Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point in the Lower 48 contiguous United States. There are points farther north, there are points farther west, but there is no point farther north and west. The cape is most famous for its sea caves, arches, and tunnels, but it is also known for huge waves whenever there are cyclones or high swells. The cape marks the boundary between the Olympic coast to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the east, so it is exposed to rough conditions from many directions. I drove up on Friday to find good launching and landing points and to scout the cape on foot to assess conditions for the next morning. I decided to launch at Neah Bay, camp at Hobuck Beach, and paddle back to Neah Bay, thus rounding the cape twice, once in each direction. 00 Route map. Simply hug the coast all the way around. I thought this route would maximize my time in the sea caves at Cape Flattery, but in retrospect, I would have done better simply to set up camp at Hobuck Beach and launch day trips from there up to the cape and back. The stretch along the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Neah Bay and the cape is nice enough, but the distance from Neah Bay to the cape is eight miles, whereas from Hobuck it’s only five. Day-tripping out of Hobuck would also have spared me the long, unappealing detour around the jetty between Neah Bay and Waadah Island. 01 Scouting Cape Flattery on foot. There is an observatory at the tip of the cape. 02 Barred owl. This adult owl and a juvenile flew across the road in front of me while I was driving between the Cape Flattery trailhead and Hobuck Beach. 03 Point of the Arches seen from Hobuck Beach. This stretch of coast is one of the most popular for hiking. All of Cape Flattery, including Hobuck Beach and Neah Bay, is part of the Makah Indian Reservation. Camping is $25 per site per night, plus a $10 parking pass that is good for a year. Hobuck Beach and Neah Bay are the only parts of the reservation where camping is allowed, but day use is allowed everywhere else except Tatoosh Island. There are no designated campsites at Hobuck Beach. Instead, you park your car and set up your tent anywhere you find room. Unlike every other car-camping facility I’ve ever visited, the guests at Hobuck seemed to prefer camping inland rather than closer to the beach. This was happy news for me. I parked as close to the water as I could to minimize my carrying distance—and so that the surf would drown out the noise of my fellow campers. In the morning, an ebb tide helped pull me westwards down the strait, although I found currents to be quite weak regardless of tide. Right away, I began encountering seabirds: mostly rhinoceros auklets and marbled murrelets in the strait, mostly common murres and pelagic cormorants on the open coast, and pigeon guillemots everywhere. 04 Waadah Island, Neah Bay. The long jetty between this island and the mainland adds a couple miles to the paddling distance. 05 Marbeled murrelets. These beautiful little alcids were numerous in the Strait of Juan de Fuca but almost absent on the open coast. 06 Harlequin ducks. Every duck in this photo is a male. I'm sure they're wondering where all the females are. CONTINUED IN NEXT POST.