A single lane winds through the trees on your way to La Push beach. The Spruce trees stretch so tall, thick, and deep there’s no seeing through or over them. Everything around your path is green and brown, until suddenly you round a final bend. The trees disappear, and the gray ocean bursts out and yawns into the horizon.
The scene breaks so suddenly that it’s almost disorienting. Rugged islands rise up from the water in the distance. Their curving silhouettes swell out like massive boulders capped with jagged Sitka, Spruce, and Evergreen.
At first the beach seems littered with colossal white bones. But on closer inspection, you’ll find that these bones are only the calcified remains of immense trees struck down in savage winds and washed ashore. The sand is thick with them, large and small. Root networks still cling to the sun-bleached trunks.
Just when the eye adjusts to all this bone-like driftwood, you’ll notice bones of a different sort, empty exoskeletons from crabs picked clean. Their shells and detached legs scatter far and wide, a little wash of orange in the surf and sand.
La Push beach is gorgeous. No commercial restraints encumber this view. Low profile hotels dot the beach, but you won’t see grumpy parents asking for directions while kids scarf greasy fast food inside SUVs. That’s partly because the beaches in Washington aren’t as blue and warm and welcoming as those in California.
You won’t see families splashing in the water. The shelf doesn’t invite you gently out into the sea. This is a sailor’s beach. And this time of year, even boats are scarce. It’s just silent gray water unfolding forever. Tsunami warnings line the evacuation route.
And this is one of Washington’s more inviting beaches. Here, the coast snakes wide and sandy along a gentle tide. Unlike La Push, few beaches in Washington welcome more than rocks and birds.
The coasts here rarely invite the uninitiated. Beauty abounds, certainly, in the way that any expanse of untamed nature can be beautiful. But it’s also formidable, wild, and immense. You might imagine the water swallowing you up before you’d imagine swimming in it.
It’s the kind of ocean that birthed sea monsters in ancient myth. It isn’t blue. It isn’t warm. It doesn’t love you. You might see Andromeda tied and waiting beside the water. It makes you wonder what lies beneath that placid, reflective surface. And it’s easy to believe that whatever you find there might be hungry. Its cold. It’s dark. It’s dangerous. And in this place of cold tranquility, God is on their side.
But it is beautiful. And it’s worth the trek if you’re bold.