Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cape Blanco

So, I've dropped 30 pounds recently and I am now one skinny and still one incredibly handsome dude. There are so many positive effects that come with being lighter but one big negative is that I feel the cold so much more than I used to. As I hiked in the rain and 45 degree temps at Cape Blanco, a brisk breeze whistled through the slats of my rib cage and all I could think of was "Hey, I want my insulating blubber back!"

Rain O Beautiful Rain

According to the weather forecast, the Oregon coast was under flood watch. Well, that just sounded like a dare so off I went to Cape Blanco State Park to see for myself. There, the Sixes River was predictably running wide, fast, and brown; the rising waters temporarily upgraded the Sixes to an eight-point-three. Water was swirling in the air, blown in by a brisk breeze sweeping off of the sea. The temperature was in the high 40's, although it felt colder due to the wind and rain chill.  In other words, a perfect day for hiking!

Boots got wet

The first part of the hike crossed the Sixes River's waterlogged flood plain. Large puddles, or maybe they were small ponds, covered the trail as overlapping ripples from the rain danced upon the surfaces. A hiking couple were finishing their hike and the male half said "...this sure beats watching TV!" Since I was just starting out, the idea of spending all day bundled up in a warm Snuggie watching Forensic Files from the recliner was not without some allure.

I just know the deer are in there, waiting
After splashing through the mud and small lakes on the trail, I opted to take the high road through the forest atop the coastal bluffs, eschewing the wet conditions on the beach. That turned out to be a good move for once inside the dense forest, the protection afforded by the trees kept the chilly wind at bay.

Once in the forest, it became all about the mushrooms, the heck with all that blustery awesome scenic coastline. Small white staghorn fungi were sprouting everywhere in peaceful coexistence with a veritable reef of coral fungus. There were also plenty of specimens of fungal cups, balls, parasols, and other assorted fungus thingies. My clothing became a muddy mess as I took plenty of photographs, lying prone on the trail like a skinny, yet incredibly handsome Sasquatch.

Stormy view from atop the cape
It was windy and cold at Cape Blanco, but at least the rain abated somewhat. There was a noticeable lack of tourists at the cape, due in large part to the less than optimal conditions. Their loss, though, and I took the goat path down to the beach just south of the cape. I don't think goats slip in the mud but I sure did and now my back side was just as muddy as my front side.

Hikers got wet
On the beach, the scene was quite moody and dramatic with dark clouds hovering over the ocean with occasional sun beams breaking through the cloud cover. Distant Humbug Mountain was faintly visible in the misty air to the south. Also visible was an incoming rainstorm that eventually caught up to me; it didn't last too long, thankfully. After a mile or so of beach walking, the Cape Blanco Campground road came into view and it was time to walk up to the top of the coastal bluffs again.

Hikers got dry
The route for this hike was a wiggly figure 8, seemingly colored onto the map with a fat crayon wielded by a 4 year old on a sugar high. The point of intersection between the two loops was Cape Blanco itself and on the return leg, I dropped down to the beach north of the cold and windy cape. However, the clouds were sort of clearing up and occasional sunlight warmed the spirits of this hiker, if not his body.

Gulls watch from across the Sixes
I followed the beach all the way to the mouth of the Sixes River where a pack of feral sea gulls eyed me balefully from the opposite shore. The river, as mentioned before, was at flood stage and the collision between river and ocean was pretty fierce. Enterprising beachgoers had built some wind shelters from the piles of driftwood littering the beach. I'm not sure how effective they were at keeping the wind out.

Fungal lollipop
A short backtrack down the beach provided an beach egress via the Castle Rock Beach Trail and then it was back to the grassy swamp lands next to the Sixes River. Just when the trailhead became visible, large bodies of water covered the trail. I shook my fist at the heavens and yelled "Why are you doing this to me?" and then splashed through. All in all, another great hike because dryness, warmth, sunlight, and insulating blubber are all so overrated anyway.

A small umbrella
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Wow 30 pounds!! Are you including the loss of your backpack????? Have you hit the 500 mile mark for the year? We hike this same area on our camping trip this summer.....beautiful area, regardless of the weather.

    1. Yeah, I decided I was getting to resemble a beached whale so I began the chore of taking off some of that insulating blubber. I feel so much stronger walking uphill now! I'm at 484 miles, only 16 miles to go...maybe this weekend I'll go over 500!