Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bullards Beach

Bullards Beach, on a rare sunny day in March
Way too many years ago, I volunteered to lead a couple of hikes for the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club. I chose two hikes at random (Mule Mountain and the Sandstone Trail) simply because I'd never been on them. What seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be two very steep trails up to the top of a mountain and my friends accused me of attempted homicide by hike. After the hike I had fewer friends in the Friends and that was the very first time I heard the phrase "'s a Richard Hike". 

A bridge to nowhere does not a Richard Hike make

Nowadays, new hikers are warned by experienced club members that a Richard Hike is one that is uphill both ways or otherwise involves some another degree of difficulty. But Bullards Beach is flat and easy, the very antithesis of a Richard Hike, what could possibly go wrong?

We began our hike at the historic Coquille River Lighthouse. The lighthouse was originally built on a small island but when man decided to tame the Coquille by constricting it in a jetty, they also messed with the tidal currents. The result was the ocean backfilled the gap between island and land and to this day, large logs get routinely deposited near the lighthouse site.

The Coquille River Lighthouse

But enough history and implied criticism of man's propensity to tinker with the environment, we have a hike to do. March was so miserable, weather wise, it had only one nice day all month and this was the day. The sun was out under clear blue sky and the ocean and river sparkled like Tinkerbell casting a spell. We headed up the Coquille River without benefit of trail, following the muddy shoreline for a couple of miles.

A small creek trickles into the Coquille River
Eventually, we ran out of muddy shore to slog through, winding up at the paved Park Road at Bullards Beach State Park. Crossing the road, we grabbed the manicured, sometimes paved, and always more civilized trail through the park's campground. Most of the park was closed as March in Oregon is not the optimal camping season so we appropriated an unsused picnic table in Loop B and enjoyed a lunch in the sun.

Stop! Slow down!  It's like my wife came along
Then the "fun" began. The trail leaving the campground had yellow tape in front of it with a "trail closed" sign posted. All eyes looked to me for guidance, I shrugged my shoulders and walked around the barrier. Up and over the forested dune we go, then dropping into the grassy marshlands behind the beach foredunes. We then found out why the trail was closed:  there was several feet of water on it. 

News Flash: Hike leader killed by disgruntled hikers! 

A wave of dismay rippled through my school of fish, aqueous puns intended. There was more dithering about what to do than can be heard at a congressional committee in session. Clearly, some firm leadership was called for, so I just waded in. It was amusing to me, because I could immediately sense the shocked silence in back of me. I figured it would be a short wade but it was close to 3/4 of a mile before we found dry land again; I heard the customary pejorative muttering of "'s a Richard Hike".

Any residual hostility towards me was quickly dispelled by what amounted to a pleasant beach walk under the warm sun as we closed the loop by returning to the lighthouse. We scrambled over (some scrambled more easily than height-challenged others) the pile of logs at the jetty and enjoyed the jetty views of Bullards Beach and the Coquille River. Everyone enjoyed the hike, at least as far as I could tell, despite the fact that an easy hike became hard at one point.  But would we expect any less from a Richard Hike?

Me, behaving maturely on the north jetty

1 comment :

  1. The lighthouse is my new wallpaper. No complaints from the girls about not being invited on this hike.