Out on the windswept, chilly coast of Washington’s Olympic National Park lies a place that is at once captivatingly beautiful and just a bit scary. On an altogether remote stretch of Pacific Ocean shoreline lies a haunted place said by the elders of the Quileute Tribe to be the graveyard were giants were laid to rest in ancient times, a place where huge tombstones and totems dot the ocean’s surface just offshore; a place of spirit, a place of grand spectacle, a place of ghosts.
To even get a glimpse of this realm, a person must hike through more than a mile of deep forest that is itself a place of brooding spirits. Stumps of titanic trees felled by pioneer loggers still stand as testimonial to the times when the quest for profit and the quick buck brought the majestic hemlocks, cedars and Douglas firs down by the thousands. Those times brought plagues of smallpox and measles to the natives and depopulated whole villages in the mid-1800s.
Since then, thanks to the imposition of the coastal strip of the Olympic National Park under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the land has begun to heal and the headlands along the shore sport tall stands of regrowing evergreen forest.
If you choose, as Shelley and I did, to hike not just to Third Beach where the sea stacks of the graveyard can be seen in the distance, but instead to go overland past a promontory that is impassible on its seaward side, you will come to a cove that looks directly out on the monolith-strewn bay. It’s a truly astonishing sight to see so many titanic towers of rock, washed at their bases by huge ocean rollers casting white foam high.
Sitting on a driftwood log on that remote beach, it was easy to get the creeping feeling that we were not as alone as we might think. Certainly, the beach was devoid of people. But spirits? It would have been imprudent to think that there were no echoes of ancient life in a place so dense with atmosphere, so dramatically endowed with signposts of something more, something as restless as the sea, something beyond common experience.
My motivation for the trip was to get some detail for describing several scenes in my upcoming novel, Dinosaur Wars: Blood On The Moon. I got that and more. The solitude, the grandeur, and the eeriness will stick with me for a long time. I’m still just a bit spooked.