There is much to be said for the glory of a mountain hike.
Streams and waterfalls.
And if you play your cards right, at the top, a mountain lake or a flower-strewn meadow or a vista that knocks off your proverbial socks.
I love that my Pacific Northwest backyard is full of the best in mountain hikes.
For my money, a beach hike is where it's at.
Ebey's Landing for example, is a perfect day's adventure. Drop a pin about two-thirds the way up good ol' Whidbey Island, and hop a ferry; we made our way there in just over an hour.
^ The trail head parking is literally on the beach, and plenty of people had simply poured out of their cars and onto the sand, but our plan was to hike the 5.6 mile round trip Bluff Trail. Right out of the gates, the way leads up a steep hill through golden grasses under a perfect blue sky.
Warm sunshine tempered by crisp breezes off the water kept us cool as we climbed.
The Olympic Mountains stood guard on the horizon, and ahead through the Strait of Juan de Fuca we saw the wide open ocean.
^ Once we chugged our way up to the top of the bluff, the trail leveled off. Sunlight poured over us as we wound our way along the edge of the cliff, enjoying the broad vistas and wildflowers at our feet.
^ Though she has a firm understanding of the purpose of trails, and usually leads our hiking party exactly where we want to go, Gracie enjoyed a bit of off-road adventuring, occasionally exploring the grasses on both the up side and the down side of our trail.
^ The trail eventually leads round a bend in the land, and in a flash, Perego's Lake suddenly popped into view. Interestingly, this lagoon created a new sense of perspective for me, and I suddenly realized just how high we were above it.
^ Perhaps Gracie noticed that too; maybe she got a touch of vertigo or the heat of the day got the best of her. But as we passed a shady patch of grass under a tree along the trail, she suddenly detoured into the shadows and laid herself down, panting heavily. Poor pup was clearly pooped, so we broke out her trail drinking dish and our precious supply of water, and helped her cool down.
^ Soon enough, we were marching along again. The trail continued to wind along the bluff all the way to the far end of the lagoon, then dropped precipitously through a series of switchbacks down the grassy hillside to the beach.
^ As we hopped over the jumbled beach logs and crossed twenty feet to the shore, Gracie all but sprinted the final distance. She raced into the shallow waves, plopped down on her belly, and let the deliciously brisk waters wash over her overheated body.
^ I did the same.
Comfortably perched on an enormous beach log serving as both table and chairs, we broke out our picnic lunch and dined in the sunshine with our toes in the warm sand and the sparkling sea just beyond. I waded in the waves with Gracie, hunted for perfect white stones, and drank in the scenery.
^ And then, when we all felt rested, refreshed, and relaxed, we tied our shoes to our backpacks and walked barefoot along the wet sand for the return leg of our journey.
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Now I know that there are those who prefer the alpine adventure of a mountain hike. And I won't argue that. But for me, the salty scent of sea breezes, the sparkling sunshine on the water, and the sensation of sand under my feet carries me away to a magical place like nothing else. After more than three decades, I still pinch myself to believe that I live among these beautiful beaches, and I find the greatest joy in hiking them.
^ And as a bonus, the very best beach hikes, like this one, end with a ferry ride home
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More stories about beach hikes? Here you go:
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Wanna see some Instax photos I took on this hike? Go here