Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves

Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Beauty is truth, truth beauty—John Keats

A photo story of a 600-mile motorcycle tour of The Evergreen State.

Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Riding old Washington’s rural splendor for 40 miles on Highway 6 between Raymond and Chehalis is another knockout on this tour. Also, not to be missed on this ride is the Hama Hama Oyster Company, located where the Hamma Hamma River drains into the Hood Canal. Enjoy them raw, grilled or smoked at the outdoor bar, with a magnificent view of the canal gorge created by a glacier 1,000 years ago.
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Ride the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Canada and you’ll conclude that Washington’s grand swath of it is unique. Much of it isolated by road-less wilderness, much of it off limits on Native American reservations, but enough of it is here to ride and witness that it hasn’t yet been defiled by commercial real estate interests. The sea and the elements still rule on this spectacular 20-mile stretch of virgin shoreline on Highway 101, between the mouth of the Hoh River and Queets, with the lighthouse on aptly named Destruction Island visible in the distance and referenced in Murray Morgan’s The Last Wilderness, my favorite book of Olympic Peninsula history: “In 1775 two Spanish vessels, a ship and a schooner, under Bruno Heceta, made a landfall here. They landed and claimed the land for His Majesty the King, Don Carlos Ill. The next day a party was sent ashore to fill the schooner’s water kegs; the Indians ambushed them, killing or capturing all six. Desperately short-handed, the expedition returned to Mexico.”
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Ediz Hook, a three-mile-long sand spit created by eons of wind and tidal action along the southern edge of the Strait of Juan De Fuca which carries sediment from the delta of the Elwha River eastward, resulting in a fine deep-water harbor protected by a natural arc of land and a bracing ride out to sea, features a panoramic view of Port Angeles. At its terminus, there’s a U.S. Coast Guard station and at its base, a paper mill and a big log deck that embody many pages of Olympic Peninsula history.
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
In the Hoh Rain Forest arboreal magnificence reaches its zenith in a stand of old-growth Sitka Spruce that weaken your knees. Pictured here: Riding under a smashing arbor of alder on the road to the visitor center. Is it any wonder when loggers first arrived here in the 19th century from their denuded forests in Maine that they freaked?
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Twenty miles or so of Highway 101—as it skirts the south shore of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last unspoiled estuaries on the west coast—will light your riding fire, sweeping and swooping through a paradise of lagoon and sea grass in that passionate dance we all know and love.
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
It’s not mandatory to park your bike and row a kayak for a harbor tour of Raymond, on the Willapa River, but I’ll call your ex-wife and tell her where you hid the assets if you don’t, because an up-close and personal look at the astonishing century-old swinging railroad bridge, a structural engineering masterpiece, is an unforgettable experience.
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
Riding the circuitous eastern shore of Lake Crescent is a challenge because your eyes mustn’t stray from the road and that requires self-discipline, because it’s a stunning body of water. Orphaned by a glacier and impounded by an avalanche 6,000 years ago, it’s nitrogen free and thus as clear and clean as a wish. Its depth hasn’t been accurately measured, but reputedly it approaches 1,000 feet. Two unique species of fish, the Beardslee trout and the Crescenti cutthroat, live here and nowhere else in the world.
Western Washington: Wilderness & Waves
PUR Quality Growers, a leader in legal, licensed, and regulated marijuana cultivation, is a Raymond, WA, enterprise that’s helping to take up the economic slack caused by declines in the traditional industries of logging and commercial fishing.