John Guilford's Hikes
Dungeness Spit on 2001-04-10
People: (including myself): Pam
Parking Lot: 11:30 0
Spit: 11:50 0.5
Lighthouse: 1:35 5
End of Spit: 4:05 9.5
Parking Lot: 4:20 10
It was 38 degrees and raining, in other words, a typical April day in the
Pacific Northwest. But we wouldn't let that stop us from going on our
hike. We just dressed appropriately. On top I had my hooded Gore-Tex
jacket. For pants, we wore our stretch pants that we usually wear for XC
skiing. They were more water repellent than our blue jeans and would keep
us warmer when wet.
The first half mile is a trail through forest that brings you from the
parking lot to Dungeness Spit proper. Just before dropping down to the
beach, the trail provides a couple good viewpoints of the spit. There was
also a sign board listing the 200+ species of birds that one might see on
the spit, a wildlife sanctuary.
When we started, the tide was a bit before low tide, exposing quite a width
of beach. The firm, recently wet sand made the walking relatively easy.
Soon after starting on the beach, I discovered something that would plague
me for the rest of the hike. The stretch pants fit snuggly around my
calves. This allowed sand and small rocks to get kicked up and into the
top of my boots. This would generally lodge between my ankle bone and the
side of the boot, grinding away on my ankle as I walked. In hindsight, I
should have worn gaiters, but I didn't want to take the time to go all the
way back to the parking lot so I just put up with it, emptying the sand and
rocks from my boot when it got too annoying.
The southern edge of the spit is restricted for the wildlife sanctuary, so
hikers have to stay on the northern side. A half mile up the spit, we came
across a sign forbidding bikes, horses, and joggers from going any
further. Only hikers could continue. It wasn't at all clear why joggers
would be any different than hikers, but as we weren't jogging it wasn't an
issue. Nearby we found the wreckage of a boat beached up above high tide.
About a mile into the spit, Pam noticed some sea lions maybe fifty feet off
the shoreline. For the most part, they just poked their heads out of the
water and watched us. They seemed to be camera shy, however, disappearing
when I pulled my camera out. For most of the rest of the way to the
lighthouse, sea lions kept us company off and on. I don't think it was the
same group of sea lions - I think there were just lots of sea lions
scattered along the spit. Pam tried talking to them, but they never
For the first part of the spit, it seems the distant lighthouse never gets
any nearer. Eventually, however, it starts getting closer and you realize
that you may indeed make it all the way (the spit actually continues about
a half mile beyond the lighthouse, but that area is off limits to people).
We didn't know if the lighthouse was manned or not. The actual light is
pretty much automatic, but volunteers live at the lighthouse and give
tours, at least some parts of the year. We were really hoping there would
be someplace at the lighthouse that we could get out of the rain for at
least a little while. On one hand, I didn't want to get my hopes up only
to see them dashed when we got there. On the other, I really did want to
get out of the rain and have a snack.
We finally got to the lighthouse and didn't find too many visible signs of
life. There was a sign in a window in the lighthouse building indicating
public rest rooms. Yes! Not only was there someplace to get out of the
rain, but it was even indoors with a toilet! However, when we tried the
door we found it locked. We went over to the keeper's house and knocked on
the door. A lad of maybe 12 years answered our knock and told us he'd come
out to unlock it. They hadn't really expected any visitors that day due to
the crummy weather. Not only did we get a warm, dry place to take a break
and have a snack, we also got a half hour tour of the lighthouse.
Amazingly enough, the bulb used in the lighthouse is merely a 100W halogen
light about 3/4" high and 3/8" in diameter.
After the tour, we took our leave of the lighthouse and our young tour
guide and headed back along the spit. Unfortunately we were now heading
into the wind. The wind was relatively light, however.
My light glove liner gloves were thoroughly soaked and my hands got pretty
cold on the way back. I should have brought my ski gloves. We saw some
sea lions on the way back but not as many as we did on our way out to the
While it would have been nicer to hike the spit in nice, sunny weather, in
some way the rainy weather somehow seemed to fit the mood of the spit better.
View of Dungeness Spit from the trail from the parking lot.
View of Dungeness Spit from Spit level.
Dungeness Lighthouse from the mainland (looking over the top of
A wet Pam and John by the Lighthouse.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015