Weatherwax Trail

Hidden in plain sight in the small town of Ocean Shores

Located on the northwest side of Grays Harbor, Ocean Shores is a six-thousand-acre peninsula stretching six miles long and two miles wide. 

It is a mostly flat sandy land with an area where a true forest exists just in the middle of it all.  Roughly in the center of town is a 121-acre parcel known as the Weatherwax property, the Weatherwax nature preserve, or simply the Weatherwax.  

It contains a mixture of temperate coastal forest with old-growth trees, diverse forest vegetation, and habitat; 17 acres of rare mature forested wetlands; part of Duck Lake, and 1.2 miles of looping trails.

The story of the Weatherwax nature preserve started more than 65 years ago when Marian Weatherwax, born about 1909 to Anthony and May Rosmond Abel, became that parcel’s owner.   At that time most of the peninsula was a cattle ranch. Ralph Minard used the area as a cattle ranch from 1929 until he sold it to the Ocean Shores Investment Corporation in 1960 for a reported $1,000,000.  Marian refused to sell her land for the first 30 years after Ocean Shores started to become a community.  It was still 8 more years before the­ first formal discussion about sparing the Weatherwax property from development occurred at a meeting in the home of Lillian and Gordon Broadbent.  Mona and Gary Kohler, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, were also present along with Gene and Jane Swygard, and Ginny Thrupp.  Or so the story goes.

The following year, Mayor Pete Jordan worked out the city’s purchase of the property. For several years, the city looked at a variety of possible uses for the land, including a public park, golf course expansion, an aquarium, or housing.  Preservation vs. development became a political issue in the 2007 city council and mayoral elections. That year, the council voted to surplus part of the property on Duck Lake, with a developer hoping to put 27 houses on it along with a couple of fancy restaurants that people could boat up to. But the Citizens for Balanced Growth, a group started by the late John Clark, a retired marine biologist,­ led suit against the action. Soon after that, a pro-preservation council and mayor were voted in.  The following year, the council placed the issue on an advisory ballot; and that November, Ocean Shores citizens voted to retain all 120 acres.

The City of Ocean Shores will preserve, enhance, and operate the bank, referred to as the “Weatherwax Wetland and Habitat Bank,” and will permanently protect the bank site through a conservation easement. “After an advisory vote of the people, the City of Ocean Shores worked for several years to preserve and enhance these wetlands and the associated habitat,” said Mayor of Ocean Shores, Crystal Dingler. “We are very excited about achieving this goal through this collaborative effort with the Corps and Ecology.” 

There are numerous rules and regulations in terms of the use and maintenance of Weatherwax Wetland and Habitat Bank. The city of Ocean Shores is supposedly not allowed to advertise it as a recreation area and dogs must be leashed. If at any time the Trust who owns it doesn’t like what’s going on with it, they can close it to the public. It has been reported “that the community made quite a fuss at the time the bank was established, but the mayor was determined to give it away to make money. The debt was, at the time, quite high. To date, we have sold only a small portion of the mitigation credits.”

If you ever find yourself in Ocean Shores, WA, check out this 1.2-mile loop trail. Note: it is not really a “loop”.  It is generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 20 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day.

The signs aren’t clear as the trail also connects with the Power Line Trail. The markers should be better positioned. This little trail feels like a hidden world in the middle of town.  It is very easy, well-worn, and mostly flat. Just watch out for the roots. 

It is easy to be looking around at all the beauty and fall flat by tripping.  Also, beware of wildlife, including bears, cougars, raccoons, and deer.  Note:  It is illegal in Ocean Shores to feed the wild animals … “Keep the wildlife wild”. 

For some people, it just feels great and like “another world” away from the crowds.  There are a couple of lovely benches along the way and some nice look-outs over the water.  

The main trail dead-ends into Duck Lake.  From there we recommend turning around and going back the same way you came in. 

While Weatherwax is owned by the City of Ocean Shores and open to the public, the Coastal Interpretive Center holds a stewardship contract with the City to properly maintain the site. Since part of the Weatherwax area is an official wetland bank, there are specific state and federally mandated stewardship requirements.

