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A Valentine’s Hike Along Ebey’s Landing

We spent today on Whidbey Island. We had dropped Ford off with my brother so Kirk and I had a couple hours together. We decided to do the loop at Ebey’s Landing. I lived on Whidbey for a number of years (it is a very long island and due to having a bridge on one end you often get tourists who haven’t a clue they are on….an island) and Ebey was one of my favorite hikes. It would be hard to get tired of it. On a day like today with high clouds you couldn’t see any of the mountains – but everything else was alive and there.

Ebey’s Landing has significant history behind it and is part of the Ebey Reserve….a meshing of public and private lands that turned 30 years this past fall. It has helped the tiny community of Coupeville stay rural and true to its roots.

Whidbey Island sits on the Straight of Juan de Fuca, below the San Juan Islands but above Puget Sound. You are very close to Canada and can see Vancouver BC on clear days.

The hike starts at the low point – down on the beach and you head up to the lower bluff, then up, up and more up to the top of the bluff, in the Pratt Reserve (named for Mr. Pratt who held the land till he died not so many years ago). I realized today that it had been about 5 years since I had last hiked here – much too long to not come back. A bit different when I used to come after work – and work was about 2 miles away. On nice days I would take off walking right from work and go till exhausted.

Near the top of the bluff, looking back down. On a clear day you can see most of the North Cascades, including Mt. Baker in certain angles from here.

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Perego’s Lagoon sits below and comes into view not too long after reaching the top of the bluff (about 250 ft or so above sea level). Directly across the water is Port Townsend, a town that once could have been bigger than San Francisco during Victorian times. It is the gateway to the Olympic Mountains. On clear days, the peaks rise above the town. They are surreal large.

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Kirk walking ahead of me (we are heading Northish on the West side of the island – much of this area is called “West Beach” in general terms). The trail on the bluff runs up high, just below tree line. Having hiked this in severe wind storms, today’s perfectly calm weather was almost odd!

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Yes, that is an actual cactus. This part of the island sits in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, which are across the narrow channel that is the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Hence Coupeville gets little rain – just as Sequim across the water. They have similar weather. This trail also walks through some of the thickest wild roses around.

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Looking back as we headed down to the beach.

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Looking Northish – the beach of course continues on. The wooded “V” notch is where one can pop back up to trail. This isn’t a huge section of forest but in winter one needs to watch the tide. I played “time the waves” once years ago and that was not fun. At that notch starts Ft. Ebey State Park, which is where the Kettles Trail System is. One of my old favorite hikes was a long loop starting in town, through the Kettles, run the beach, then up the bluff, cut down another trail to the historical cemetery, then back to town. There are old blockhouses as well in the area. Alas, the blockhouses were there due to fighting with the native tribe so long ago – Ebey is named after a real man, one of the first settlers – who was killed by the them in retaliation for a chief that was killed.

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Looking at the lagoons as we reached the beach.

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Looking at my GPS on the beach. Yes, you can be negative 😀 We went down to -23 feet below sea level.

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Looking back at the bluff we came down. The switchbacks were not there years ago and I appreciated them. The old trail is still there – you can see it cutting straight across. It was never fun to go down – it is sand with no grip. The switchbacks were perfect to walk down.

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Kirk wanted to walk the beach back (you can also walk a trail back along the outside of the lagoon most of the way). Saw this cool rock on the walk.

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It was a nice walk and one that Kirk had not done before. I have always seen this hike as a world class hike due to what if offers – mts, beach, forest and the world below you. All you need is a sunny day with an artic cold wind….and a Bald Eagle floating next to you – then it is paradise.

~Sarah

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