Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Sequim, Washington

The Dungeness NWR is one of the world’s longest natural sand spits, bordered by Dungeness Harbor to the south, Dungeness Bay to the east, and the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the north. Much of the spit is closed to the public as it is a national wildlife refuge for over 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals, and eight species of marine mammals. However there is a small portion of the spit along the Straight of Juan de Fuca that is open to the public, and herein lies 5.5 mile walk along the beach to the Dungeness Lighthouse.

We visited Sequim about a decade ago and didn’t have the time to do this walk/hike, so we did it this time.  It was a long walk, right along the calm Straight, yet rocky, so shoes were a must.  For about 2/3 of the walk the lighthouse is not in view, then as one turns a corner, the lighthouse appears in the horizon. There isn’t much to say about the walk – it’s long (took us just shy of 2 hours to get to the lighthouse and about 1 ¾ hours to return) and quite honestly, a bit monotonous.  It does need to be planned according to low tide, unless you are willing to scramble a bit (which could be fun).  We did not see a lot of wildlife, which would have been fun, nor a lot of boats, except for a couple huge cargo ships.

The lighthouse itself (which is still in use) is nice – not too large – and there is a free tour to those who made the trek (the previous week saw 375 visitors). There is also a large house for the lighthouse keepers – yes, the lighthouse is personned (manned) by volunteers who take weekly shifts and there’s a nice grassy picnic area to enjoy your lunch.

Seventy-seven steps to the top! (Yes, we counted.)

Have you ever thought of being a lighthouse keeper?  We can tell you how, tomorrow!

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