Brief History of Ocean Shores

It’s first inhabitants were native tribes of the Washington Pacific Coast alongside tribes occupying neighboring Chehalis valley who used this area seasonally for food gathering, trading, and socializing. In May 1792, Captain Robert Gray, a Boston trader anchored his ship the Columbia in our harbor where the “lone tree,” a spruce, stood sentinel as a landmark for more than a century.

Lone Tree Vista Rock

Matthew McGee, the first non-native to permanently reside on the peninsula settled here around 1860 and was followed by A.O. Damon who settled near present day North Beach High School, in 1861.  Damon built a pier near the southern tip and later built another on the bay side, near Oyhut at the northern end of the peninsula. There, supplies and mail were delivered by boat from Hoquiam and delivered on land north to settlements including Taholah and Quinault.  The north jetty was constructed between 1903-1916 and rebuilt several times; 1941-1945, in the 1970’s and again in 2000. Although no remains exist, During WWII both the Coast Guard and Army had facilities on the southern end of the peninsula, near the Coastal Interpretive Center.

In 1961 construction of the Weatherly Inn, Ocean Shores first hotel, began and it still stands today, behind Sharky’s at the intersection of Chance A La Mer and Ocean Shores Blvd. The marina, a heyday highlight and original home of the famous shipwrecked boatel, SS Catala followed in 1963 as did an airport, shopping, and the PGA golf course. Eventually, in 1970, residents voted to incorporate Ocean Shores as a city; a decision was made official on November 18, 1970.  The Ocean Shores Library applied for and was granted by the Secretary of State – Washington State Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services a 1-year grant to orally record the early history of Ocean Shores.

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Secondary Story is about Granny Weatherwax (Not known in Ocean Shores)

Esmerelda “Esme” Weatherwax (also Granny Weatherwax or Mistress Weatherwax) is a fictional character from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. She is a witch and member of the Lancre coven. She is the self-appointed guardian of her small country and frequently defends it against supernatural powers. She is a very powerful witch and is reckoned to be more powerful than the most well-known witch, Black Aliss (real name: Aliss Demurrage), who is responsible for any number of witcheries in fairy tales, such as putting a castle to sleep and getting pushed into her own oven by naughty children. It does seem that her teacher’s teacher’s teacher’s teacher was Black Aliss. (“I learned my craft from Nanny Gripes, who learned it from Goody Heggety, who got it from Nanna Plumb, who was taught it by Black Aliss…” – Granny, in Lords and Ladies). From the triple nature of a coven (maiden, mother, and crone), it has been suggested that she embodies all three, although the crone is the most obvious. In any case, this appellation is tactfully avoided in her presence, with those commenting on the coven’s structure calling her “the other one”.

Granny Weatherwax’s prowess and reputation has led to her being recognized as the leader of the community of Witches in the Ramtops: “Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least with other witches, and they certainly don’t have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have.” In Wyrd Sisters, the ghost of the late Lancre King, Verence I, addressed Granny Weatherwax as “Doyenne of Witches” (“Senior Witch of Witches”). Granny Weatherwax’s reputation even extends beyond species barriers – the Trolls of the Ramtops call her “Aaoograha hoa” or “She Who Must Be Avoided”, the Dwarf call her “K’ez’rek d’b’duz” or “Go Around the Other Side of the Mountain, and the Nac Mac Feegle call her “The Hag O’ Hags” or “The High Witch”. Granny also has a reputation for trickery and pushiness among younger witches, although this is either short-lived or unmentioned for obvious reasons.

According to Witches Abroad, Esme Weatherwax was born the younger of two daughters. The books do not indicate whether her mother was a witch or not, but Granny mentions that her father was a hunter, who taught her that “a bad hunter chases, a good hunter waits”.  While Granny was practically still just a bairn, her teenaged, older sister, Lily, was getting into increasingly frequent rows with her parents over her behavior. As Granny reveals to Nanny Ogg, Lily was wanton, using magic for it and not just ordinary magic; she was willful, vain and prideful “always looking in mirrors… Prideful as a cat, she was. Prefer to look in a mirror than out of a window, she would”; and “young men’s fathers used to come round to complain”, culminating in Lily being kicked out of the household at the age of thirteen.

