Want to go camping at Shi Shi beach, but don't know how? Well, ask yourself this: "Do I have money?" If your answers is "Yes! Yes I do!" then you can go camping.
For a state-of-the-art experience, stop off at the monster Seattle REI on 22 Yale Ave. N. Get lost in the cedar forest planted outside the store, try out waterproof jackets and pants in a special rain booth, scale the climbing wall, and browse the beef jerky and energy bar selection. Once you take out a second mortgage on your home, the friendly staff is happy to sell you anything you need to camp in style. For those on a budget, REI also rents. Don't worry about the $100 fleeces-once you get back to town, you can wear your fleece everywhere! High fashion in Seattle consists of anything Polartec, jeans, and lugged-sole hiking boots. The citizens must wick moisture away from their bodies at an amazing rate.
Get plenty of trail food for your hike, because you'll want to eat all of it in the car. From Seattle, take the Bremerton or Edmonds-Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula. Drive to Port Angeles and stop at the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (3002 Mount Angles Road) to obtain backcountry camping permits ($5 registration plus $2/person for each night). While you're there, pick up a tide schedule and rent a bear-proof food canister ($3 donation). Canisters should contain all your food item and scented toiletries. Be sure to place it 50 to 100 feet from your camp and wedge it in so bears and raccoons can't bat it out to sea.
Rangers at the WIC will help you plan your trip to Shi Shi and alert you to unusual weather or changes in trail conditions. If you've got the time and the masochistic tendencies, consider the 13-mile coast-and-headland hike from Ozette. For all others, it's about a two-hour drive to Neah Bay and the shorter Shi Shi trail at the Makah Indian Nation reservation. Overnight visitors should park in one of several private Makah homes offering secure parking about a half mile from the trail ($10 for overnight parking). Day-trippers can park at the trailhead.
Although summers are generally warm and dry, be prepared for changeable, wet weather-pack a raincoat and extra clothes, and wear noncotton layers that will keep you warm even if wet. The trail can be very muddy-wear waterproof hiking boots. To impose minimum impact on the environment, camp only on the beach or in established campgrounds. Several freshwater streams flow down to the beach. The water is yellowish from wood tannins but safe to drink if filtered, treated with iodine tablets, or boiled for one minute.
For more information on Olympic National Park, see its website at nps.gov/olym.