Hikes: Strength from the Storm

Seaside photo featuring rock cairns.

Storms. They power into our lives with their force and fury, rattling our windows and walls, drumming on our roofs, and freezing our fingers and faces. We sit inside, thankful we are not outside getting drenched, blown, or frozen, or all the above at the same time.

Yet we face storms daily, putting on a smile while within us though we are cold and hurting, blown by the winds of circumstances, drenched by downpours, and frozen in finding a way forward.

In the past year Kath and I celebrated a honeymoon and our first anniversary; we enjoyed family adventures, travels to several states, and gardening on our lanai. And we had health issues, family issues, and financial issues. The year was packed full, and over so soon. Your stories and mileage will vary, but I bet they are similar. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, yet we must keep moving and doing. We come to the end of the day exhausted, scrambling to keep up. There’s good, there’s bad, there’s boredom and excitement. There is a storm of material circling in our heads and hearts.

And sometimes, yes sometimes, we can find a match for how we feel by stepping into another storm not of our own making, finding solace and comfort in knowing we are not alone. This is a shared experience with all of life – the old and the young, cedars and seagulls, salmon and salamanders, finding food to survive, moving to the rhythm of changing conditions, wet or dry, hot or cold, stormy or calm.

A storm was brewing this day, threatening. Southerly winds roared across Whidbey and Fidalgo. Rainclouds buried the Olympics and began billowing our way. We headed outdoors, to the northern shore of Whidbey.

We walked down the hill from the bridge, the wind howling through the treetops, the seas heaving and sighing as they passed. Branches danced and sometimes fell. Currents raced out the pass, eddies swept the other way. I immediately felt refreshed and renewed from the wild scene. The storm matched something inexpressible and gave affirmation to me as a human that I am not alone in this world as I contend with the unpredictability of everyday life.

With the tide high but falling, we chose to scramble along the trail above North Beach as we walked west, then hoped the waters would lower enough to walk the beach all the way back.

We passed giant firs standing above the seashore, their tops in the wind, but all was calm where we stood below. For a half mile, slippery roots and rocks, ups and downs and twists and turns kept us alert as we walked the trail above the beach to the amphitheater. Needing a restroom, we walked hastily into the full force of the wind down the nearly empty West Beach parking area to find one.

Walking back north along West Beach, large waves washed over the sand and cobbles. Rainclouds were closer now, the wind strong at our back. People passed by with their coats zipped high, hats down low.

We scrambled across West Point and onto North Beach, back out of the wind again. The tide still wasn’t low enough to get around the first low headlands, but easy trails let us climb around them. There were no footprints on the beach beyond these, so we made our own. The headlands in the middle were now above the tideline. We strolled down to Little North Beach to stand nearly beneath the bridge, and then ascended the trail back toward the parking area at the top of the bridge.

Pausing near the top, we looked back over North Beach, rain now coming down in buckets. Our spirits felt cleansed and renewed; we sang and harmonized together, embracing whatever the new year will bring.

Note: We found that we could walk the beach around the large headlands in the middle of North Beach at a tide of about 5 feet. The headlands between there and West Point would have to be at least a foot lower to get around them. But there are trails on both sides to get over them.


Directions: The North Beach road is closed, so park either at the bridge parking lot and walk down, or at West Beach inside the park. A valid parking permit is required at either location.

By bus: Island Transit stops at the park entrance near Cornet Bay Road.

By bike: Highway 20 has narrow shoulders, long hills, and heavy traffic.

Mobility: The North Beach trail is narrow and filled with roots, rocks, ups and downs, but was not muddy. The beach is a mixture of sand and cobble, with wide graveled trails from North Beach parking area available when North Beach road is open during the busy use season.

Republished with permission. View the original article at HikingClosetoHome Website.