Monday, January 6, 2014

Deception Pass

Deception Pass State Park

Possibly one of the loveliest places we have been to so far, Deception Pass was our hiking destination this week.   The park combines a forested area as well as a salt-water beach with spectacular views.  In mid winter it was cold, and we were bundled up in layers, the frost was still clinging to the wooden bridge and dusting some of the beach grass.  The dirt pathway was moist but not muddy, the sun was brilliantly bright, the sky blue with clouds here and there.  There are several different trails in the park to try.  We did two.  The first was a short hike to visit the site of the statue of the Indian Maiden at Rosario Point and to read the Samish/Salish/Swinomish legend behind it.   The statue was carved by Tracy Powell for the Samish people and erected at this site in 1983.  It appeared to be approximately 10 to 15 feet tall.

 Human side

Mermaid side

The wooden statue or story pole has two different sides.  The Indian Maiden (phonetically her name is Kwuh kwal uhl wut) appears as the human on one side and the “mermaid” on the reverse side.  There are story boards placed around the statue.  The legend tells of a beautiful young woman and her sister who went down to the water to gather shellfish.  The maiden dropped one of her catch in a pool of water and reached in to find it.  She was not successful and tried several times until she felt a hand catch hold her hers and hold it gently while a soft voice told her how lovely she was and how much he wished to look upon her.  She was entranced by the voice and tried in vain to see who it was that was holding her hand but could not. 

She came back several times in the days ahead and each time her hand was held and the voice talked with her.  Finally the voice asked her to join him in the pool where he and his family dwelt and where there was always plenty to eat.  She said she wanted to see him first, so he showed himself to her.  Then she asked him to come with her to visit her family to get permission to join him in the sea. 

Her family and friends were amazed at how handsome the young man was and how kind and gentle he seemed to be but her father was reluctant to part with his daughter especially when he did not know the young man or his family so he denied permission.  Whereupon the young man said that because he would not let his daughter come with him the bounties of the sea would no longer be made available to the village.  Then he departed and returned to the sea. 

As time went on the fish stopped coming, the tides fluctuated and the family suffered and starved because of this.  Finally the father relented and asked his daughter to return to the pool and agree to go with the young man.  She did as she was asked and returned home once again with the young man.  Her father attached a condition to the marriage that his daughter be required to return home to her family once a year.  The maid and the young man entered the sea and the maid returned once a year to visit her family. 

The tides returned to normal, the bounties of sea increased and the village prospered, the family became rich.  Each year when she returned she was more sad and seemed to long for the sea and her husband.  She became cold to the touch, her hair looked like seaweed; her skin began to acquire scales like a fish.  Finally her father could bear it no longer and told her that he could see how sad she was to leave her husband and her new home in the sea so he would no longer ask her to return each year.  She was never seen on land again although sometimes people say they can see her hair floating on the sea. 

I could not resist taking a photo of this sign at the beginning of the trail to the lookout point.  We did not get that close to the cliff edge but I could see why it was marked as hazardous once we got up there.

Just a short climb beyond the statue was this viewpoint.

At the top was the first benchmark of the outing.  It was just in the ground and would be easy to miss if one did not know it was there.

After returning to the car we drove to the second area, Bowman Bay, and began a slightly longer hike up to Lighthouse Point.

Directional signs to trails

The trail by the shore

There was a long hike up and over a hillside, along the beach and then up again to the viewpoints. 

Kayaks going out to sea

The trail goes through a forested area and drops down to the beach then ascends again.  As we went along the beach we saw several kayaks going out in the bay. 

The forest was mixed evergreens, madronas, and deciduous trees, lots of ferns and moss.

When we got to the viewpoint we could see the double bridge span crossing the water. 

The second benchmark of the day

The light was just right, the water perfectly calm, to cast this reflection in a bay.

The sun was just beginning to set when we returned to the car and started back home.  Here are a few more pictures from the day.

Sea grass

Red stemmed thickets and a reflection pond


A patch of moss

Some sedum growing on rocks

Skipping rocks

This would be considered an easy or very easy hike.  Altogether we went about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 miles with an approximate 200 to 300 feet of elevation gain.  The main parking lot, picnic area and restrooms at Rosario Point were closed for the winter but hikers could still access the trails. Bowman Bay is open all year with a large parking lot, boat ramp, picnic area and outhouse.  A nicer restroom with flush toilets is available on the other side of the bridge.  All these areas at Deception Pass State Park require a Discover Pass. We did see a Ranger checking for the pass and issuing tickets for cars not displaying one. 

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