before it got too late, we made a stop at Hobuck Beach and car camped for the night beofre heading through the Makah Indian Reservation the next morning.
The trail into Shi Shi is not hard, it’s an easy day hike for the locals, but it’s getting the correct permits and gear in order to legally camp overnight there which make it more of a difficult task. Where the beach is owned by the Olympic National Park, the trail to Shi Shi and the land surrounding it is owned by the tribe.
To overnight on Shi Shi, 4 things are required:
– Bear Canister (As required by the National Park)
– Olympic National Park wilderness permit (for camping on the beach, available in Forks or Port Angeles)
– Makah Recreation pass (for use of the trail, available in the general store at Makah Bay)
– Payment for parking overnight on Makah land (paid to jar at a house on a parcel of land where you park)
After getting the correct permits in order and finding the correct area to park, we hit the trail. Knowing that the trail wasn’t that long and that we were in for good weather and some surf, I packed in a mini cooler while a couple of the guys carried in surfboards. We had heard the trail was muddy year round, so I figured I’d just hike in with my rubber boots. All of those decisions I soon regretted. The trail mud was up to a couple inches thick in some parts, so the boots were great for that, but that was it. Ben had read that there was a trail down to the beach and as we found a spur headed to the right of us, we assumed that was the way down. That spur got steep REAL fast. And with half of us in tennis shoes and surfboards and myself in traction-less rubber boots and a mini-cooler, it was more treacherous then we anticipated. There was a small rope that we ended up using to down climb. As we were half way down, we see a family with a small child running on the beach. ‘Well….that doesn’t seem right…..wait…is Grandma down here with them too?!’ Okay this was definitely not correct the way down. But hey…it had to have been the most exciting….yeah!? Dirty and sweaty, we were happy to have made it on the beach without any casualties.
Not the way down
As we got down to the beach, we decided to drop our stuff and go explore down the opposite way we were headed. Within a matter of 15 minutes, we found whale bones (as well as 1/6th of a dead whale) a 12ft ladder, a car wheel, wreckage from an old ship, a Japanese fishing buoy, as well as other beach treasures. There were also 4-5 eagles screeching and fighting over the dead whale right next to us. It was as if the pages of National Geographic had come to life and nature just exploded. After poking around some more, we headed back, nabbed our bags for the trek out the other direction to find our campsite.
We hiked another mile or so down the beach and found a stream that came out of the tree line into the bay. There was an established camp ring and we figured this would be our best chance for clean water so we posted up and called it home just as the sun broke through.
The rest of the day was spent exploring down the beach and taking a break from our morning hike in. Wearing rain boots and hiking on sand is rough on the feet (literally) so we relaxed and enjoyed the sun and good company. Later that afternoon, the fogged rolled in so we built a fire, had dinner and a few warm beers and then retired for the night. (Note: we we’re approached by park rangers and they did check that we had an adequate bear canister and proper permits, so I wouldn’t take the risk of not bringing one. You can rent one pretty easy as you also pick up your recreation permit at the ranger station in Port Angeles)
The next morning is by far the number one way I have woken up in all of my trips outdoors. My friend Mel and I are usually the two most early risers of the bunch and we spent the wee morning hours watching strange little beach bugs milling about and heading back into the sand as the sun became too hot for their tiny bodies. We strolled back to camp, made coffee and started heading back down the beach when I looked up to see some movement in the water, right off shore. We all grabbed our mugs of coffee, took a walk down the beach to see what it was to find a family of humpbacks eating breakfast in the shallows right off the beach. If the eagles the previous day hadn’t been enough, this took the cake. We all sat and watched the whales, drinking our coffee while the sun rose higher in the sky. Shortly after, a couple of the guys grabbed their surfboards to catch a few waves nearby while the rest of us stayed with the whales. No better way to start your day.
The warm morning quickly turned into a hot day. We spent most of it exploring tide pools, walking further along the beach around the Point of Arches, getting sun burned, even taking a quick dip and getting in on some kite flying action.
As we had a long journey back, we packed up everything in the early afternoon and bid adieu to all that was Shi Shi. On the way back we found the correct trail which was much easier and pretty obvious, so yay for us, ha.
Check out this fun little video our friend Gabe made of our trip
Once again, this is a weekend trip I always recommend to people looking to get out and see something new. Bye bye beautiful beach, I shall dream of you often.