Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cape Blanco 10/2013

The weather forecast called for 20% chance of showers which meant conversely there was an 80% chance of no showers. Nearly a sure thing for gamblers but the ones winning the bet last Saturday were those who placed their life savings on water falling from the sky. I was leading this hike in the Cape Blanco area for the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club so the odds were probably skewed somewhat by the Richard Hike factor.

Let's go the rain!
Fourteen friends braved the elements and the rain started to pitter-patter on hat brims and ponchos pretty much when we started hiking through the brown and green grasslands flanking the Sixes River estuary. A short walk on the Castle Rock Trail through the grasses hissing from either the rain or breeze took us up and over the beach foredune to a face to face encounter with the Castle Rock island just offshore.

Gloomy day in paradise
Once on the beach, we turned left and headed towards Cape Blanco looming at the end of the beach like the ramparts of a black castle wall. The lighthouse was affixed to the top like a tassel on a Shriner's fez, its light flashing every thirty seconds or so in the gloom. It was low tide, and we had plenty of room to walk on the rain-soaked sands below the cape. As an aside, long walks in the rain on the beach are not as romantic as touted. Some romances wind up feeling like a long walk in the rain on the beach, but that's another story.

View to the south
At the foot of the cape, the route took us on a brisk climb away from the cape as a large flock of seagulls took flight squawking in noisy annoyance, protesting our intrusion onto their beach. It's just not a hike unless it goes steeply uphill at some point and this walk officially became a hike on the brisk climb away from the shore. Sweeping vistas awaited us atop the cape, though, where even on a gloomy day the views can impress. To the north, a curving bay containing the mouth of the Sixes river arced to distant Blacklock Point. A similar scene unfolded to the south with the Port Orford Headlands and Humbug Mointain in the distance. And numerous rocks and islands dotted the steel-gray waters of the Pacific Ocean, sprinkled liberally like ground pepper on an oceanic salad.

Rapunzel lives here
A short walk up a rain-slicked road took us to the lighthouse where several of our group took the docent's tour to the top of the tower with its massive Fresnel lens shining its powerful beacon many miles over the seas. The rest of us just wandered aimlessly on the grassy grounds next to the historical building.

Needle Rock is not all that needlely
After hanging out at the Cape Blanco lighthouse for a bit, we dropped down a steep goat track to the beach next to Needle Rock where we sat on a log and ate lunch. Needle Rock didn't look so needlely up close. Last time I was in this area, the beach was covered with logs and tsunami debris but not so much this time. There was a large pole that was covered with odd little shellfish that resembled a flock of butterflies resting on the eighth day of an intercontinental migration. I'm no marine biologist but I wonder if these organisms are unwelcome travelers from the Japanese tsunami.

My call to Dial-a-Sun paid off
The weather abated as we ate lunch and we continued our beach walk while the clouds thinned out. By the time we climbed back up to the cape, blue sky and a weak sun provided a nice counterpoint to the rainy morning. All in all, a nice way to spend a Saturday.

How pictures get made
For more pictures of this hike, See the Flickr album.

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  1. I think it is the wrong flickr link

  2. Whoops! I posted the old Cape Blanco hike link. It's been corrected and thanks for letting me know!