Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cape Blanco State Park

"Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost" as J.R.R. Tolkien stated in his poem.

However on our camping trip to Cape Blanco State Park, wandering and lost seemed to go together almost every time we hiked!

Our first adventure started well as we hiked from our campsite through the horse camp and onto the Coast Trail.  This trail took us through thickly wooded areas with a glimpse or two of the beautiful ocean.

View of North Beach from trail

View of North Beach looking back toward Cape Blanco

Eventually we came to a gate which directed us straight ahead to continue the Coast trail, but alas, there was no trail straight ahead!?  There was a trail (sort of) going right (uphill) and left (downhill).  We chose uphill first and ran into another fence, this one without a gate.  So it was downhill we went.  It didn't take long to run into the local residents of this trail, a good sized herd of sheep who were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them.  Since we had our dog Katie with us, the sheep were probably having flashbacks to their past "herding" days and began quickly moving down the trail ahead of us.

Part of the sheep herd making a run for it as we approach!
We eventually made it through the sheep (and their droppings) and continued our loop hike.  The next gate had a sign for the Castle Rock Trail which we took since it led to the beach.  With the river to our right, cliffs to our left and the ocean in front of us, we continued along and after passing through one last dune, came upon the North Shore beach of Cape Blanco.

North Beach and Cape Blanco in the distance.
We hiked along this long stretch of beach enjoying the sound of the ocean and the large pieces of driftwood on the shoreline.  Between the sun, wind and hiking in beach sand, we were pretty tired out when we arrived at the North Shore access trail and had to look UP to the  viewpoint we needed to hike to.

Some of the driftwood along the North Beach shoreline

Carol and Katie along North Beach

Sea Stack along North Beach 

Once we arrived at the viewpoint along the lighthouse road, we connected back with coast trail and hiked the trail through the dense thickets along the South Beach cliffs till we connected with a short trail back to the campground. Whew - for a two and a half hour hike, we were tired and proceeded to take an afternoon nap.  Yes, required naps are another benefit to hiking.

On the following day we took another hike that involved wandering and being lost.  We decided to hike a "horse" trail to the beach and then loop back around through the horse camp.  A 7 mile trek that didn't seem difficult on paper.  The fact that it was a horse trail should have raised some red flags.

The first part of the hike to the beach access was easy to follow and allowed for some great views of the South Beach coastline.

South Beach view from Horse trail

Another view of South Beach from Horse trail
What remains of the last person to attempt a hike of the Horse trail??

But once we connected to the trail back to the horse camp, the horse part of the trail took over.  You see horses are much taller than people, have 4 legs and their rider really doesn't care what they run into below the saddle.  We on the other hand were under six feet tall, had two legs and we do care about plants, bushes, mud and so forth on the ground. After an hour of bushwhacking and hiking this evidently seldom used trail, we turned around and backtracked to our starting point since where we were and what the map showed did not seem to match up.  Add to that the 30-40 mph winds whipping through the trees and all the branches along the trail from past winds storms and you get the picture of two hikers and a dog making a beeline back to the safety of the campground.  Time for another nap!!

So after those two adventures, our last hike was along the safe and well marked South Beach shoreline. Instead of hiking south along the beach, we hiked north back towards the end of the cape.  It was low tide, but not low enough to hike around the entire cape.

Hiking the road down to the South Beach

Sea Stack on South Beach

This hike was awesome as we got to see a large Sea Stack with nesting cormorants, tide pools with plenty of Sea Stars (starfish), and near the end of the cape we watched and heard a pair of Peregrine falcons, a first for both of us.

Sea Star in the tide pools

View of South Beach from inside one of many caverns

Cormorants on Sea Stack - can you see the young cormorants?
We enjoyed our 4-day stay at Cape Blanco State Park which is one of our favorite Oregon State Parks. Plus the temperature was in the 60's for our entire stay - sure beats the heat back in Medford.  Including all the hiking we did on this trip, we are now at 200 miles for the year.  Since our best yearly hiking miles is 226, we are excited that we have five months of hiking left in the year and have set our sights on the 300 mile mark.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol