Hikes: One Foot Dry

Dinner was finished. I had two hours before sundown. Kukutali called!

 Hikes: One Foot Dry - Kukutali

Dinner was finished. I had two hours before sundown. Kukutali called!

I parked in the half-full lot, put my parking permit on the dash, and hiked down the hill toward Kiket Island. My tide app said it would be an eleven-foot-high tide at 7:40. It was just after 7 now. I was about to find out what tidal height turns Kiket into an actual island.

When I arrived at the west end of the tombolo, the waters of Skagit Bay and Similk Bay were separated by a six-foot swath of dry sand. I was able to cross with dry feet.

Climbing up the island, I chose to cross the island westward on the North Trail through the old growth woods. High above, a steady breeze tossed the treetops; down here all was calm, still and sweet in the evening light. Starflowers graced the ground alongside the trail. Bunnies danced for cover as I approached, then emerged from cover when I passed. I heard three quick notes from a bird, like Morse Code for the letter O -- “dit-dit-dit” -- repeated every few seconds. This is the alternative call for the bird who is usually asking for three beers.

The trees thinned as I neared the west end, and then the trail dropped down to the old homestead site. I wandered the grassy field, took in the always-captivating view to the west, then headed to the beach, drawn to it like a beach bum. Here I found glorious sunshine, with pinkish popcorn clouds floating in the deep blue sky. Gentle waves lapped at driftwood on the beach. 

A very high tide indeed.

I walked toward Flagstaff Island (off-limits to protect its native fragile vegetation), then turned at its base toward the southern shoreline. An oyster catcher stood on an offshore rock, king of its island. I turned around here as there was no beach left to wander.

The logs between the south beach and north beach lie in a depression, protected from most storm surges. They looked a little dirty, with mud or something between some of them. I walked and hopped along logs that crossed this lowland. Halfway over, one log I stepped on sank under my weight into a foot of water, my foot going underwater with it! I then realized the logs and debris were all camouflaging a pond created by the high tide! I stepped onto a solid log and clambered to higher ground, with one very wet shoe. Walking along the gravel trail my footsteps sounded like ‘crunch, squish, crunch, squish.’

The sun was now dropping down to the ridge across the bay, so it was time to turn back.

As I walked up the South Trail, three young men came the other direction. We greeted each other, then one of them said “FYI, the tide’s rising back there.” I would soon find out how high. I already had one wet shoe anyway.

I dropped down to the east end of the island to see if Kiket was now really an island. Sometime in the past hour the water had breached the tombolo. Wet sand stretched across the isthmus. But now, with a falling tide, there was again a dry gravel pathway one foot wide to walk on. That’s all I needed to at least keep one foot dry.

But rather than cross, the sunset drew my attention. A large fir framed the sun, now at the ridge line. Golden waters reflected across the bay. Mt. Erie rose above, and driftwood anchored the scene below. I took a few pictures while the sun lingered, and I watched, entranced, as it finally disappeared.

My wife, and an apple turnover, waited for me back home, so I finally hoofed it back up the hill in the dusky light, my feet still going ‘crunch, squish, crunch, squish’ along the final stretch of trail.

Directions: From Sharpe's Corner east of Anacortes on Highway 20, go east two miles to Reservation Road. Turn right, and go 1.5 miles south to Snee-Oosh Road. Yes, that's its name! Take that 1.3 miles to the parking area.

By Bike: Reservation and Snee-Oosh roads are narrow and hilly but with minimal traffic.

Mobility: The main trail is wide and graveled, but beach between the road and the island is sandy, uneven, and covered with scattered logs. And make sure it's not covered with water!