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rialto beach


rialto beach

Scott Bahlmann

Dear M,

Since we started dating three years ago, my husband and I have unintentionally had an annual camping trip in the fall. This year we didn’t think it was going to happen, so soaked up as much nature as we could on our day trip a few weeks ago. Having recently decided to try car-less living, and with my days off going toward the big trip in September, we were pretty well resigned which made the offer by my husbands co-worker to join a weekend jaunt all the more tempting. I managed to swap a shift with one of my co-workers to allow a weekend away.

The details were still being worked out, and I decided I wanted the destination to stay a secret. The day before we left I sat with my husband as he chose his clothing options, and decided I probably ought to make some adjustments when I saw him include swim trunks and a beach towel. Still, when we parked at Rialto Beach and shouldered our packs I expected we would walk along to a trail and head into the dense forest for our final destination. When our ‘guide’ said suddenly ‘We can set up anywhere we like now, but I think a little further down is nicer.” I had a sort of double take. This is where we would be spending the night?

We continued on just a bit further then chose a clear area tucked behind some giant driftwood, overlooking a striking stack (which I learned is the name for the outcroppings of land in the water, like the toes of the coast dipping into the surf). After the slight challenge of getting tent stakes to work in sand (set large stones on them!) we were ready to go exploring!


Split Rock was just down from us and had mostly soft clean sand with a few scattered boulders worn smooth by the surf. This is where we spent the majority of the afternoon, and in the evening after the tide had receded we went a bit further to explore the primordial playground of Hole in the Wall.



I wasn’t quite prepared for so much sun, the forest trails I had expected us to be on are very shaded, but I had a fantastic day in spite of mild heat stroke. I did turn in early, peeking out occasionally as stars began to pepper the dusky sky.


There was no moon, and when my husband woke me to look at the stars it was truly astounding, as though gravity had been suspended and the beach we’d been playing on was slowly floating off into the vast depths of the night. Such dense clustering of stars I cannot remember having ever seen before.

The next morning was just as magical. I hadn’t stayed up as late as the other travelers, and woke quite early. The sky was a rosy glow, though the sun hadn’t yet crested the mountain flanking us. I went down the the water, looking at the clusters of shells on newly exposed rocks, trying to avoid the plethora of sand stranded jellies we’d grown accustomed to the evening before. I intended to let the others sleep as late as they liked, but as my husband had roused me for the stars, I woke him to see the sea otter with her two pups who was breakfasting on the shore. 

We played around for a fair amount of time, like children again (which isn’t all that uncommon for us) and were happy that our co-camper was able to see the bald eagle perch on a stack before spotting some temptation in the water that he soared out to snag ...not too different from us after all.

We decided to head out early so that we could visit the Hoh Rainforest (so mossy!) and stopped for lunch in Forks (mini fangirl!). The trip really was a most fantastic experience, and it seems that this is the course my husband and I have set. Constant amazement, wonder and appreciation. I can only imagine what Thailand will be like next month.