It’s been a couple crazy weeks of news. My mind, heart, and hopes were reeling from the stories, the backward decisions, the murderous actions, the disunity of politics.
Then a friend shared this poem with me.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
- Wendell Berry
I don’t know about wood drakes, but I do know where there is still water, and the great heron feeds, and where the wild things are. And on days like this I like to go there, for re-creation, not for play but for peace. I needed to take a hike at Hoypus.
Cornet Bay, on the east side of Deception Pass State Park, has an industrial feeling as boats large and small power through its waters, launch and come back again, large trucks towing them around. The Cornet beach itself used to be industrial, with creosote beams walling off the shoreline from the uplands, deserting it of life. Ten years ago, the beach was restored, the creosote removed, and so life returned. Volunteers planted the shoreline; nature rebuilt the marine life.
On Independence Day we parked at the busy lot, walked out onto this new beach, then walked east to the wild seashore leading to Hoypus Point. The tide was low, turning to rise again. The engine noise and traffic jams faded away as we walked. We crunched on gravel large and small, strolling on sandy stretches and hurdling some beach-log hurdles.
Trees grow down to the water’s edge, and even into the tideline. One cedar bowed down from above, then rose again to lean out over the waters. A Swainson’s called from a large fir, then flew down into an ocean-spray plant blooming in full glory. We watched it test a song, then fly off again to a new perch.
A fly-fisherman tested the waters, using homemade flies. No luck so far, he said. He tied on a new fly as we passed, then resumed his fishing.
The Hoypus shoreline gives unending views of Deception Pass Bridge, seemingly close enough to touch, graceful in its arch over the islands.
We rounded the point. The beach became a bed of sand, then quickly changed to cobble. Skagit and Kiket islands came into view. An eagle cried its plaintive message. The deep woods stood as quiet sentinels. Small waves lapped their white noise.
Now Kath could see the wide concrete pillar just east of the point.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Before there was a bridge,” I shared, “the only way onto this end of Whidbey was by a ferry that went from here to Fidalgo. That was the dock’s foundation.”
We sat on a nearby bench, listening to explosions of fireworks from Fidalgo, with the quiet of Hoypus in contrast.
Eventually we took the trail back, a mile-long trek on the narrow, mostly-paved roadway. It is gated at Cornet Bay, providing a pathway free of cars. A middle-aged couple walked their dog, a young couple jogged past, and an older man cycled by. Song sparrows and flycatchers sang their stories. The bridge played peek-a-boo through the trees.
Hoypus is a place for those who want a peaceful mile to wander, wide and flat enough for kids on bikes, for someone in a wheelchair, for a friend recovering from cancer, or like me, just wanting to find peace in a world of craziness.
And for a time, I am free.
Note: A Discovery Pass is required to park at Cornet Bay. Be aware that on extremely busy boating days, such as July 1 and 2, the gate to Hoypus Point might be opened to allow additional parking.
Getting There: From Highway 20 just south of Deception Pass Bridge, at the light, go east on Cornet Bay Road about a mile and a half to the boat launch parking area. Walk east past the gate on the Hoypus Point Roadway, or take the beach if the tide is low.
By Bus: Island Transit Route 411 W stops near the Cornet Bay Road intersection northbound from Oak Harbor and southbound from March's Point Park and Ride. These bus stops are about 1 and 1/2 miles from the trailhead. Cornet Bay Road has no shoulder.
By Bike: Highway 20 is a busy, high speed road with mostly adequate shoulders on Whidbey, and mostly narrow shoulders on Fidalgo Island. Cornet Bay Road has little to no shoulder, but far less traffic.
Mobility: Hoypus Point Road is suitable for wheelchairs, walkers, bikes, reduced visibility, children, and just about anyone. It is mostly paved, and level for nearly a mile. The last quarter mile is not paved and is narrow but gently sloped.
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