Saturday, August 8, 2015

Umpqua Spit 8/2015

The only other time I backpacked to the end of Umpqua Spit, the weather, the clouds, the sky, and (most of all) the sunset were truly spectacular. Based on that wonderful weekend, Umpqua Spit became a recent selection for a casual two-day backpack. Memory can be selective and I neatly overlooked my first hike there with friend-cum-victim Lisa. On that ill-fated venture we had to contend with truly horrendous weather and running for our lives from a sudden sneaker wave. But since the weather was so fantastic the next time out, I'm now a wild-eyed hand-waving Umpqua Spit zealot. Actually, I'm sufficiently wild-eyed and hand waving enough without the Umpqua Spit-inspired zealotry, but I digress. At any rate, I sang enough praises about the spit that Lane and Kevin both decided to join me for a fine spittin' weekend at the Spit.  

Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
At first. the weather was reminiscent of my earlier (good) trip what with blue sky and puffy white clouds floating above the Oregon coast on a gorgeous day. Kevin brought along his dog Wish and Wish was only too happy to splash in the surf. For a while we were joined by a black dog who merrily frolicked with a kindred canine spirit before a distant call from his owner ended all that fun.

Tidal runoff
There wasn't a lot of water in Threemile Creek and boots barely got wet as we splashed across. It was low tide and the surf had retreated below some sand bars, trapping water behind the bars in large pools that a certain dog liked to splash around in. The pools drained in haphazard fashion and we had to wade across a fair number of runoffs. At the larger pools, we simply detoured around them.

There will be no birds on the beach, by canine edict
Gulls and flocks of sanderlings were parked on the sand and Wish made it his personal mission to make sure all the birds he could see were airborne and off what he deemed to be his own private beach. Us photographers had to take hurried pictures of the birds before the dog chased them away.

Where'd the sunny day go?
Roughly, it was about 6 miles to the jetty at the Umpqua River and the closer we drew to the jetty, the least amount of sun shone down upon us. A thick cloud cover was coming in and the temperature cooled down quite a bit. It was tending towards stormy when we arrived at the jetty and so much for the Umpqua Spit 'n shine.

Home, home on the spit
At the jetty, we left the beach and scrambled up to the top of a grassy dune and pitched our tents in the tall grass.  Lane was my immediate neighbor and Kevin was just beyond Lane's site. Even though Kevin was only about 25 yards away from me, his tent was completely invisible due to the tall grass on the dunes.

Rusted equipment on a rocky point
After setting up camp and eating dinner, we took a short hike up the river along the jetty . We explored a small and rocky point in the middle of Winchester Bay that looked like it had served some industrial purpose in the days of yore. There were rotting pilings and a corroded bin of some sort that contained rocks. The point was littered with rusty machine parts and equipment and one plastic toy shovel that probably did not originate from the days of yore. A nice view of the bay, the town of Winchester Bay, the Umpqua Lighthouse, and the sandy spit was appreciated by all of us, except for maybe Wish who just lived in the moment and didn't really care about all that stuff.

Morning, gray and wet
Unlike my first trip, there was no sunset as the heavy cloud cover took care of that. So we tucked in early as the fog rolled in. I had brought my two-man Kelty tent and it had been field tested in rain so I was pretty secure about keeping the wet air out. However, the field test had been several years ago as I was so reminded when a cold water drop plopped on my forehead. And that was my night: drip, drip, drip. I couldn't tell if it was condensation on the inside or fog leaking through the tent from the outside, my wet forehead could make no such distinction. Not the most comfortable night I've spent on a backpack trip!

Hiking into the void

Early in the morning, I crawled out of my soggy sleeping bag and entered a foggy world of gray, gray, and more gray. It was so thick, the ocean was not visible at all, although the sound of the waves could be heard. We struck camp quickly and began walking the six miles back to the car. It was foggy so we couldn't really see much although Wish still had no problem spotting birds to chase. After six perfunctory miles in the gray, we enjoyed a fine brunch at Don's Diner in Reedsport. Life is good when you have a full belly after a full weekend.

Umpqua Spit is Number 1!
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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