“You should check it out–especially at sunset–and especially at this time of year.” says my friend who lives nearby in Port Angeles, Washington.
It’s just past summer solstice, and evenings are long. The air is warm and salty. Waves crash. Late afternoon light is somewhat interesting today. It’s cloudy, which may or may not produce a decent sunset–or none at all. But I’m returning to Civilization after a few blissful days backpacking at Shi Shi beach in Olympic National Park and need a slow break-in. I don’t need to be anywhere right now. Making my way toward Ediz Hook, I’m banking on a nice sunset. I’m well prepared with requisite gooey stinky cheese, charcuterie, and baguette. I wonder about the huge, serpentine buildings as I negotiate tight turns directly through them to the east end of the Hook.
Ediz Hook has long been used as a staging area for thousands of logs destined for the currently shuttered pulp mill at the west end, near town. At its eastern extreme is a Coast Guard lighthouse and station. A bird sanctuary now replaces log booms, and tall fences surround the dead mill.
Wind picks up, rocking my car. Whitecaps appear as I slowly drive along the 3 miles toward the Coast Guard station. Spray is hitting the windshield. Seems like a storm is rolling in. I’m here already, so why not just wait and see? Stormy sunsets can be cool. Or not.
For a moment, it seems as though a mottled wall of grey will turn darker and fade away.
Wait a minute. Now the color starts, slowly, just before sunset. Rays brush the Olympic mountains and offshore waves with a golden glow.
Clouds turn from dirty cotton batting to golden fleece with each minute, against a sky ranging from powder to ultramarine. It’s hard to know which way to look. Each direction is unique and carries the color differently.
The sun is setting; wind slows for a brief respite. Everything is vermillion.
As afterglow sets in, colors deepen and darken; hot pink rays against cobalt skies. I’m astounded by the layers. Is this the best sunset I’ve seen? Only a couple others compare. And I was about to skip this? Note to self: never skip possible sunset.
Clouds create odd periwinkle shadow fingers on top of tangerine and pink lemonade clouds. My mouth is still hanging open. Spectacular. Curiously, I’m one of just a few who chose to drive out to the jetty. Glad I grew some patience. The payoff is one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen. It lasted almost two hours. And it’s an easy day trip from Seattle.
IF YOU GO
I highly recommend a day trip “out to the peninsula”. Pt Angeles is the gateway to Olympic National Park. Along the way, Pt. Townsend, Ft. Flagler, and Glass Beach are just a few jewels easily experienced. Plenty to do and see, no matter the weather. Historic buildings, museums, and antique shops await.