One of the advantages of living in the Northwest is some spectacular scenery and hiking in the Olympic National Park. The park has a strip of narrow land that runs along the pacific coast and is some of the most beautiful scenery with old growth timber I have ever seen. In March of 1998, we went camping in an area named Third Beach. The year of this trip was a one hundred year record for rainfall in our area; that should be an indicator of what was to come!
We had our usual after school departure from the church parking lot with four adults and six Scouts. It was raining when we left town and still raining when we arrived at the head of the trail. We quickly got on our packs and hiked the 1/2 mile to the beach. We were greeted by another troop already there, with EVERY single available space occupied. Camping on the beach in front of the driftwood was not an option because of the storm tides. By now it was dark, still raining and the wind started blowing.
Plan "B" called for us to hike another 1/2 mile down the beach to camp on Taylor Point. This would involved climbing a rope ladder, which is not normally a problem. We were a sight going down the beach in the dark--the Scoutmaster ahead of us holding a coleman lantern, watching for incoming waves (did I neglect to mention that the tide was coming in?), would shout "incoming!" when he saw a big one. We would all scurry as high up on the beach as we could get to avoid getting wet.
Arriving at the rope ladder, we had another surprise. Normally, there is a rope (3" diamter poly material) hanging down the ladder that you can use to help balance youself as you pull yourself up the ladder. This rope was laying in a heap at the bottom of the ladder and the ladder was tipped at a crazy angle against the cliff because of severe erosion caused by all the heavy rains. good thing we had extra adults this trip!
Up the ladder we went, to be greeted by another surprise--a large tree lying across the trail. We scrambled over and through the tree as best we could, and finally arrived at our campsite. We put up a tarp to provide some shelter from the rain and a place to cook, and set up camp. By now, most of us were a bit frazzled by the adverse conditions. Responses ranged from "I ain't going to bed until I cook this can of beans" to "call me in the morning."
It rained hard all night until about 4 A.M. when the rain stopped. I thought "It's about time! maybe we can get some sunshine after all?" However, when the rain stopped, the wind started blowing big time. We were camped in some BIG trees and both the Scoutmaster and I were worried about falling branches. However, we figured that this was the end of a record storm season and anything that was going to come down had probably already fallen. Fortunately, we were correct. The wind blew for about 2 hours, and then the rain started again!
In the morning, I heard the voice of our Scoutmaster, "Gentlemen, plan "B". Stay in your tents, use your lunch for breakfast, and stay comfortable. We cannot leave until the tide goes out."
After a bit, I yielded to the call of nature and got up. The rain had slowed to a tolerable drizzle by this time but there was still a lot of wind. Venturing over to our lookout point, I peered up the beach from where we had come the night before. There was NO visible beach. All was covered by the high tide and storm surf. We knew this was going to happen, but it was still pretty spectacular to realize we were stuck on that point until the tide went out!
After a lunch of sorts, when the tide has gone out we descended from the point and hiked back out to our cars. We were GLAD to see the cars again. Did I mention it was still raining?
On our way back, we made our obligatory stop at Burger King; What a sight! We looked like a pack of drowned rats. 4 adults, 6 Scouts, that had obviously been in the rain! When I got to the cashier, she asked "how come everybody's money is all wet?" I just busted out laughing.
So it rained for the entire campout, and we learned we can survive in a rainstorm of epic proportions. no one got hurt. The boys who were there still remember this one.
Rope Ladders: made of 6"x6" wood, about 3' long, with steel cable thru each end and clamped into position. The steps are about 24" apart. This ladder is securely anchored at the top of the embankment or cliff that you need to get up. A large diameter poly rope usually is attached to the ladder so you have something to help with balancing and pulling yourself up the hill.
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