With a high bank of fog obscuring the morning sun, I was dropped off near the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal offices at the Blyn rest stop to hike one of the Olympic Discovery Trail's newest segments.
The trail parallels the highway for a short distance on the old highway. To the north, the tidal flats stretch into Sequim Bay. A pair of sailboats bobbed lightly in the still, gray water of the bay. Spring birds sang from budding branches alongside the trail and the grasses of the flats. The drone of autos passing by on Highway 101 buzzed in the air as the trail here is close to the highway.
I was walking with my in-laws' dog Shasta. She did what dogs often do at the beginning of hikes. Fortunately, I was prepared with baggies and relocated the deposit to a trash can at the gas station/deli across the highway.
A pair of bridges cross Jimmycomelately and Dean creeks, both part of an estuary and creek restoration process in recent years that already has seen increases in returning salmon spawning populations.
The creeks meander into the bay through native vegetation as they spread out in muddy rivulets where a log storage yard stood for a century. The last of the creosote-tainted pilings were removed in 2005 at the end of the multiyear project to improve habitat and prevent flooding. A great view of the estuary is available as the trail climbs a hill on the far side of Dean Creek on the bed of the old, now closed, highway.
The route passes a high fence surrounding property managed as a refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Oddly, there's a house at the center of it. Perhaps this is the Dawley property mentioned on the map as donated for a refuge, but walking by I couldn't tell.
At the two-mile mark, Dawley Road and Schoolhouse Road intersect. Continue straight ahead and follow the signs into Sequim Bay State Park's Camp Ramblewood.
A new, paved trail winds through the park and has a pleasantly groomed feel to it. By now, the sun had burned off the clouds and blue sky shone between the boughs of the firs overhead.
The trail drops down through the park before climbing back again, apparently to circumvent a removed trestle. Near the park were the first people I encountered on the trail. A pair of women wanted to know how much farther it was to the casino. I pulled out my map, printed from the Olympic Discovery Trail Web site, and showed them.
This next section may be my favorite of the trail.
A trestle resurfaced with concrete in 2008 by volunteers crosses Discovery Creek. It's a picturesque place but only a hint of the trestle majesty to come later on the trail. I came upon an old truck rusting in the underbrush; it was a little more picturesque than some of the other aging metal slowly dissolving into obscurity.
There are some nice views across a hillside field of the bay, its waters a much deeper and glistening blue in the sunlight and with the elevation.
After a short and steady climb up a slope labeled unstable, the trail crosses Whitefeather Way, resuming a short distance south on the road. At this point, I was back on trail I had hiked before. I paused here to drink some water, rest and give Shasta a break. Plus, I'd decided to wear my sandals and wasn't entirely pleased with the blisters they were giving me on my little toe.
After readjusting my footwear, we were back on the trail and came to the Johnson Creek trestle, the largest on the Olympic Peninsula. Its curved and banked track span nearly 500 feet that's 86 feet above the creek below. Walking through the treetops is a marvelously novel experience.
The trail rises and falls another mile and a half as it parallels East Washington Street and once again comes close to the highway. As the trail comes into the sunny prairie around Sequim, it passes a small tree festively decorated with red Christmas ornamental balls. I've always liked this tree.
The route turns north on North Rhodefer Road past some farm fields and interesting buildings before wending its way through Carrie Blake Park. Lots of folks were out the day I hiked, including half a dozen dogs frolicking in the off-leash park south of Carrie Blake Park.
The trail comes out on Blake Avenue at Fir Street; continue ahead on Fir several blocks to North Sequim Avenue where the trail resumes. Signs clearly mark the way along the entirety of the trail. An open irrigation ditch runs alongside the paved trail/sidewalk and exercise stations now accompany the route. The trail turns on Hendrickson Road, behind the
Sequim schools complex. Shasta and I watched youths playing soccer in the fields across the street and startled a brightly plumed mallard that flew out of the irrigation ditch at our feet. Shasta was too tired even to notice the bird.
Though the trail continues all the way to Port Angeles and beyond, our hike for the day was done and we headed home once we hit Fifth Avenue. Now, the only section of the trail I haven't hiked, other than the Adventure Trail west of Port Angeles, is the short stretch from Priest Road to Railroad Bridge Park. Next time.
Leif Nesheim is hiking columnist and a former reporter for the Sequim Gazette. He is a reporter at the Daily World in Aberdeen. He can be reached at lnesheim