The joke was on me and others. They made a model lighthouse and had it at the entrance of the Dungeness spit wildlife area. Yup, no hiking involved. Hey, not very funny. When I talked to one of the volunteers at the wildlife refuge about it he said, "If it seems to be too good to be true, well....." Correct-a-mundo.
I started down the path with a small fanny pack that housed my truck keys, kleenex, chapstick, and one small lollipop. Once I walked the steep paved hill down to the beach, it was so lovely that I just kept walking. Walking and walking and walking. When I began to tire I told myself that I must be half way there and I shouldn't be a 'weenie' and turn back. And, walking and walking. Still no lighthouse to be seen. I kept thinking I would see it around the next bend. Nope. All I saw were seagulls and more seagulls.
The good thing was that I actually had hiking boots and thin wool socks on with my bermuda shorts and short sleeved T-shirt. Hiking boots and shorts truly make me a Pacific North Westerner :) I really had no intention of doing 12 miles, but it was so gorgeous outside, I just kept going. It was about 52 degrees when I started and probably about 55 degrees when I was through hiking some 5 hours later. I was never cold and actually wished I had brought a bandana with me to keep the sweat out of my eyes. 55-60 degrees with the mild humidity here is the absolute perfect temperature for me.
The water of the Strait of San Juan De Fuca was crystal clear. And, I have to tell you even though I didn't see any wildlife other than sea gulls, the beach was pristine. Not even a bottle cap. Not one piece of trash anywhere. Yea. The water for about 100 yards had a familiar emerald green glow to it like the Caribbean. So, I kept walking, walking, walking. I kept walking and thinking. Once in awhile I would climb the mass piles of gorgeous driftwood to look to the east over the Dungeness bay. The driftwood separated the view from the bay to the west to the strait. Beautiful view of my Canadian friends from the strait.
Even though my left instep was starting to be a bit painful and my right hip was grating bone against bone from the slant of the beach and the rocks I was trying not to walk on in the sand, I kept plugging away. I finally ran into a couple strolling the other way (back to the refuge) and they told me "Only about another 40 minutes and I would be there, at the lighthouse. It felt like I had already walked 10 miles, but there in the distance I could now see the lighthouse. I felt like Dorothy (without Toto) looking at the Land of OZ! Only, 40 more minutes. Heck, I could do that. God knows, I'm a Capricorn and not a quitter!
The Dungeness lighthouse on the world's largest spit.
A spit or sandspit is a deposition bar or beach landform found off coasts. It develops in places where re-entrance occurs, such as at cove's headlands, by the process of longshore drift and longshore currents.
I had looked into becoming a volunteer lighthouse keeper a few days before my massive hike (massive for me, anyways). I wanted to know more about it. The best way to find out was to go see it in person :) Even though my bones were aching and creaking I kept trudging away with my ankle once in awhile rolling painfully under me from walking in the sand.
All photos I had to take with iPhone since I hadn't planned on hiking and left my camera at the house. I took a lot of photos, but my camera battery lasted until about the last mile before it died. Really, I almost didn't want to hike right up to the lighthouse door I was so tired, but I made myself do it. I'm glad I did, except for the zillion steps up to the top of the lighthouse. One step at a time. I didn't even know it was open to the public to walk up there. A lighthouse keeper was at the top. I didn't know that either until I heard a voice from above. I knew it wasn't God...haha. I was taking one step at a time huffing and puffing. The voice above said, "Keep going, not much further." I laughed and replied, "You can hear me puffing." I finally made it to the top with a spectacular view.
The volunteer lighthouse keeper filled me with information about the Dungeness spit and the graveyard spit that has formed off of it. She told me lots of stories. Everyday she has seen Orcas. I watched carefully where the gulls were feeding out at sea, but didn't see any Orcas. There are 4 volunteers at a time in a house next to the lighthouse. It's not free. You pack your food and clothes and they trek you out in a 4 wheeler for a week at a cost of $350. That's a good money maker for the Wildlife refuge. They are booked solid for a year. You do the math. $350 X 4 each week :)
I personally would rather go in the winter to see up close first hand the winter storms, plus, I'd have a lot less hikers coming through to see the lighthouse. After about 15 minutes at the top I started the stairs down. I asked if I could go down on my butt (I have no shame), but I was assured it would be easier to go down backwards. Funny, the older I get, the more acrophobic I get. I went really slowly down. One step, one step....I was really thankful for the water fountain they had. They should keep some candy bars on hand for diabetics. But, I guess if you were diabetic and hiking 12 miles, you probably would pack for that long of a hike. Not be like me. But that itsy bitsy lollipop I had in my fanny pack tasted damn good after slurping down some water from the fountain.
I sat on a bench outside of the lighthouse yard and sucked on my lollipop. Then I decided I better start the 6 mile trek back. I reminded myself of a barn sour horse wanting to get back to the barn as fast as possible. Though, I can guarantee you I wasn't running, just walking quickly.Like magic, the fog rolled in so thick that I could barely see 25 feet in front of myself. I saw a few late hikers going towards the lighthouse. I wondered what sort of view, if any, they would have when they arrived. I walked over to the piles of driftwood to see if the Dungeness bay side was a shorter route than the strait side. LOL Nope. But, I did find a cool sculpted driftwood cross. It would be perfect for Jet's grave site. He loved walking on the beach with me. And, thankfully it was lighter than the beach rocks that I had already picked up stuffing in my shorts pockets and fanny pack. About an hour later the fog rolled back out and it was crystal clear. Amazing. At one point, I stopped, looked to the Heavens, arms out stretched, palms up, thanked the Lord and said hi to my Mom and Dad above. I knew they were watching and in full approval :)
All the way back I kept thinking about ordering Chinese food take-out as soon as I got back to my truck and got my phone recharged. Truly, I think it was the only thing that kept me putting one foot in front of the other. Because now, I was getting really sore. I leaned forward as I walked trying to tuck my butt under to take the strain off my back. It isn't easy getting older. The thought of a cushy couch, Chinese food and a large glass of merlot kept me trudging along. Finally, I could see the bluff where I began my insane moment of going for a brief hike that turned into the grueling 12 mile hike. I knew I had a steep hill to climb (about 3/4 mile) back to my truck. Thankfully, from clomping up and down my own steep driveway and hill my legs are in pretty good shape.
I did stop on a bench for a few minutes half way up the hill. I met a nice Indian man with his father who was visiting him from India. This was his first time West of Seattle. He was amazed that I hiked out to the lighthouse. I probably looked like death warmed over. haha But, it still made me feel good that I left him in disbelief. He wanted to know everything about how long it took me, etc. He found it hard to believe that I had no intention of hiking that distance. It was just such a gorgeous day, I kept on going :0)
View from the bench
Thought I best have my picture taken with Big Foot as I arrived to the parking lot. I didn't have anyone else to greet me.
Kind of resembles my husband anyway. LOL
I made it to Dynasty for my Chinese food. Must have been a new cook. It wasn't as good as usual. Got home. I barely could get my weak legs out of the car to walk up to the door. My dogs were looking at me very oddly since I was walking very strangely to them. I ate. I drank. I took an 800 Motrin. I found 2 expired Lidocaine patches, one for my left instep and one for my right hip after taking a Lavender Epsom Salts hot bath. When I went to bed I put a heat pack under each hip. Yowser, I was hurting. Come morning, I was almost good as new. Thank-you Lord. I did it :0)
Wayne is a little worried that I am making a shrine out of Jet's gravesite. It's at the back of the garden. So? It brings me joy. What is more important? I like his driftwood cross and new beach rocks that I brought him. I still talk to him all of the time.
Best Dog Ever :0)