Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tahkenitch Creek

Daweson wanted to hike 9 miles as did I, so naturally we wound up walking only about half that distance. Rain and mosquitoes do have a way of dampening an itch for hiking sometimes, weak puns intended.

Rain on Tahkenitch Creek
Since the hike was Daweson's idea, he got to pick the destination which was the rather vague "Oregon coast". That narrowed it down to about 380 miles of Oregon coast to choose from so we wound up on the Tahkenitch Creek Trail, simply because I had never been on it, amazingly enough. I've hiked all over the Tahkenitch Creek and Dunes area but until this day, had never found it necessary to set foot on the Tahkenitch Creek Trail.

At the trailhead parking lot, rain and mosquitoes were in plenty of abundance as boots were laced up. Rain on the coast is not all that surprising but I certainly didn't expect great hordes of winged insect succubi because the little bloodsuckers tend to be fairly mild and well-mannered at the coast. Not on this day though, and me without any repellent! Daweson and I quickly resorted to "analog" repellent: that is, we slapped at the mini-vampires all day long.

Dune savannah
Tahkenitch Creek, in its short journey from Tahkenitch Lake to the ocean, weaves its way through the dunes in a series of pronounced oxbow bends. The trail ambled next to the creek and provided nice overlooks of the snaky creek curves and one particularly large log jam. Once the trail broke out into an open savanna on the dunes, the rain picked up in intensity, providing a three-dimensional surround-sound hiss of raindrops landing on the sand, trees, and hiker heads.

Grandpa shows how it's done
A short side trail took dropped down to one of the oxbow bends in the creek and I showed Daweson how it's done by wading across the foot deep creek. With a toothy grin and an enthusiastic "cool!", Daweson followed suit. Hiking doesn't get any better than wading across creeks in the rain and my heart was gladdened to see Daweson demonstrate the proper attitude.

Stormy scene at the beach
A sandy footpath through the Oregon Dunes ended at the beach where beach grass bowed down in submission to a blustery wind. The basic plan was to hike south along the beach back to Tahkenitch Creek but a rather rambunctious high tide didn't really leave much beach to walk safely on. Additionally, a wall of black clouds was coming in from the south in a portent of bad weather to come. As we deliberated what to do, a large wave rolled in all the way to the foot of the foredunes, so we called "safety" and headed back the way we came instead of continuing on the beach.

Boys will be boys
So back to the dunes we go, beating through the bushes on occasion to overlook the wide creek wending its way to the sea under ominously dark clouds. The north side of Tahkenitch Creek is the Oregon Dunes Overlook hiking area and leg muscles complained about trudging in soft sand piled high above the creek. All that sand required some boy play and Daweson gleefully slid down to the creek. Next to the creek was a large patch of quick sand and he just had to sink his feet and lower extremities into the mire. He's a little unclear on the concept as they say, but on the other hand, he was having a blast.

Rain and Scotch Broom
For more mileage, we grabbed the Tahkenitch Creek Trail which wanders through the forest paralleling the creek. Amazingly, the hordes of mosquitoes were thick enough to rival those in the Cascades in early summer. Without repellent, a lot of time was spent ineffectually waving hands and slapping faces. The turnaround point was the intersection with the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail and the loop hike was closed by way of a sandy track through dunes covered with bright yellow Scotch Broom blooms.

Trail through the dunes
The dunes were dotted with plenty of tepid pools of standing black water that fully explained the current mosquitotude. The swampy water contained plenty of tadpoles swimming in panic at our arrival and in my opinion, they really need to eat more mosquito larva. The rain had been off and on all day but was mostly on by the time we reached the trailhead. We were cold, wet, and bit up; but hey that's what hot chocolate in a dry restaurant is for. We both decided it had been a grand hike and felt sorry for all those people staying dry indoors.

Vancouver ground cones
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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