Getting Salty on the Washington Coast - Our Surf Trip on the Olympic Peninsula

It's that time of the year again - the prime peak of our busy summer season in the San Juan Islands. My fellow naturalist Rachel and I were stoked when we saw our schedules and realized that we'd have a chance to hop off the rock together for the weekend and get some adventure time away from the craziness. With a mostly-open itinerary and a car stuffed full of camping essentials, we drove onto our evening ferry from Friday Harbor to Anacortes and started scheming about our trip to the Olympic Peninsula.

I've been a few times before to the upper left coast of the U.S., but the most recent was last September, and it was cold. Not just the water, which is always freezing up here, but the air temperature too. This time, I was excited to see brilliant sunshine in the forecast for the entire weekend. We were headed to an area of the coast called La Push, known for some nice "beginner" surf breaks when the swell and tides are just right. I've been missing that salt since I left Maui in May (there's very few chances to actually get in the water up here), so I was hoping this trip would give me another healthy dose of vitamin sea. Equipped with some rental wetsuits, booties, gloves, and our own personal nerves of steel, there was nothing stopping us from grabbing our Wavestorms and charging into the waves.

It was so much fun. We rented the boards and gear from a nice, albeit not the most conversational, dude on the beach in La Push, so we didn't even have to carry them far. Saturday afternoon was a perfect blend of salty ocean play time and sun-drenched, exhaustion-induced beach naps. We spent hours playing around in the small waves. I don't surf well or nearly often enough (though I love it, and I've written about why in one of my favorite old blog posts here), and Rachel hasn't surfed in ten years, so we appreciated the chill vibes from our fellow surfers and the ocean.

Sunday morning was a different story. The rental boards were ours for 24 hours, so we decided to scoot over to the beach and attempt to catch a few more waves to maximize our ocean time. Mama Ocean had different plans, however; the swell had picked up quite a bit and the break was a lot more consistent. We managed to paddle out but spent the majority of the hour bobbing beyond the break in our safe zone, humbled by the larger waves. This ended up being a great way to spend the morning; I'd swap my morning coffee for the chance to drink in the sweeping views of sea stacks and sparkling blue water any day. That warm fuzzy feeling wasn't from the wetsuit - it was pure bliss created from floating on the big blue Pacific again.

We had plenty more in store for our weekend besides surfing, although it was a highlight. Rachel and I were both very go-with-the-flow, not stressing when our minimal plans got twisted around or altered. Things always somehow work out! We camped in some unexpected spots, met some incredibly friendly and passionate people, and ate some quality food. We stumbled upon farmer's markets, were given roses by a stranger from his garden just because, and shared a campsite at Deception Pass with the cutest little family who didn't mind at all that we'd accidentally set up our tent on their site. We strolled along miles of rocky shoreline, played around in tide pools, gazed up in awe at some amazing sea stacks, and read our kindles while falling asleep to the sounds of waves. 

It was very therapeutic to be by the open ocean once again, and the trip came at just the right time. I also enjoyed the relative ease with which every event unfolded. I'm amazed at how much simpler life can be when you practice acceptance of the current situation you're in. The present moment is always, after all, inevitable. Make it count. Make it beautiful. 

And if you have a chance, make it to the Olympic Peninsula. That rugged Washington coast is so worth it!

 First glimpses of First Beach - gorgeous.

First glimpses of First Beach - gorgeous.

 Crammed the boards in the back of Rachel's civic before we realized we could really just walk them down to the beach.

Crammed the boards in the back of Rachel's civic before we realized we could really just walk them down to the beach.

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 We were gifted these roses outside of the Thriftway grocery store in Forks, WA - just because.

We were gifted these roses outside of the Thriftway grocery store in Forks, WA - just because.

 An attempt to catch sunset at Rialto Beach - still beautiful, but no visibility. The aura was ethereal. 

An attempt to catch sunset at Rialto Beach - still beautiful, but no visibility. The aura was ethereal. 

 Morning at First Beach in La Push, WA

Morning at First Beach in La Push, WA

 Ready and waiting.

Ready and waiting.

 Morning nook.

Morning nook.

 Tide pooling at Hole in the Wall on Rialto Beach

Tide pooling at Hole in the Wall on Rialto Beach

 Rachel 

Rachel 

 Our new photographer friend Kai in the corner - such a nice guy!

Our new photographer friend Kai in the corner - such a nice guy!

 That wild coastline.

That wild coastline.

 Sea star!

Sea star!

 Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall

 Ocean beauty.

Ocean beauty.

 Hidden gem of a gastropub called Next Door in Port Angeles on the way home.

Hidden gem of a gastropub called Next Door in Port Angeles on the way home.

 Post camp/surf/hike weekend rewards.

Post camp/surf/hike weekend rewards.

 We almost didn't make this ferry to Coupeville from Port Townsend - but we snuck our car on at the last minute.

We almost didn't make this ferry to Coupeville from Port Townsend - but we snuck our car on at the last minute.

 We proceeded to see the most beautiful sunset from the ferry!

We proceeded to see the most beautiful sunset from the ferry!

 Camped at Deception Pass State Park on our last night, and woke up to the most beautiful hike through sunlit trees.

Camped at Deception Pass State Park on our last night, and woke up to the most beautiful hike through sunlit trees.

 Madrona tree in the early morning sunlight.

Madrona tree in the early morning sunlight.

 Bowman Bay

Bowman Bay

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