The Never Ending Sunset

Sprinting through the forest trail covered in thick mud, mumbling curses under my breathe, and casting quick glances to the west, checking to see that the light hadn't disappeared. Time was running out. Finally, when the orange beam of sunset penetrated the thick trees and I was able to see the beach, I stopped and defeatedly whined, "You've gotta be kidding me..."

It was an exquisitely beautiful sunset framed by a picturesque beach and otherworldly rock formations, but the only way down to the shore was a sheer cliff with a rope to rappel. I threw all the camera gear into my bag to free my hands, tightly gripped the rope, and descended to the beach. After driving like a maniac through the winding shoreline roads of the Olympic Peninsula, sprinting through the trail, and rappelling down a cliff I had arrived... too late.

The sun was just barely peaking up above the horizon and within moments, disappeared from sight. Tired and defeated, I knew that this spot was too beautiful to leave without capturing at least one good shot. So I decided that I camp there and try again tomorrow. The only problem was that I had left all but my camera gear in the car miles away at the trail head and now that the sun had set, the trail back through dense forest was dark. No flashlight. Phone battery at 8%, oh dear...

Fast forward through 2 hours of fumbling through a pitch black forest, a night spent in an improvised camp, and another long hike back out to the beach with all my camping gear. Finally I found myself back at the beach where I had failed to capture my shot the night previously.

I set up camp, but with 8 hours until sunset, decided to go for a little stroll down the beach. I had seen other people camping farther down and the thought of someone going through my bag to steal my stuff lingered in my head. After what seemed like miles, I reached the end of the beach, discovered that it looked much nicer on the end from which I had started, and promptly turned around and headed back to my campsite. To my dismay, I found that someone HAD gone through and looted my bag while I was away. More specifically, someTHING! It hadn't taken my camera, wallet, or car keys. The only thing missing from my bag was my food. I looked up to see it strewn across the sand. Baby carrots haphazardly littered the shore, a cookie bag laid open and bare, trail mix decimated, and my poor avocados had been... pecked. Looking around, I realized that I wasn't alone. Ravens watched coyly as I gathered the remains of what had been their feast. I cursed them, much as the Cyclops had cursed Odysseus, as I picked up the remnants of the rations that were intended to last me 48 hours. Taking stock of my supplies, I realized the only food that I had left to last me through the day, night, and following afternoon were a package of sausages and half an avocado. Time to make a campfire I suppose.

All of the hiking, fighting through dark forests, lugging gear, and reduced rations were worth it. When the sun began to set and the offshore clouds slowly rolled in, I knew that I'd get another shot at capturing magic.

As I set up my shot, I heard a breathless voice heading down the path. A man scampered down the hill and ran out to the shore, quickly setting up his camera gear. It was like watching a mirror of myself from the night before. We took our pictures and then I invited him and his girlfriend over to share in the campfire. It felt good to know I wasn't crazy for running to this remote beach just for a chance to see an unforgettable sunset. Or at least, I was in the company of someone who matched my crazy.

In all honesty, even though it had been a great adventure, I got the shot, and made some new friends, I was slightly disappointed. Due to the fog, I wasn't able to watch the Perseid meteor shower that night. However, my proclivity for staying up late paid off as I was able to watch something that I had never previously experienced: a Moonset.

#photography #washington #mustsee #camping #olympicpeninsula #beach #sunset #shishibeach #moonset #roadtrip

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