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.


28 Comments on “Olympic Peninsula Beach–How To Miss A Highway

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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

  4. Pingback: Four Posts That Inspired Me Today | One Woman's Quest II

  5. 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.


  6. 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!!!!


  7. The price seemed high when I checked online! BTW, reading this took me back a few years to Vancouver Island (Pacific side) walking through rain forest to the beach – your poem makes me want to head NW again.


  8. 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

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