willing to be dazzled
… lead us out, …
The evening sun was not far from the horizon as I headed down the Montgomery-Duban Headlands trails at Sharpe Park, hoping to see the colors of the sunset from the edge of the water, and then go south to the top of Sares Head. Could I do both with the remaining daylight?
… guide us along, …
Sharpe Park has two hiking options: the northern trails lead down to the rocky shoreline; the southern trails lead up to an overlook 400 feet above the waters of Rosario Strait.
The northern portion is named after the family of two men and their daughter who breathed new life into the two-year fundraising efforts of Skagit County Parks and the San Juan Preservation Trust. After securing grants and donations, they all held a ribbon-cutting in 2004.
Rocky slopes with open forests here invite exploration. I stayed to the right, going counterclockwise on the trail system. Insects hummed, golden leaves crunched underfoot. Soon the trail dropped steeply down the bluff’s edge, going past glowing madrone trees growing out of mossy rocks. At the bottom, gentle waves lapped the rocky points and coves. Seagulls stood on floating kelp offshore. The Salish Sea was peaceful today.
But the sun was nearly gone.
… take us to special places, …
I climbed the very steep trail heading south to Sares Head. It levels off somewhat after getting above the bluff’s edge, giving peek-a-boo views through trees toward Rosario Strait. The sun continued to drop. I hurried and partly ran up the trail, getting to the top of Sares Head scant minutes before sunset.
A man sat on the bedrock of the bluff, stoic in his appearance, a large walking stick resting in his lap, his gaze steady to the west. I thought he looked familiar, but could not recall who he was.
A friend texted to say he was watching the sunset that evening from Camano and wished he could be at the Sares Head overlook to see it. I sent him a sunset picture and an affirmation that at least he was there in spirit.
A large group of kids and parents took turns taking photos of each other with the sunset behind them, while those not in the photo ran around whooping and hollering. One of the parents apologized for the children’s raucous behavior as they headed back down the trail after the sunset. “No worries,” I said, “I raised six kids.” They laughed and said this must have been quiet in comparison, as they had only five kids this evening. I laughed and agreed.
Then the headland grew quiet. The stoic and I were the only ones there. I absorbed the beauty of the evening, the smells, the gentleness of the water, the power and magnificence of the view. I said a word of thanks to the many individuals, groups and organizations that worked together to fund, create, and maintain this park through the years.
Kathleen Sharpe, one of the donors for the park’s south end, once expressed “It is my desire that for all time this property shall provide a respite for mankind's body and soul….” Her desire is being met.
… and lead us home.
Darkness descended. I turned to leave. As I passed the stoic sitting on the rocks, I mentioned that he looked familiar. We introduced ourselves and realized we were both involved in a trail project nearby. We exchanged phone numbers.
And now it was really getting dark.
I hiked out, pausing only to take one more picture of silhouetted trees in the fading light. Then I saw a woman heading up the trail toward the overlook. She was dressed in dark clothing but had a small bright white dog walking beside her. We exchanged “good evening” greetings as she headed uphill. I cautiously hiked my way back down the trail and back home.
(Total distance: about a two mile loop)
Directions: From the Deception Pass bridge, go north on Highway 20 and turn left on Rosario Road. Go about 1.7 miles until you find the Sharpe Park parking area on your left.
By Bus: There is no bus service to this area.
By Bike: Rosario Road has narrow shoulders and 40 mph speed limits. Please use caution, ride single file, and use lights and bright clothing.
Mobility: The early section of trail from the parking lot is fairly wide and fairly even with packed dirt. In a quarter mile the trail begins to have areas with roots, rocks, and some severe slopes in places.
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