THE COAST OF OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Massive driftwood greets us as we climb aboard their logs to enter Rialto Beach. Low tide reveals pools of water and crusty barnacles hugging to the rocks for dear life. Wild, undeveloped coastline stretches for miles with jagged “seastack” islands standing their guard to the waves that crash the shore. Derek rips off his hiking shoes and readies himself for the next wave to rush his toes. The water floods his ankles as pebbles dance like crickets around him. He persuades me to join him barefoot and I shriek with surprise to the icy foam. We plan on hiking a three-mile round trip to the freestanding arch on Rialto named “Hole-in-the-Wall” but the soft flesh of our soles grimace with each step on the rocky pebbles poking beneath. Lacing up our shoes, we say farewell to Rialto in pursuit of another beach on the Olympic Coast to visit before sunset. 

Ruby Beach, farther south, is the beach of my dreams. Low tide exposes an expansive oasis of seastacks on the shoreline with sand that glistens reflections of clouds in the ripples that lightly brush the surface. The water is warmer where it has been gliding back and forth on the sand. A soft mist hovers around us as we walk through the cloud of seafoam. Towering columns of rock stand beside us while cormorants soar over these small islands for their nests. We follow the birds close enough for photos to identify them and skip through puddles of water like kids in the rain. I feel completely alive and at peace all at once in this coastal wilderness.

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