On an Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal Cruise, the Wilderness Adventurer sailed under the Deception Pass Bridge into a peaceful cove. Currents at Deception Pass can get a bit wild, so the captain had to time the coming and going under the bridge according to the tides and currents. The bridge was built in the 1930’s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Repainting the bridge in later decades cost more than building it did originally.
Following a tasty breakfast on board anchored not far from the bridge, passengers grouped for the morning’s activities. Choices included a guided kayaking trip, an all-day hike in the forest, a morning jaunt on a forest trail, or a short nature walk on a paved path. We picked the medium-length hike, labeled as the Hoypus Forest Jaunt.
We landed on a beach at Hoypus Point in Deception Pass State Park. Quite the perfect spot for a landing as a couple stairs led from the beach to the trail.
Someone from a drier state commented on how they couldn’t believe how green everything is in Western Washington. That’s what plentiful rainfall will do. It’s not that far in miles from the Olympic rainforest where we hiked in a downpour the other day to Deception pass, but the difference in annual rainfall is distant. There are a lot of microclimates on and near the Olympic Peninsula. Where Hoodsport gets around 70-90 inches of rain, the much drier Deception Pass area on Whidbey Island only gets about 20-26, which is about half the amount of rain Seattle gets each year.
We hiked a loop around a forest trail. This area still has some massive old growth trees, which is defined as anything older than 200 years. Even old growth trees here don’t grow as big as in some other places because the islands are mainly rock.
Stinging nettles lined both sides of the trail at the start of the hike, which definitely encourages people to stay on the trail to avoid getting stung. Further into the forest ferns and huckleberry bushes dominated the underbrush. It’s nice that ferns often grow near nettles because fern juice can ease the itching of an accidental nettle sting. The trees mainly consisted of douglas fir, spruce, and hemlock. They are all evergreens, but have differences in the bark and needles.
Eventually our trail joined up with the paved path to take us back to the beach. Little daisies grew alongside the path and in wetter areas we found skunk cabbage. Not all flowers smell sweet and skunk cabbage is aptly named. It mainly grows in swampy areas, but here was in a drainage ditch. The paved path ran along the water’s edge and in places offered a nice view of the bridge between the trees.
The paved path is actually an access road for park personnel. A truck came down the path and stopped before the narrower trail leading to the beach where we landed. A fisheries guy with rubber boots and a fish net walked along the beach parallel to the trail. When we arrived at the beach we saw him at the water’s edge dipping his net.
A few curious people wandered down and found out he was a fish counter from the state fisheries department. Lots of tiny pink salmon fry bunched up near the gravelly beach there. They hatch in a nearby river and make their way into the salt water. Then they hang out near the beach for a few weeks to grow and mature before heading out to sea. They stay in the shallows because the things that want to eat them need a bit deeper water. One of the reasons natural growth areas with trees to shade the shallow water is so important to the survival of native fish runs.
Deception Pass State Park is a very popular place, but it also sprawls out over 134 acres, mainly on Whidbey Island. It has a campground, picnic area, and 38 miles of hiking trails. We did not see many other park visitors on the trail we took so it seemed remote. Deception Pass was named by early explorers who initially thought they had found a bay by a peninsula rather than a pass by an island.
As the consummate landlubber, and not a cruiser, I like your Wilderness Adventurer tales. My friend, Milton, and I would have chosen the short nature walk on a paved path. Of course, the second we’d see a banana slug in person, we would have hoped to hop on a taxi so we wouldn’t have to walk back to the ship. I know there probably isn’t a subway that runs out there.
You’re right about the subway, we don’t have any. There’s no taxis in the forest either, but never fear, a slow step or two and you would outrun a banana slug. They don’t move very fast. They eat plants, not people. The worst it could do is leave a slime trail.
A definite local wonderland. The range of rainfall on the peninsula surprised me!
There’s an even bigger gap in annual rainfall between Forks and Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula. Forks (of Twilight fame) lies in a rainforest near the coast on the west side of the Olympic Mountains and receives about 120 inches of rain each year. Sequim, on the other hand, is at the north tip of the Peninsula on the east side of the Olympics – about 70 miles from Forks. Sequim (pronounced Squim) is technically classified as a desert with 11-16 inches of rainfall.
Holy Smokes Bullwinkle … that’s amazing! So many don’t know that parts of the Pacific coastline is a temperate rain forest.
You do a very lovely job with your cruise tales as I enjoy your pictures and the facts. Deception Pass is a favorite of mine as my husband and I were married on the cliffs overlooking the pass. Great Job!
What a great place for a wedding. Such a dramatic backdrop. I hope the weather cooperated and brought some sunshine to your special day.
We were married in August. It was 86 that day…. there was no question that the sun would shine on us. We had a simple reception at my home in Kirkland. Trying to stay cool was another issue! 😉
So many trails to hike. I could spend a lot of time there. I would have picked the long hike but if I was with my wife we probably would have done the medium hike. She likes hiking for about three hours but after that she just wants to get back to camp or the car if it was a day trip.
I have often wondered if they saved any old growth trees in Washington and am glad they saved a few. After living in California for the past 50 years I had almost forgotten about some of the things you mentioned such as nettles and skunk cabbage, with which I was familiar while growing up in Washington.
What a great way to spend a day. A cruise to nowhere, a great breakfast and a day out and about with mother nature. My kind of day
I agree a cruise to nowhere would be nice, though I’ve never done one. This trip was a week-long small-ship adventure cruise out of Seattle with stops on the Olympic Peninsula and on several of the San Juan Islands. Most stops were nature hikes, kayaking, or skiff tours, but we did explore the towns of Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. Though quite different from the average cruise, it was a lot of fun.