It isn’t really a time warp, more of a wilderness warp.
Leaving from Lake Ozette in Olympic National Park, hikers and backpackers pass through one world and into another. The Cape Alava-Sand Point Loop - also known as “the Triangle” - is a testament to the varying wonder found within the park.
Two legs of the triangle are formed by narrow cedar-plank boardwalks through lush, green forests for three miles, culminating at the doorstep of the Pacific Ocean (a three-mile stretch of beach forms the third leg). It is a dramatic transition, from sword ferns to tide pools, moss-covered trees to picturesque “sea stack” rocks rising above the ocean surf.
“People enjoy camping out on the beach and the easy access makes the Triangle so popular,” said Dan Messaros, a park ranger at the Ozette Ranger Station. “It’s an easy hike and people get to see wilderness along with ocean coastline.”
Marine life and forest mammals live together in a setting largely undisturbed by people. Deer nap on the beach, eagles soar overhead, sea lions bask on the rocks several hundred feet out while otters play in the surf.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, only 300 overnight backcountry permits are available per day in an effort to combat overcrowded camping areas. (The permits, however, can be reserved up to 30 days in advance.) The park restricts access to help maintain the natural setting.
Campsites dot the outer edge of the forest at both the Cape Alava and Sand Point areas, where it’s possible to camp in the woods with a view of the ocean. Many people prefer to camp directly on the beach, although anyone wishing to sleep under the stars should realize the weather on the coast can change without warning.
The three-mile stretch of coast is a part of the most spectacular beach hiking the state, or the country, has to offer. Continuing north to Shi Shi Beach and the Point of the Arches (seven miles), or south to Rialto Beach (17 miles), the terrain is even more remote and wild - and beautiful.
The beach is protected by the Olympic Park boundary while the rocks and small islands offshore are protected by the Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.
Countless species of birds nest in those rocks while tide pools provide even more exhibits of nature’s splendor.
There is an occasional bear sighting, but it’s rarely (if ever) a problem, according to Messaros. The raccoons, however, are a different story. They are unusually aggressive, so special precautions should be taken to keep your food from becoming theirs. Wire is strung from several trees near Cape Alava and Sand Point for the hanging of food, and Messaros recommends plastic, five-gallon buckets for a camper’s food and personal hygiene products (anything with a scent).
Park rangers strongly discourage feeding any of the wildlife, especially the deer.
“Once everybody is gone at the end of the season, the deer are still looking for a handout,” Messaros said. “It throws their feeding patterns off.”
MEMO: Beach info Call (360) 452-0300 for more information or to reserve permits.