The North Jetty

Looking at the North Jetty from Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

I headed out the maze of narrow, winding roads leading out of Cape Disappointment State Park, looking for the road back to the resort, and a sign caught my attention.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, seen above the North JettyI could visit the North Jetty? I tapped the brakes and quickly turned left onto Jetty Road. The road led into a park-like area, with civilized grass and rows of trimmed trees and picnic tables and a very nice restroom. Families were having picnics and kids were chasing each other, having fun. I drove past slowly out toward the jetty. Pavement quickly turned to gravel as the road headed out onto a spit; a long line of boulders sprang out of the ground to my left, towering ten feet or so above the roadway.

I maneuvered Big Red around potholes and found a place to park. I was really hoping I could just drive out here and look without having to get out of my truck, but no luck. The road was blocked off about two thirds of the way out, so I wasn’t able to drive to the end. My poor arthritic feet and ankles hurt too badly for me to walk that distance, but I really wanted to see the view from the jetty. Others had climbed to the top of the jetty next to the parking area.

Looking north from the jetty.Oh, well. My feet were killing me already. Climbing a giant stack of boulders the size of Volkswagen Beatles was not going to make them hurt any worse. Well, not much worse. It’s just pain. Nothing that Ibuprofen, pizza, and sleep won’t fix.

I slid out of Big Red and stretched my feet and ankles again. They didn’t limber up so much this time, but I hobbled over to the jetty, making my way around a very large pothole the size of a small pond. Climbing the boulders was going to be a bit of a challenge because of my knee issues.

I walked alongside the jetty for a few minutes, surveying the jumble, figuring out which way up might be the easiest for me. I found a spot that looked promising and started climbing. Fortunately, the boulders were tetrised in quite well and immoveable, so I didn’t have to worry about any shifting under me. I did have to backtrack a couple of times when I found myself faced with obstacles I couldn’t figure out how to climb or go around, but I figured it out and made my way to the top. Interestingly, I had worn my water shoes instead of my hiking boots, and climbing the boulders stretched the muscles in my feet and ankles, making them hurt less.Boulder holes

The wall of boulders was about ten or maybe 15 feet wide and fairly level before dropping into the ocean on the other side, similarly to the side I’d just climbed. This was the leeward side of the jetty, so the waves were not very big. I wondered how deep the water was at this point. Although we were right next to land on one side, I couldn’t see the bottom on this side. It could be fairly deep.

Some of the boulders had writing on them. I have no idea what the writing meant, but I’m sure it had something to do with the USACE, who built the jetty. Perhaps it indicated size or placement. Some also had holes drilled in them, like giant bowling balls.

I stayed at the top for a while, watching the sun sink lower in the sky, and then climbed back down. Climbing down was harder than climbing up, but I figured it out. At one point, I had to sit down on a boulder (hard to do when your knees don’t bend very well!) and slide down on my butt.

Big Red was still warm and toasty as I settled in for the drive back to Surfside, daydreaming about a nice, hot bubble bath and pizza. This was a busy day!