Access Denied- Again… Thanks, A-holes

News travels quickly; bad news travels quickly-er. Early yesterday, mini cell phone networks were buzzing/ringing/chiming with news that the trail leading to and providing legal access to an only-recently-reopened (officially, after over forty years of being, officially, off limits) spot that, on the rare occasion that a swell enters the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has, yes, waves; has been officially, closed down. Yes, the trail and the parking lot, complete with two sani-cans; closed.

Thanks.

The signs posted early said, “Site closed due to misuse, trespass and parking violations. No walk-in use allowed. Violators will be ticketed and towed.”

Yep.

No, it wasn’t you. Of course not. You didn’t camp in the parking area, or, if it was full (and, granted, the inadequately-sized lot was sometimes, on rumor and speculation, full before dawn), park on the street or blocking someone’s driveway; you didn’t go off the trail despite signs; you didn’t vandalize the outbuildings nearby, you didn’t bring dogs despite the signs; you didn’t build a fire or leave trash or crap in the weeds or in the driftwood. It wasn’t you.

You would certainly agree that whoever did ruin a doubtlessly good thing, not designed solely or even primarily for surfers, is, doubtlessly, an asshole. Or several assholes.

Speaking of which, the stated reason the access was denied around 1980 was that people had disrespected the area. Shit. Yep. On the beach.

It wasn’t me. I first surfed the beach in 1979, shortly after moving to the northwest. You had to drive perilously close to the front door of a person who was, one, almost always there, and two, not obviously fond of surfers. Still, early Port Angeles surfers had brokered a sort of truce and you could drive straight out, turn and go on a rough road over the riprap, to a spot with trees and, on rare occasion, waves.

Again, someone fucked that deal up; but, surfers being persistent, other ways in were developed; down a cliff, through a river and around a point. Eventually, a local resident offered access, less and less secret; and never popular with other locals. When he died, that access was gone.

Somewhere around noon on Thursday, heavy equipment was brought in, big blocks to keep vehicles out of the parking area. Done. Blocked. Barricaded.

Access denied.

Many fickle surf spots on the Olympic Peninsula have been shut off by private landowners controlling the access. Neah Bay is closed, as is La Push. Covid is, yes, part of it; but the folks who might otherwise be hanging out at Hobuck have been concentrating at other spots. Some of those parking areas are, despite general ignorance on the subject, on private property, kept available only through a longterm agreement.

They could be shut down. Access denied. No, it wouldn’t be your fault. You would never camp on someone else’s property without permission; leave trash, blah, blah, blee blah. Not you.

It’s Labor Day weekend; it’s going to be hot; the ferries and highways headed west are probably already getting packed. It’s currently 7:46 on Friday. Good luck.

2 thoughts on “Access Denied- Again… Thanks, A-holes

  1. Well summarized Erwin. Yep over the years its been a select few that have screwed it up for others when it came to surf spot access here in the late great State of Washington. Grenville was the first but as predicted not the last. I miss those days when only a handful surfed the Point. Everyone knew each other, hard not to when there where only a dozen surfers in WA (circa early 70’s). But how times have changed and circumstances (COVID). Not uncommon to hike a trail in a National Park here in the PNW during the week over-run with folks seeking what we all seek, recreation. Many folks taking advantage of our beaches and mountains are new to the outdoors (including those Sprinter Van hipsters) unfortunately the pilgrims are clueless to outdoor ethics and etiquette and without respect to tribal and private lands. The State’s population continues to grow at a rate of 100,000 people a year here in WA since 2010 with projections reaching 8 million people by the end of 2020. Unsustainable growth for a population base mostly in Puget Sound and the I-5 corridor. And along with that growth is the growth in outdoor recreation such as surfing. With only a true handful of surfing spots out there and most of which are tribal or private lands its not surprising that the resource, surf spots, are over exploited like the I-5 corridor. Yep, the closure of our recent surf spot is just one on a list of few destined for closure unless folks take responsibility for their actions. I’m not holding out hope.

    BTW, not all of the transgressions on tribal and private lands have been precipitated by surfers.

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