TJ Thorne and I ventured out to a remote section of the Olympic Peninsula to visit the legendary Shi Shi beach last May. Knowing that there would be no clouds there to meet us, we saw the potential for catching the setting moon during twilight, and I couldn’t have asked for better conditions to photograph this amazing natural formation. The sand levels on beaches are constantly changing, being washed out and brought back in from heavy surf, and on my previous visit to this beach the sand levels were so high that only the tallest tips of these ‘fins’ were visible. During this visit, the sand levels were MUCH lower than the previous time I was there, with no sand being present in the troughs between the fins. Aside from that, I was hoping the tide would be right for the water to fill in the spaces in between the fins, and it was perfect on this day as the water would fill in and settle perfectly still. There’s always luck involved with shooting landscape photography, and we had plenty of it on this night.
This was a tough afternoon/evening however. This section of Olympic National Park is situated in a Native American reserve with a little town that you pass through on the way to the trail head. They don’t like visitors, and I was reminded of that in a pretty unpleasant way that afternoon. I can get pretty impatient and anxious when I’m trying to get somewhere where time is of the essence. I had a feeling of uncertainty heading to this location knowing that it was a 7 mile out and back hike unless you camp on the beach, which we weren’t planning on. I just wanted to get there to be there at the right time. While driving out on one of the small roads to the trail head, I wasn’t paying attention and got a little… close to the car in front of me. I was oblivious to the guys frustration with my tailgating and after a bit he decided to brake check me. I JUST barely missed crashing into him. The guy then got out of his car, and the over 6 foot, probably 250+ pound local approached my window clearly ready for a beat down. I just tried to apologize, which he clearly wasn’t interested in, then calling his equally as large passenger buddy to get out and join him. It didn’t go much further than that as they returned to their car, I guess happy with getting a good scare out of me, and drove off. I spent the rest of the day/evening in PTSD mode, thinking about what might have happened if I HAD hit them, and also, extremely anxious about what my car was going to look like when I got back to it at the trailhead. These locals for sure knew I was there to go to Shi Shi… there’s nothing else around. I thought for sure they’d show up, slash some tires, bust some windows out, etc, etc. So for the next 5 hours, while trying to enjoy the beauty of Shi Shi, I was just silently freaking out inside. Getting back to the trailhead parking lot, and finding my car just as I left it was an extreme relief. I’ll consider the whole debacle a good lesson learned.
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