We finally got around to revisiting Toleak Point, but this time with my painting gear. We’d been there 6 years earlier, but all I had was my camera and I’d regretted not bringing paints. Photos from our previous hike 6 years ago.
When we arrived at the trailhead Saturday night there was no possibility of parking. Cars were parked in every square inch of the lot. Cars were double and triple parked behind other cars, blocking the early arrivals in place. We’d planned to sleep at the trailhead and hike out in the morning. Instead we drove a couple miles West and slept in a pullout. I was glad to have the pickup bed to sleep in. In the morning there was a couple bad parking spots open and we were able to jockey our way into a very tight parallel parking slot.
Toleak is getting far too popular. Do not go on the weekend. We talked to a guy who arrived Friday at noon and only two spots were open even that early in the weekend. It’s weird because the place isn’t really that pretty. I mean it’s very nice, but Shi Shi and Rialto or Ruby are just as pretty. Maybe it’s the remoteness that draws the crowd. When we hiked out on Tuesday there were 40 open spots…if you don’t mind double parking along the road, with cars backing out toward you broadside.
Weather was perfect Sunday as we hiked South but I arrived too tired to paint. Hiking 7 miles with a heavy pack is not something we do regularly. We woke up to fog but I could see this 100 foot high tower capped by a nesting bald eagle so that was what got painted.
We took a siesta, dipping into our meager food supplies, and then I walked South, hoping the fog over the main rocks would lift. It didn’t, so I painted this little twenty foot tall tower right at the tip of Toleak Point. After dinner I tried to paint the Giants Graveyard 4 miles distant but that proved to be too difficult and I erased it. It would have been my third painting of the day anyway.
My homemade backpack isn’t happy carrying 50 pounds, though really 50 pounds won’t feel good with any backpack. I felt like a mule with a Grand Canyon tourist on my back. I had skipped the sleeping bag to save weight. I slept in my thin puffy ($40 on sale at Big 5) and my Feathered friends down vest. I also had on thin nylon pants over long johns.
The first night I put my legs in my backpack for warmth. That was not warm enough and it wasn’t a great night sleep. The second night (Monday) I opened up the 3 ounce space blanket I’ve been carrying around for a decade and it was amazing. I felt as warm as if I’d been sleeping in a summer weight bag. I have to bring the two puffies anyway for standing around and painting in the ocean breezes, so it was awesome to sleep warm with just the mylar space blanket.
Bivying without proper sleeping gear is something I’ve been doing since my alpine climbing days. Mountain climbers have the same problem painters have: the gear is so heavy you have to cut corners on the normal gear that keeps backpackers comfortable.
Things I could leave behind:
- All of my colors except Transparent Oxide Brown and Red (TOB & TOR).
- 12 x 16 boards. I worked on 9 x 12’s, which seemed big enough
- Large brushes…work on small boards, need small brushes
- Grizzly bear spray…didn’t see anything larger than a bald eagle
- Two headlamps, one light per party would be enough
- extra water bottle…plenty of streams
Things we should have brought:
- More food! We were hungry all the time. An extra dehydrated dinner would have been awesome
- Windscreen for MSR stove, slower cooking time wasn’t worth the savings in weight
- Bigger bear box for more food…and or add in the white bear proof bag
- Trail mix-granola. It would be lighter than the packaging for all the expensive energy bars we brought.
- Shoulder strap spreader pads…or I need to sew better pack straps
The hiking books advise you to stop at the ranger station in Port Angeles to get permits. We were shocked to read that it’s $8 per person per night to camp out there. What they don’t tell you is that you can also pick up a permit at the trailhead, fill it out, and mail it in with your check. And as it happened, we saw no rangers Sunday through Tuesday checking peoples tents or backpacks for permits.
It’s sad that our parks have to charge so much for simply allowing us to enjoy the beauty. I know they have to maintain the trails, signs, ropes outhouses and parking lots, and that’s expensive. But for cash strapped people trying to have some cheap fun by walking the coast…it’s a shock. A party of two pays $16 a night…for backpacking!
Here is the pit toilet at Toleak…not a lot of money went into this 4 star facility: