Lighthouse Point

Of silence and salal

Midweek: A frenzy of phone calls, texts and emails meant obligations and deadlines were eating my lunch, which I had no time to eat. I needed a few hours of silence and solace, and I needed it bad.

It was time to get out of town.

An hour later, I parked the trusty Subaru at the nearly empty Bowman Bay parking lot at Deception Pass State Park, turned my phone off, shouldered my day pack and headed south down the beach toward Lighthouse Point.

From the parking lot, it’s an easy three-mile roundtrip hike to the point—meanders and diversions might add to this total. After a brief walk along the cobbled beach (breathe deeply!) I climbed over a small headland and dropped to a pocket beach, empty except for an informal caucus of sea birds. The trail crossed a small isthmus (low enough to drag a kayak across, I noticed) and climbed the headland that is home to Lighthouse Point.

At a fork, I went left (why not?) to where the winding path loops around the rocky promontory through constantly changing scenes of rainforest, sunny bee-buzzing meadows, stands of fleshy madrones,  jungles of salal and bonsai forests of artfully contorted trees at the water’s edge—art for art’s sake.

The sun danced with the clouds and the light changed constantly: now a shadow play beneath the breeze-ruffled trees, now golden and bronze above the sparkling Salish Sea.  Clusters of delicate and complicated yellow flowers brightened the cliffs and luxurious white lichen blanketed the rocks. If you slept here, your dreams would be amazing.

The hours passed and I stopped often to watch the drama of the sky and listen to the music of the waves, which on this day sounded remarkably like Chopin. My senses awakened: the salty perfume of the sea blended with the sweet scent of rainforest, the dusky sunshine on the exposed headlands carried the aroma of a California afternoon and the depths of the salal thickets smelled like birch bark canoes.

Dark witch-castle clouds enveloped both the North Cascades and the Olympics but here, the center of the blue sky held. I gave thanks for the rain shadow and took my time circumventing the point, retracing my steps a few times to have another look at a particularly graceful madrone or to ponder a pocket beach or off-shore cluster of rocks.

A group of oystercatchers took flight as one, wings slapping on the water. Butterflies drifted through the trees, like extras in a Disney movie. I reflected on how difficult it was to make myself step off the treadmill for a few hours, to leave phone messages ignored and emails unanswered. I leaned back against a rock, closed my eyes and listened to the stillness.

For more details on how to get to Deception Pass State Park, go to

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