Picture of the ocean, looking at a big rock formation at the shores edge.

Photo taken July 1995.  This location is Elephant Rock outside of Taholah WA. in the Qulnault Indian Reservation.  Chief/president Joseph DeLaCruz (1937 - 2000,) gave me special permission to camp there.  I waited outside of his house for three mornings before he would allow me to camp on their land.  I arrived at his house each morning at 4am, then at about 5:30am he would come out walking to his office.  I would walk with him, trying to talk him into letting me camp on their land.  After three days of that, he finally gave in and allowed me to use their land.  In fact, he allowed me to camp for as long as I wanted, whenever I wanted.  This area has more black bears than any place on Earth; in any given day, I would encounter ten, twenty, sometimes thirty bears; but not once did I ever have a problem with them.  The times we had face-to-face encounters, they would run off like scared dogs.  There are more eagles, deer, and bear there than I have ever seen in my extensive camping adventures.  However, the land is off limits to all non Indians.  Non Indians must be invited guests, and those who pester them until invited :)  It is 70 miles of untouched beachfront ocean land; untouched by roads, houses, or people.  I camped there for six weeks the first time; I only saw people once, a group of old people with a guide.  In all, I camped there four times, and made a name for myself cleaning up the land.  This area is the Qulnault sacred medicine land.

Picture of the beach looking down the shoreline.

The ocean shore looking south.  The only footsteps for twenty-five miles were mine.  I spent my days finding Japanese glass balls.  They spent more than thirty years floating in the ocean.  When a storm would occur out at sea, it would cause some of the glass balls to get past the barrier reefs and ultimately wash up on shore... waiting to be found.  In the background of this picture, in the mid left side there is a red speck, that is actually a six foot plastic container that washed up.  Even though the picture does not show it, there was a lot of trash that washed up on shore; plastics of all types and other things that floated.   On my second camp trip there, I found hundreds of pieces of hockey gear that apparently were on a ship in a container that fell overboard.  I spent many days cleaning up the trash that washed up on shore and burning it.

Picture of the ocean on a stormy day; mist in the air, and wind blowing.

A stormy day on the ocean could be wild.  High tide, wind, and rain were pounding the shore.  For some reason, I like those stormy days, so long as there were not too many.  Watching out for those sneaker waves was fun, they sometimes hit so hard that spray would get me up on the ridge. 

Waves on a stormy day

Morning mist on the ocean.  Once I was walking in the morning mist when I came upon a group of deer eating seaweed.  When we saw each other, everyone stood still for a few minutes just looking at each other eye to eye.  After a while, they went back to what they were doing, so I slowly walked around them, within thirty-feet and then kept on going down the beach.  They could tell that I was no threat to them.

Picture of the ocean with rock formations sticking out of the water, with trees on top of them.

I found an old octagonal cabin up on top of the rock you see in the far background.  I had to work hard to get up there, whoever built it must have been quite strong to haul all that building material up there.  It had been empty for many years, the windows were broken out, and no doors, but it still had enough protection that you could spend a night there if you wanted.  It was once a nice place to live.  When I got back to Taholah, I asked who built it, but all anyone knew was that it was an Indian Vietnam vet, who lived and died there.  No one I talked to remembered his name.

Picture of big rocks on the shore, like big balls just sitting there.

Looking north towards endless wilderness shores, there were no people, no roads, no houses, no signs of life other than the animals.  It felt like 3,000,000BC in many ways.  Sometimes I walked so far that it was eight hours walking back.  These rock formations meant that I had another five miles to go to my camp.  Some days it seemed like a long way still to go... and other days it seemed I was almost home.  I was absolutely addicted to beachcombing.

Picture of Elephant rock, showing arches cut into the rock formations.

Another picture of Elephant Rock looking westwards.  When the tide would come up, it would completely surround the rock.  I had to wait six hours once, waiting for the tide to go down so I could get off it.  However, it was a nice place to be stuck.  I learn to pay more attention to the tides.  There are two high tides and two low tides a day.  There timing changes from day to day; you have to watch the water to see the approaching high tides.  You could have a tide-table, but that is taking civilization with you; I was playing the learn as you go prehistoric wanderer.

Picture of driftwood along the shore.

