"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Campers

Well folks, we made it back alive-- smelly, sore, even poopy (some of us more than others)-- but very, very happy. Camping always does that to me.

The three of us plus my dad spent Friday and Saturday night out on the Olympic coast. This was our first overnight camping trip with Geneva, something I have been looking forward to since before she was even a twinkle in my eye, and we were absolutely determined to spend some quality outdoors time with her before the 2009 season ended. We chose a nice, gentle hike down to Third Beach just outside LaPush. The trail to the beach is only a mile, maybe a mile and a half long, and we pitched camp on the shore not far from the trail, so this was pretty ideal for a three-month-old's first backpacking excursion.

My real reason for choosing this particular place, though, is that it's just special. Avery spent many hours hiking along the Olympic beaches with his grandpa when he was a kid, and he and I have been hiking this particular route together for years, beginning at Third Beach and continuing over and around headlands down to Toleak Point. I literally begin planning each year's beach trip a year in advance, usually as we're packing up our gear to go home. It seems like each trip is-- I can't say this without sounding corny, but it's true-- magic. One year the tide was unusually high and we found ourselves caught between two small headlands that couldn't be climbed. We pitched our tent on the highest piece of ground we could find, behind a huge partially buried log. When we came out of our tent the tide was lapping at the log; we were standing on the only piece of dry land we could see, just the two of us. Last year we brought our wonderful friends Kristen and Alexis with us, and spent the first night singing songs and eating s'mores until all the marshmallows were gone. Later during that same trip we met a group of guys from Olympia all hiking together. One of them was Daniel Preble, and he and Kristen are now married with a beautiful baby boy. So, that little stretch of coastline from Third Beach to Toleak Point is my absolute favorite place in the world. When the weather is good it's such a beautiful place that it's almost surreal, but that's not really why I love it so much. It feels like a kidred spirit to me. If I could only take Geneva to one place this summer, it had to be my special beach.

This trip doesn't seem all that spectacular on paper. The weather was okay, not clear but not rainy, and there was a moderate number of other hikers. We ate good food and made warm fires and saw a lot of stars. It was a simple, peaceful trip. I loved getting to watch my daughter's face as she took in all of the new sights, sounds and smells for the very first time. Her mesmerized smile as she watched the waves wash back and forth on the sand is something I'll probably remember forever. I also really cherished the opportunity to spend time talking with Avery and my dad, which I can probably attribute to the snuggly campfires that kept me away from my sleeping bag late into the night. A relaxing little trip to my favorite place with some of my favorite people was exactly what I needed, and true to form I'm already planning next year's adventure.

Hitting the trail

Our first afternoon on the beach

Cozy jammies
Our view down the beach

A mom and her girl


Enjoying the sunset

Avery and Geneva

Sunset, day two

Hiking out

(Geneva fell asleep after about fifty yards of hiking. I tucked her head into the wrap to keep her from bobbing around too much. It looked uncomfortable but she didn't seem bothered.)

Laughing at Geneva

On the trail

(She might be a heavy sleeper, but when she's awake she's very awake. Geneva was a very curious hiker and wanted to look at everything. Here she's observing some woodland fauna.)

Goodbye for now, beach. Thank you for another awesome trip. We'll see you next year!


  1. Glad to hear you guys made it out. Too bad we missed you. Next year we'll have to coordinate a little better. And by the way, I LOVE the pic of Geneva in her jammies with your dad....so sweet!

  2. It would be super fun to go to the beach together with all of the kids! This particular year we were working around Avery's work schedule, and Jordan's too (although he hurt his knee at the last possible minute and couldn't go). We really were thinking of you guys but just couldn't get out there any sooner than Friday.