After Granny grew up, she was adamant about becoming a witch; as she reveals in Lords and Ladies, magic did not choose her, she chose it “I never stood in front of no-one… I camped on old Nanny Gripes’ garden until she promised to tell me everything she knew. Hah. That took her a week and I had the afternoons free… No I chose…”. Granny would go on to become a fully-fledged witch, and at some point took responsibility for her own steading, the Kingdom of Lancre as a whole. Granny Weatherwax, as she would later come to be known, also nursed her ailing mother until the time of her death (what became of her father has never been mentioned). While still a young woman, Granny was involved in a summer-long romance with then-aspiring wizard Mustrum Ridcully, but ultimately, they were both committed to their respective paths of witchcraft and wizardry.

Granny Weatherwax, if she can help it, wears a plain black dress, a somewhat battered black cloak, and a tall, pointed witch’s hat, skewered to her “iron-hard grey bun” hairstyle with multiple hatpins. As a young woman, her hair was long, blonde, and unkempt. She is thin, and, while not really that tall, has such a commanding presence that she seems tall. She gives her weight as 9 stone (130 lb). Many references are given to her striking blue eyes and penetrating gaze. In Equal Rites she is described as “handsome”, having an excellent complexion, no warts, and has all her teeth, although it is implied she finds this a bit inappropriate for a witch.

Granny Weatherwax has a near-unshakeable belief in her own abilities, which has proven near-accurate, and an extreme distrust of stories. She was intended by nature to be a “wicked witch” but, at an early age, realized she had to be “the good one” to balance her sister, Lily (Lilith). Ironically Lily, who became a fairy godmother, was convinced she was the good one, because she gave people what she thought they should want. Granny Weatherwax, however, gives people what they know they really need. Witches themselves seem hesitant to use “bad” or “good” as descriptors, especially when discussing very powerful witches.  Granny prefers to be respected, and if that is tinged with an element of fear, so be it. And except for those who know her well, such as Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, Agnes Nitt, and Tiffany Aching, people do respect and/or fear her rather than like her. However, very young children seem unintimidated by her because of a reputation that she will not intentionally harm them. People in Lancre know that she will always come when they need her and do her best for them, because that is Right (with a capital R).

Granny appreciates practicality and hard work over the bells and whistles of so-called “magick”. She intensely dislikes witches such as Letice Earwig, who dabble in chants, pendants, and crystals. She claimed she would have liked to have met Tiffany’s grandmother, Granny Aching, likely because she never claimed to be anything more than a shepherd despite commanding all the respect and power of a witch.

Granny Weatherwax feels little need for personal possessions and keeps most of them in a single wooden box. This box is known to contain a few keepsakes, including a bundle of letters (some, or all, of which are believed to be from a young Mustrum Ridcully) a chunk of lodestone from “the dancers” stone circle, a fossil ammonite and a phoenix feather in a glass bottle. However, the citizens of Lancre also believe it contains the secrets of the universe, a never-ending fortune in gold, or a small universe. Granny has done little to discourage these rumors. Aside from those in the box, her only other notable possessions are a clock that she inherited from her mother and a silver tea service (which was later melted down to make horseshoes for a Unicorn during the events of Lords and Ladies), complete with a cream jug in the shape of a humorous cow (which she had planned to leave to Magrat Garlick, per her will, in the event of her death).

The journal Gender Forum has posited that Granny Weatherwax bears some similarities to Sam Vimes and Death. All three are effectively ‘good’ characters, who exert a rigid control over the darkness inside themselves, which they secretly fear but (crucially to their characters) are able to conquer.

She has not known physical love as demonstrated by her ability to capture unicorns, traditionally only possible to virgins, and as she explicitly tells Nanny Ogg “There have, however, been romances” in her life.

Granny’s broom is famous for being old and temperamental. It is a hand-me-down “borrowed” from her colleague Hilta in Equal Rites. It has been repaired so often that none of the original broom remains, having had both the shaft and bristles repeatedly replaced and it often requires the user to pick up speed by running along the ground, making it the only broom that requires bump starting. It is, however, considerably faster than most brooms once it gets going.

