This past Sunday was a beautiful day to go for a very long walk.
My friend M included me in her plans to walk the longest natural sand spit in the US with her almost 5 year old kiddo. Dungeness Spit is 5.5 miles (8.9km) long and the hike is considered easy, because it’s a flat beach walk, but it’s still a good 5 hour round trip. The weather was forecast to be warm and sunny, but even typical cloudy damp WA weather would have been fine for this kind of walk. Dungeness Spit is close to Sequim (pronounced “squim” btw) is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and is famous for sunshine and lavender in a region famous for rain and moss.
The spit is a driftwood lover’s paradise. And a rock lover’s paradise. The kiddo understood that collecting was against the rules, but we took lots of photos of rocks that were especially beautiful (and kelp – gosh that kid loves bull kelp!) We spent a lot of time looking at rocks and kelp on the walk to the lighthouse.
The current brings all kinds of things onto the beach, including some Japanese tsunami debris. And dead animals. They were a highlight for the kiddo. We smelled them before we saw them… The first was a young seal, teeth bared. Later we came upon a larger harbor seal and an even larger seal, probably an elephant seal or sea lion. We also came upon a fully grown deer, and then a young one with its legs splayed every which way (“like Bambi” the kid exclaimed gleefully – she’s not squeamish or sentimental at all!) We also found a couple of dead jellies. The dead animals didn’t get photographed – Auntie Jo was trying to set a good example, and I figured nobody really wanted to see them. They did become our mile markers on the long walk back, as we rationed break times to keep everyone going – 30 seconds in the shade after each dead animal.
It was a long, long walk… We stopped for lunch half way along, and took a break at the lighthouse. We climbed up to the light to enjoy the view, but we didn’t add in any extra hikes around the end of the spit (which keeps growing, leaving the lighthouse a good half mile away from the end these days). We had already seen a couple of (live) seals in the water – we weren’t tempted to walk further to see more. Probably a good decision judging by how close to sunset it was when we got back to the car.
The walk back was tough. The kiddo wanted to take a shortcut. We had some discussions about whether getting upset about the situation changed anything, or made it any easier to keep going. We tricked her into running ahead, because she is 5 and writing an X or her name in the sand was more fun than running was difficult. She used a walking stick we found for her which sometimes helped and sometimes hindered.
I used my dSLR a lot on the way out, trying to get some cool shots for the kiddo’s end of year photo book. The tight confines of the lighthouse tower needed a wider angle lens than I had, so the iPhone was perfect for that. The volunteer keeper snapped a phone photo of the 3 of us which came out really nicely (btw people pictures are not shared here to respect kiddo privacy). Most of the way back my energy was focused on keeping on walking, but by the time we were walking the last mile the sun was low in the sky so I took advantage of the golden hour light to snap a few more shots.
When we finally reached the forest trailhead lookout point and looked back to where we had walked I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t really looked before we set out. That’s probably a good thing. In the photo below, follow the far right stick up to find the pale snowy top of Mt Baker in the distance – the lighthouse is right below that. So far away!
The kiddo did great. She wasn’t always happy, but she made it. She was the only kiddo we saw all day. The volunteer keeper doubted she could make it up the 70-odd stairs to the light – completely missing the point that she had already walked 5 miles and would need to walk 5 miles back! The stairs were nothing. And she didn’t get carried or piggy-backed – not one step. She probably didn’t hurt the way we grown ups did the next day!
31,000 steps! That was a good day’s exercise. Especially on sand and rocks. Fitbit didn’t give me nearly enough credit for my 6 hours (yes, 6 hours!) of walking – only 9 active minutes?! I got more active minutes the next day walking the dog. Silly Fitbit has no idea sometimes.
What a lovely way to spend my 40th birthday :)
Thanks for stopping by to see my little adventure.
I will back be soon with winter clothes.