Olympic Peninsula Beach–How To Miss A Highway

To get to the beach, we hike

Through the smell of pine

So thick, we can taste it.

The trail is carpeted with needles–

We think we’re the first humans

To arrive on a new planet.

Trees older than Columbus

With golden brown skin, black bark, tar

Pillars of a wild palace.

The sound of Highway 101

Fades behind us, reminds us

Where we came from

Aberdeen, Long Beach, Astoria

The cozy rainfall of Portland



Then it stretches before us

That untamed beach,

Ocean, greyed-out by sky reflection.

Sand, a mess, tossed, turned.

The raw shore, green, dense

Mangled, perfect.

The wind, never ceases

If it did, it would be Armageddon

Heaven, or science fiction

Which are the same things

As far as the peninsula is concerned


We have our backpacks on.

Nylon and aluminum, easily bent and torn.

The infrastructure.

Yet, they hold freeze-dried ice cream

Dried pad thai with tofu

Foam pads, a pipe and a little stash

The bare essentials.

At night, we tie our packs to tree limbs,

in case of tofu eating bears

Stoner cougars, sweet tooth coyotes

A wildlife piñata


The rain hit

This is no Portland sprinkle

This is a northern coastal drenching.

We set up the tarps, plastic sheets

With nylon rope, rocks as anchors

Tucked ourselves in, wedged against wind

Until the morning arrives

As grey as the ocean

Our supplies gone, the tree limb too

Our backpacks found strewn

In the shrubs


My car keys, safely in my pocket

jab my leg.

We listen for the highway.


This entry was posted in Poetry, Portraits and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Olympic Peninsula Beach–How To Miss A Highway

  1. I was just out there a few weeks ago. You’ve captured the wild and impetuous mood of the peninsula so well. It’s amazing such raw nature is so close to the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dornahainds says:

    Quite a Remarkable trip, indeed.


  3. Christie says:

    Nice, relatable, very well described.


  4. Ernie Quatrani says:

    Excellent imagery! Helped me experience the trip in sensory depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wildlife piñata. So descriptive! Love your page. It brightens my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, WOW. And how did I not know about freeze-dried ice cream?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You did indeed capture the wildness…I visited Portland, and we have a rugged area here on the Island that would test the metals of any hiker, it’s called Brooks Peninsula and they even did a tv show about it. You get injured out there, your in trouble. They have plenty of bears, cougars and other wildlife. I could envision Brooks Peninsula through your writing. As much as envisioning your trip. So well written!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great poem! Loved how you vividly described the whole experience in poetic yet very real way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Brought back memories of my hiking days aound there… Love your imagery!


  10. Emma Beane says:

    Truly a striking image… your poetry blends perfectly! Cheers! 🙂


  11. julieallyn says:

    I absolutely LOVE this! Well done. Very well done.


  12. rubiescorner says:

    This is so descriptive.


  13. Kris says:

    I lived in Tillamook for almost 20 years. Volunteered with numerous Cub Scout activities. I could feel, see, and smell each line of this writing. Good work!!!!


  14. vivachange77 says:

    You created a space for me to wander back years ago to canoeing in the Algonquin Park. Nothing rugged but unforgettable to be in a place where you hang your food on a tree at night and can drink the water from the lake. Your poetry is alive with experience.


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  16. Fabulous! I have visited this area and you described it wonderfully!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Renee Espriu says:

    I can see you there. Love the coastal scenery of 101. Reminds me of when I backpacked years ago now and although I can no longer do it I love the memory of it just the same. Love your poem here.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow….what an exciting fabulous adventure.


  19. emmamassick says:

    Absolutely beautiful photo. I can almost feel the misty air on my face. Also, thank you for the like! Now, I’ve gotta go travel on the 101!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. tabbyrenelle says:

    i like the part where you were worried about tofu eating bears. too funny. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Phil Huston says:

    There is nothing as savagely beautiful, or powerful, as a bit of empty NorCal coastline. The signs all say “Danger” and yet the sting of cool mist, the wild birds and timeless battle between water and rock are more intoxicating than any siren’s song.


  22. That wildlife pinata, good stuff Elan…I guess the bears thought so too! Haven’t been out to that coast line in years. Thanks for bringing me back there.


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