In an apparent test to unearth her softer side, Tiffany Aching made her the reluctant custodian of a small white kitten, for which Granny has so far managed to show affection in a completely unaffectionate manner. In keeping with her personality, she christened it “You”, as in “Hey You, get off the shelves!” or “Come inside, You!” As a kitten, You was once discovered sleeping on Granny’s head, underneath her hat; Granny claimed it kept her head warm. Upon reaching adulthood, You relinquished Granny’s hat and was commonly found draped over Granny’s shoulders like a recumbent queen, adding an extra bit of power to Granny’s already-formidable presence. You is the only known cat, though not the only animal, on the Discworld to have intimidated Nanny Ogg’s battle-scarred tom Greebo, who hides in fear whenever You is in the same room; this suggests she may be compatible with Granny Weatherwax in temperament after all.

Despite her power, Granny Weatherwax rarely uses magic in any immediately recognizable form. Instead, she prefers to use headology, a sort of folk-psychology which can be summed up as “if people think you’re a witch, you might as well be one”. For instance, Granny could, if she wished, curse people. However, it is simpler for her to trick people into believing she has cursed them, then letting them assume her responsible for the next bit of bad luck that happens to befall them; given her reputation this tends to cause such people to flee the country entirely. Nanny Ogg has obliquely implied this avoidance of magic prevents Granny from being tempted into becoming a very successful “bad” witch.

Headology bears some similarities to psychology in that it requires the user to hold a deep-seated understanding of the workings of the human mind in order to be used successfully. However, headology tends to differ from psychology in that it usually involves approaching a problem from an entirely different angle.

It has been said that the difference between headology and psychiatry is that, were one to approach either with a belief that one was being chased by a monster, a psychiatrist will convince one that there are no monsters coming after one, whereas a headologist will hand you a large stick and a chair to stand on. The headology approach is also very similar to Susan Sto Helit’s practical approach to children’s problems; since the child already believes in Bogeymen, one may as well go along with it and teach them that they can also very firmly believe in the fireplace poker, too.

Because of her reluctance to openly use magic, other Discworld characters have, at various times, accused Granny Weatherwax of “working by trickery alone”, and of “having little or no real power” (an accusation she shares with Lu-Tze). Both statements are wholly inaccurate. Though preferring not to use magic, Granny Weatherwax has, on several occasions, been seen to display several ‘conventional’ forms of power in abundance; including psychokinesis and pyrokinesis, as well as a number of less conventional forms of power; including the ability to fade into the background of a room, to defer physical injury to a later point in time, and to make people believe they have been turned into animals such as frogs. The ability to do it for real is also in her repertoire but is also more tiring and less entertaining. During a duel with the Archchancellor of Unseen University in Equal Rites, Granny was shown to turn into a great number of different creatures. Regardless, Granny Weatherwax was shown to be a match for the Archchancellor. In Wyrd Sisters, she unleashed considerably explosive magic on a cart after losing her temper for nearly being run over by it and sent the entire nation of Lancre forward in time fifteen years so that the exiled heir to the throne would be of age to liberate the country from its henpecked usurper sooner rather than later, albeit with considerable effort and after much manipulation by Nanny Ogg. In The Sea and Little Fishes, Nanny Ogg claims that Esme has a rather moderate talent, but is an extremely hard worker.

She is also highly adept at ‘Borrowing’ – the art of overlaying her mind on the mind of another creature so that she can see through its eyes and steer its actions without it being aware of her presence – and can tune her mind to the point that she can sense the underlying mood of her surroundings including the mood of plants, animals and the earth; and the presence of ‘stories’ that are trying to play themselves out. She has even borrowed a beehive, considered the most difficult mind to borrow due to it being spread over many bodies, being the only witch ever to do so, and the mind of the Unseen University itself.  While her mind is out Borrowing, her body falls into a catatonic, almost deathlike trance; in order to prevent embarrassing accidents, she has taken to wearing a placard reading “I ATE’NT DEAD” when she does so.

She has even been known to be able to detect the memories of Granny Weatherwaxes living in alternative realities, but only at points in time when the walls between her world and other worlds are particularly thin.

Granny’s relationship with the written word is strained, bordering on combative. Equal Rites mentions that she views reading as similar to and as bad as necromancy: as most authors are dead, the point of both studies is to find the opinions of the dead, and “they have enough to worry about without that.” That opinion is not entirely unlike the views of the Chalk’s Nac Mac Feegles.

A fossil species of Mesozoic ginkgo has been named Ginkgoites weatherwaxiae in Granny Weatherwax’s honor.