Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bandon Beach to New River

Well, this hike got certainly got off to a mysterious start! From the parking lot at Face Rock Viewpoint, we had a nice overlook of the beach below. The sand was adorned with an elaborate crop circle labyrinth and people with long beards (some of whom were men) talked about Ley lines and sacred places. Most onlookers simply admired the artwork and walked the maze. I didn't because I always get lost in those things.

It's hard to get lost hiking from Bandon Beach to the New River, though: just keep the ocean on the right and Oregon on the left until a large river blocks the way. Leaving the tie-dye crowd behind at the labyrinth, we headed south past the rocks and islands that make Bandon Beach such a spectacularly scenic place. After splashing across Johnson Creek, Haystack Rock loomed ahead in the misty haze and we pretty much had the Oregon coast all to ourselves at that point.

Not happy!
Speaking of splashing across creeks, Wish and Daisy (our two dog companions) were having the time of their lives and we should all cross creeks as happy as a dog. We wound up wading across creeks 6 times on this hike as we had to cross Johnson, Crooked, and China Creeks two times each. I don't think the 7 of us in our group enjoyed the wading nearly as much as the dogs did.

Sneaker wave just snuck up on us
And now, let us talk about sneaker waves. Sneaker waves are sneaky, alright. They look like normal waves but the difference between a sneaker wave and a regular wave is that a sneaker wave simply keeps on coming. So there we were, walking around a large rock with at least 50 yards of beach to work with when a wave just kept rolling in, and rather quickly too. So we ran to the rock but alas, there was nothing to stand upon. Pinned to the rock wall, we had the endure the indignity of standing knee deep in salty water, although the dogs thought the whole episode more fun than a yard full of cats. Later on in the hike, another wave chased us up the beach where we had to frantically hop on logs to avoid the onrushing water.

The New River
Once we left prominent Haystack Rock behind, it was basically a couple miles of sandy beach walking until we arrived at the mouth of the New River. I had backpacked here last summer and the New River was then all dried up, never quite making it to the ocean. However, on this late winter day it was flowing fast and wide due to all the recent rain. There was one lone hiker on the dunes overlooking the river and it turned out to be our friend Don from the South Coast Striders hiking club.

Not a lot of beach to walk on
We ate lunch next to the New River while some of us did a brief barefoot exploration of Twomile Creek. The return track to Bandon was then all about the high tide and we performed many a sprint to higher ground as the sneaker waves were less sneaky and as brazen as a pack of wild monkeys. We basically had only the driftwood-littered top ten yards of beach to hike in.

Why Bandon Beach is totally awesome
As we neared the rock islands at Bandon Beach, I opted to go around the front of a large rock while everybody else went around the back. It was the same rock involved with the sneaker wave on the way in and you'd think I would learn. I watched the waves and when they retreated, I sprinted around the front, timing my mad dash perfectly. The problem was that I was looking over my shoulder at the waves and did not notice the 6-foot deep puddle in front of me until I plunged waist deep into the cold water. Panicked, because the surf was now coming in, I charged through only to find a subsequent second swimming pool in the beach. Totally soaked from the waist down, I rejoined up with Kevin, who thought the whole episode to be hysterically funny.

High tide was the story on the return leg
By the time we arrived at the trail off the beach, the waves had erased the elaborate labyrinth we had so enjoyed at the start of the hike. It only goes to show that beach art will always be transient and ephemeral in nature. As we prepared to begin the long ride home, Rachel (who resides in nearby Coos Bay) taunted us with "I'll be home in half an hour" To which (retired) Lindsay replied "Yes, but what will you be doing Monday?" Game, set, and match to Lindsay!

Bandon Beach
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Well we will make a note to never make a mad dash with you when hiking. You just have a knack for going waist deep in water it seems. We saw an Oregon Field Guide episode recently that featured the guy who makes those designs on the beach in Bandon. Hope to see one in person some day.