A Home in Forks, WA

  • Thu Jan 16th, 2020 10:08am
  • Life

By Tom Groenewel

March 24, 1992, Sunday 5:30 AM

I wake as soon as there is some light in the sky. My back muscles and tendons are throwing a rebellion and are causing spasms preventing me from moving. I have to get out of the tent and walk to loosen up so I give a gentle twist and roll to my side. I take a deep breath and slide up on my knees, unzip the tent and crawl onto the ground just as I did last night in reverse. Slowly, I work my muscles into a limber and workable state and head down to the water. The tide is again receding and by 9:10 this morning there will be a minus tide of almost -1.0 which will give me an opportunity to collect clams.

I walk out to the point which is exposed from a low tide and connecting sand spits lead out to the rock spires. Gulls have gathered at the stream standing in the shallow depths drinking and flushing out their feathers. The sun is rising above the forests and casts first light on my back and within an hour I am basking in the morning warmth.

The first bluff behind the drift logs has been eroded at some time in recent years. It has exposed a two feet thick layer of clam shells that lie a few inches under the surface. The clamshells have been discarded long ago. Previous people, probably Quileute, found this to be a nice place, too. There is a great view and lookout both north and south. This is one of the few places to find a good camp on level ground and if the clams are plentiful here, a great feast.

The morning is busy with birds and other life. Gulls glide the coast and walk the water edge in search of food, crows in groups take turns pecking at dead stuff on the beach, ducks and seals bob on the waves out in the bay.

The tide is down to less than 2’, already the flat, rocky floor of the inner bay is covered by only a few inches of water, in another hour several acres of tide pools and flats will be exposed. Until then, I hop along rocks, keeping an eye out for a wave surge high enough to top my boots. It is not necessary to always dig clams, littleneck clams are typically not buried very deep and sometimes are found on the surface, possibly uncovered by wave action. With a sharp eye the living clams can be picked out from the old shells scattered around. Living clams have a cleaner shell free from algae and other growths and are usually lying horizontal or tipped down filtering food from the sand.

When I collect enough to eat, which is about 15 of the 2-3” littlenecks, I bring them to a small tide pool near the shore and set them on the rock bottom for a few hours so they will pump out any sand they may have collected in their digestive system, Tonight, I will dig a hole in the sand, build a small fire and lay a few perfect sticks over the coals and roast the clams ‘till they open and simmer a little. The saltwater broth inside and the wood smoke flavor is enough seasoning. They will be gathered and delicious.