Tuesday, September 29, 2015

40/52: Hiking out to Dungeness Spit

Brian and I have talked about walking out to Dungeness Spit for over 10 year and this past weekend, we finally completed the journey.  We've spent most of our spring and summer training for the 11 mile round trip walk (GPS Tracker has us going a total of 13 miles).

Dungeness Spit was first founded by Europeans during the Spanish 1790 Quimper expedition.  The name "Dungeness" comes from the Dungeness Headland in England.  The spit was named by explorer George Vancouver in 1792, who wrote: "the low sandy point of land, which from its great resemblance to Dungeness in the Britich Channel, I called New Dungeness".

Dungeness Spit was formed by wind and water currents that formed river silt and glacial till to arch into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Over the centuries the spit has grown to over 5 miles.

You can hike the entire length of the spit to where a lighthouse has been keeping guard since 1857. The extreme tip, however, like the Dungeness Bay side of the split, is closed to public entry to protect important wildlife habitat. Over 250 species have been recorded on the spit and in the Dungeness Bay.

We planned this hike during low tide for easier walking on compact sand.  We caught an early morning ferry from Fauntleroy to Southworth and arrived at the National Wildlife Refuge about 9:45.  We each carried a backpack (mine was a camel-back) that included plenty of water, lunch/snacks and photography and video equipment. 

You follow the refuge trail for 3/4 mile through a maritime forest before descending to the beach. From this viewpoint we saw amazing views of the spit.  We dropped about 100 feet and emerged at the base of a tall bluff which is the start of the spit trail.  It's a straightforward hike from there to the lighthouse.  

To the lighthouse was easy.  The tide was out and the sand was compact with plenty of beach to walk on.  We stopped a few times, but I think our training really paid off.

Once we got to the lighthouse, we rested, ate our lunch and took a tour of the lighthouse including a museum and a 74 stair climb into the light tower for amazing views and pictures.

The journey back was tough.  The tide rolled in and we lost most of our beach.  We walked through deeper sand, rocks and climbed over driftwood.  By mile 11, we were spent, but managed to find our sense of humor and trudged on.

It was an amazing journey...and I don't just mean the walk to and from the lighthouse.   Setting goals and training brought Brian and I together on a shared journey.  The destination was spectacular but the journey leading up to the adventure was filled with challenges, pain, determination, frustration and awareness...ending in ultimate fulfilling rewards and a deep sense of accomplishment.

Yea, for us!