Cape Flattery And the Quiet of the World

The most north-western point of the US, hidden beyond always-green trees, Cafe Flattery is on Makah land. The water crashing against the cliffs there emits an aura of loving gentleness, even though it can also come raging against the coastline when there’s a storm out on the ocean. The air there is quiet and calm, with the Ocean breeze sining in the tall, ancient trees. It is one of the most beautiful and kind places I’ve ever met.

To get to Cape Flattery, you will drive through Neah Bay — where you’ll need to pick up a permit in the local Mini Mart or a gas station. When you get to a small parking lot, you’ll have about half a mile to a mile of walking left on a beautiful and fun path — winding through the thick trees and across wooden bridges and “step-stones.” This short and easy walk (don’t bring a bike) will bring you to the edge of the cliffs, where water rushes against the rocks and birds fly into the ocean to feed themselves.

It feels like that place collected all the quiet of the world. Not because it would be really quiet — you can hear the waves crashing below you, the wind playing in the trees, the birds flying into the eaves and around your head. But because the quiet there feels different. It feels ancient and sacred. It feels unbreakable. If you call out into the ocean or the forest, your voice becomes a part of that quiet — it is claimed by the trees and the water. The quiet is omnipresent and you become a part of that quiet. There is no other way to describe it.

The hills on the other side of the bay are in Canada.

When you’re standing there, surrounded by the water and the trees, you can’t help but feel the time passing around and through you. The trees, oh, the ancient trees… they were there long before you, and they will be there long after you are gone. They have this air of knowing about them, this feeling of some kind of ancient wisdom. They know — and they know that you know. And one day, they will be the only ones left that knew you.

Okay, back to Earth. Or maybe we should stop saying that. Maybe when we say “get back to Earth,” we’re only ripping ourselves farther from it.

Cape Flattery isn’t the only place on the Makah land that has this kind of feeling to it. The tiny beaches along the coast stir a similar sense of connection — one filled with life and joy like that of a child.

If Cape Flattery is an antient one filled with the wisdom of centuries, the beaches are children, still filled with the wisdom they are given at birth and can hold onto until they grow up.


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