I sure did love this place.  There was always more unexplored beach to explore as far as the eye could see.  I must have walked several hundred miles while I was there; twenty miles this way, and twenty miles that way, almost every day for six weeks.  Every day there were new things to find.  Often, I was carrying a load of stuff, glass balls, plastic balls, interesting rocks, and polished shells.  On any given day, I would rescue starfish and crabs that were on their backs trying to flip over; sometimes they would make it, but the next wave flipped them over again, I guess life on the beach can be difficult.  The seagulls would eat many of them if they did not get back into the water quick enough.  I could not save them all, but I tried.

Picture of a trash pile I was building to clean up the beach.

I spent many days cleaning up the shoreline, and made eleven of these trash piles.  It was my way of thanking the land for allowing me to be a part of it for a while.  This pile is about four feet high.  It is one of the smaller piles I made.  Those tracks in the background are raccoon tracts.  Every time I would leave to get more trash, they would check out my piles.  They were a common feature along the beach, hardly a day went by that I did not see them.

Another picture of a larger trash pile, with a trash pile burning in the distant background.

This pile was about seven feet high. In the background, you can see another pile burning.  I lit three at a time.  One of the piles was so big that the flames were fifty feet high, and I was very afraid that it would catch the tree line on fire.  Many of these fires would take hours to burn completely.  I would not leave a fire until the tide washed it away; sometimes that would take all day.  During that trip, it took about ten days to clean and burn the washed up trash.

Another trash pile fire burning along the shore line

This was my last fire that I made; I could not find any more stuff to burn.  So... I went about finding more glass balls; on average, I would find one or two a day.

Picture of the distant shore line, showing trees up along the ridge.

More shoreline.  During high tide some parts of it was impassable.  I would hike up along the ridge.  I found a skeleton of a whale up there; it must have taken someone a lot of work to get it there.  Either that or a super large wave washed it up there?  The most amazing thing I saw that day was up along the upper right tree line, where three eagles were in some sort of mating interaction.  As I was watching two eagles flying together making circles around each other, and sometime flying so close they could have been touching one another, after a while, a third eagle came and started flying with them.  Two of the eagles, I think the two males, started fighting in the air doing incredible aerial acrobatics - flying around and at each other; sometimes even flying upside down and sideways with talons streched out.  One of the battling eagles would land on a tree, grab bark with its talons, then fly above the other and drop chunks of bark on him.  After a few times of this, the eagle made some kind of mistake and ended up hanging upside down on a tree limb.  Through the binoculars, I could see the eagle looking around trying to figure out how to get out of the mess he was in; it was a thirty or forty foot drop.  Then all of a sudden, the eagle just let go and fell while still upside down.  As it was falling, it rolled over a bit, opened its wings and glided out, as if he had done it a thousand times before.  The grace in which he turned and opened his wings was perfect motion.  I was awe struck with how beautiful and graceful he made it look.  They continued to battle for another twenty minutes before one flew off.

The road going to Elephant rock, very narrow with trees bending over in an arch.

This is the road going to Elephant Rock .  The road stops about a half-mile from the ocean; you have to hike through dense forest to get to Elephant rock; it is quite secluded.  Every few miles I found old paths going deep into the woods.  Most of them were woodcutter paths left over from logging days.  They were like Hobbit trails with small wood footbridges going over small gullies and muddy places.  On one path, about a mile in, I found a wood footbridge that went through patches of dense trees and brush, winding for about a quarter-mile.  It was like walking through a mystical tunnel in the woods.  Adding to the effect, it was so dense that it was dark, and there were long strands of moss hanging down from the trees, as if every tree was a shadow of an old man.  I am a little guy, and at the time - with several weeks of beard, I felt like a Hobbit as I was walking through.  Good thing that I did not lay down and take a nap, I might have woken up with a very long beard... oh wait, that was Rip Van Winkle; okay, I would just have been a hairy hobbit.

Picture showing a big tunnel going through Elephant rock.

This is Elephant Rock surrounded by the tide.  It may look easy to get on top of Elephant Rock, but it was not; it took me an hour to find a way up, and getting down was even tougher.  However, I made the climb many times.  On the ocean side, was a spectacular panoramic view of the entire ocean horizon.  It was always well worth the effort to get up there.  Add in the sounds of waves crashing, and seagulls crying; and you can almost smell the sea air...  I felt it was an absolute honor to be there.

Sunset over the ocean.

Sunset over paradise.  Almost every night had a spectacular sunset.  I would see more bears at sunset scavenging along the shore than any other time of day... I think they liked the sunsets too.   I spent many sunsets just sitting there in awe of it all.  Out there is three-fourths of the world...

 

 

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