January 12, 2016
Two Harbors to Parson’s Landing
Miles: 6.5 (more like 8)
We linger over breakfast at the lodge perched on the hill above the harbor. I pocket a tea bag, banana, hard boiled eggs for second breakfast, feeling quite please that we traded up our campsite for some luxury. Heading back through town we pick up keys for the locker at Parson’s landing, where, for an extra fee, water and firewood have been stashed for us. Hanie buys a can of cat food to feed the feral cats living under the restaurant. Despite the perfect blue sky, between Hanie’s sinus infection and rumor of more steep trail still slick from all the rain, we opt to take the road (we can loop back to town via the trail tomorrow, as you must return to Two Harbors to catch the ferry out). The dirt road is cut out of the hillsides a hundred feet or so above the shore. It is mostly flat, the slight ups and downs are hardly noticeable. Despite the clear coastal views and flat terrain, the alleged six and a half miles drag on and on. The road snakes around cove after cove, outlining countless folds in the shoreline. Each inlet on this side is home to a yacht club or summer camp. Little cabins and rows of colorful kayaks line the shores, some fancier than others. But each has row after row of floats for mooring boats that hint at the massive crowds that must flock here in warmer seasons.
But today we see no one. No humans at least. There is a massive bison right on the road passing through the scout camp. It looks as big as the tent cabin frames, and is definitely more solid.
Finally, beach is in view, a length of sandy shore stretched between rocky cliffs. I collect our wood and water without trouble (there’s no other fresh water here, so you have to pack your own or pay to have it delivered). The campsite site we’ve reserved, however, is already in the shade at 1:30pm in January. It’s a private cove, and would be the most desirable spot in summer months, but right now it is in danger of being cut off by the high tide. We park ourselves in the still sunny site 2 for the moment to nap and chill and look for beach treasures. There are rumors of semi-precious amethyst and opal along this shore, but my searches result in other kinds of gems: an animal skull, vertebrae and a massive green abalone shell. I keep one eye on the sea as occasional set of extra large waves come crashing in with the still-rising tide. As the sun starts to sink, I check out the other sites: all of three and parts of four and five clearly sit below the wet-dry border of the winter high tide line. Seaweed is liberally scattered disconcertingly high above the beach, picnic tables washed askew. We watch the waves crash high up the cliffs at the east end of the beach before electing to move our tent over to site 7 seems like highest ground [TAKE NOTE: winter hikers!]
As we wander the shore, our gear comes under attack from crows. One flies off with my ziplock bag of maps, depositing it halfway down the beach after concluding the paper printouts are not food after all. I run after the map bag, racing to catch it before it washes out to sea. Another, or maybe the same, smart culprit, has unzipped closed pack pockets and attacked Hanie’s roll of toilet paper. They seem to be going after anything in a ziplock, so I move the food to the security of the tent. In the meantime, another hiker has arrived. A solo-hiking dude on the island just for one night. As we agree to combine our (rather skimpy) bundles of firewood for an evening fire, the crows go after his food, taking off with an entire cliff bar, package and all. The three of us (minus the crow) eat dinner together, Hanie and I shooting each other amused looks as hiker-dude pulls items out of his pack over the course of the evening. Frying pan! Lanterns! Six raw chicken breasts! Glow sticks! A mostly full bottle of fireball whiskey! (which he offers to share and I add to my hot chocolate). Then there’s a heavy hatchet which he makes a manly production of using to chop large sticks pulled from the bushes. Having learned that he doesn’t go camping often, I graciously concede the manly duty of starting the communal campfire. He’s carted that hatchet all this way, after all. I watch him struggle for a while until it seems polite to step in. What can I say? My parents let me play with matches.
Hanie takes her cold to bed, and I stay up chatting by the fire a few more hours, watching a thin smile of moon and bright stars until wisps of cloud move in. Then I fall asleep in the tent as the ocean roars nearby, but hopefully not too close.