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Last weekend was my annual Coastsavers weekend, so I returned to my adopted beach for the fourth or fifth year in a row--I'm losing track. Last year, I attempted to camp at the trailhead for the first time. The Park Service offers free camping that day, assuming many of the people who show up this early in the year are there to participate in the coast clean-up effort. Some do, some don't. It's always funny to see the campers and boy scouts heading out on the 3-mile walk to the beach, all baffled by the incoming loads of trash. Anyway, after last year's effort at camping next to a bunch of "bros" who were practicing their loud and casual sexism late into the night (really, that's all you guys have to talk about?), I was reminded about how much I hated car camping in crowds, and didn't bother this year. Stayed at my favorite inn in Port Townsend and made my way out first thing in the morning.

Raining this year. This is normally not a big deal to me. I go hiking in the rain all the time. However, the Ozette triangle has wooden boardwalks for a significant portion of the trail--at least 2 of the 3 miles. These are made of old wood, and bare wood, and get slick as hell in the rain. I put on my pack and walked out semi-quickly and VERY carefully.

The awesome thing is that all the stewardship is really paying off. Of course, there is still a lot of marine debris on the beach, but this year wasn't as dire as it has been. People have been staying on top of the tsunami trash, and therefore anything else floating up. (This was my third time out in a year, and I know Coastsavers sponsored another event last fall. It's making a difference.) There was still plenty of crap out there, but I was actually expecting it to be much worse. I spotted tsunami trash aplenty last year, but this year, not so much. The enormous styrofoam floats have all been broken down and/or carried out, and they were the worst remnants of the storm.

I still managed to load my pack completely full and balance two more bags on each side. It wasn't the heaviest load--still had a ton of styrofoam--so I tackled the worst thing I saw that day: a heavy ship sink. God only knows where it came from. It's buoyant, since it apparently washed ashore with some other wooden wreckage (pallets, not obvious boat wreckage). It took all my spare straps to get that thing on my backpack, bolstered up with some scavenged rope. The weight was pretty high on my back, so threw my balance off a bit, but portable. Carrying that thing back on the boardwalk was SO not fun, though. I had to walk at a snail's pace or risk falling, which meant it took close to two hours to haul that thing to the dumpster. Still, the Park rangers and Coastsaver folks at the staging ground reacted with appropriate enthusiasm, gave me cookies, and sent me off with a cheery, "See you next year!"

I also found what appeared to be dynamite, but could have been flares or some such. They were saturated with sea water, but I put a pile of floats around them to warn people off and sent off an email about it when I got home. No reports of anyone blowing up their hands yet, in any case.




You can't see exactly how much junk there is in the dumpster from this pic, but it was quite a lot. I've seen worse on previous years.

Awesome woman I met on the beach.
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Jen Kleis

November 2014


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