ILWACO — With each crashing wave came a chorus of clicking cameras.
Photographers turned out in droves in anticipation of the biggest set of king tides this season, culminating with a 10.21 high tide around noon on Monday, Dec. 14, the highest of the year at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco.
As high tide approached on Monday morning, parking lots near Waikiki Beach were filled to capacity with more cars pouring into the park each minute.
“We’ve got a lot of folks out here today,” said Cape Disappointment Park Ranger Derek Thompson. “[The king tides] definitely bring out a lot of people.”
‘Better than fireworks’
Crowds had begun showing up on Sunday for the first day of the three-day king tide event, a natural spectacle photographers circle on the calendar months in advance.
“This is better than fireworks,” said Shane Rotchford, 50, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as he filmed the crashing waves with his cell phone.
“It’s amazing. I’ve never been around waves this big before and it’s impressive. We all got soaked.”
It was the first trip to Cape Disappointment State Park for Rotchford, who made the trip specifically from Idaho with family to witness the king tides. The family stayed in Long Beach and came to Ilwaco each day to watch the waves.
“We got here Friday night. The waves weren’t as big yesterday or the day before, so we got lucky today,” said Rotchford, who planned to head back to Idaho on Tuesday.
“It made the whole trip worth it. I think this is the most beautiful spot in the world. We’ll be back, probably every king tide.”
A busy summer and fall at Cape Disappointment State Park is showing few signs of slowing with the start of winter only a week away.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in visitor attendance that’s for sure,” Thompson said. “Normally this time of year we start to slow down quite a bit, but we haven’t seen that. It’s been a steady influx of visitors and campers. It’s definitely been a busy year. We weren’t really expecting it, but this being one the few places people can go and keep socially distant, so it’s been busy.”
The crowd that arrived for the king tides on Monday was somewhat of a surprise, especially for a weekday.
“We’re just out here making sure everyone is staying safe and keeping their distance from the water and the waves,” Thompson said.
“There have been some who have gotten a little wet. We had a conversation with them on the jetty and let them know what could happen. Sometimes they just like to push it.”
The final set of king tides this season will occur Jan. 11-13.