Seems like I’m always being reminded of this small truism of life; you never really know a place despite the number of visits and there’s surprises for you if you look close enough. This time I learned the lesson not over a season, or a couple of years, but over the course of a couple of hours and while on the same trail. It wasn’t until our return hike that we found the Devils Punch Bowl.
Devils Punch Bowl
With Theresa off visiting the kids, I decided to take a extended weekend and invite a couple of buddies to join me. After a bit of discussion we decide to head to Salt Creek County Park. This is part of the Callalum County Park system and one of my personal favorites.
Years ago Jason and I had paddled Lake Crescent to do a short film on the The Lady of Crescent Lake. It was a cold and blustery day when we paddled but we did see a couple walking what appeared to be a trail on the north side. A little searching on the Google and I found this was the Spruce Rail Trail; the same featured in my early short.
Matt would be joining first with Brad following up later that weekend. I work with Matt every day but he’s also a very talented photographer who is always willing to share his talent whenever we get outdoors with camera in hand. See Capturing the Milky Way over Mount St. Helens. He and I decided that we’d spent the first day exploring the trail as far as the short day and legs would last.
It was spectacular day for hiking; sunny and cold. Hard part wasn’t finding what was worth a photograph but rather what not to shot! Eventually we decided to head back. On the way out we had passed a tunnel which of course caught our eye for it’s potential for some bracketed shooting. Matt fired off some shots early and I elected to wait later just to see if the lighting changed in the afternoon.
We had passed a few other parties on the trail. While I was setting up my tunnel shot, Matt chatted with a few hikers that somehow we passed heading back although we never saw them on the trail after our lunch break. Turns out there was a little detour around the tunnel they suggested we go a take a look at.
Turns out this was the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Apparently it’s nearly a 100’ deep and during the warmer months a favorite site for swimmers. I can’t imagine jumping into it’s cold waters no matter how warm the day but what’s for certain is it’s scenic beauty. Well worth the detour.
The official website for Salt Creek claims the park ‘has national park aesthetics’ and I certainly wouldn’t disagree! This 196 acre park has a little bit of everything; upland forests, rocky bluffs, rocky tide pools, sand beach, Salt Creek access, campsites, and panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Crescent Bay, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Walk out on Tongue Point and you’ll see Crescent Bay. With a bit of imagination you can see the old town of Port Crescent and it’s deep water harbor. Like so many other communities in Washington which placed their hopes on the railroads selecting them for the terminus, this rustic bay was a boom then bust dream. Planned and laid out in 1892, the town had two saloons, the Markham House, a modern hotel at the time, the Port Crescent Hotel, stores and all the amenities of a frontier town.
Without the railroad, the town slowly was abandoned. The end was realized when a careless beachcomber left an unattended log fire on Crescent beach, which spread into the oil soaked ground of an old oil house, ate its way along the boardwalk to the hotel and torched that structure which spread to the remaining buildings.
All that’s left is the historic cemetery which sits in the middle of the bay.