Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cape Blanco 1/2018

Several weeks prior to this hike, Lane and I had hiked at Cape Blanco on the Best Day Ever. Nothing could top the magic of that December day, but Round 2 sure came close. The only reason this January day came up shorter than that December hike, was a slight misty haze at beach level. But that's just me nitpicking, for this day was bright, sunny, and cool enough to qualify as a perfect hike when not compared to the Best Day Ever.

The queen and her human
I had gone hiking at Cape Blanco with Lane on that December day because he was going to lead a Friends of the Umpqua hike there, but had never been. So our venture to the cape was to familiarize him with the route and thereby impart some degree of competency to his leadership. But on this January day, I went again because there was like about 40 hikers that showed up and Lane needed moral support if not some out and out assistant co-leading. I'd like to think the multitudes showed up because they were inspired by my brilliantly written blog, but that little theory is quickly disproved by the average head count of 3 attendees per Richard Hike.

Nature's track lighting
Anyway, the thundering hordes set out on the Oregon Coast Trail which cut across the grassy pastures flanking the Sixes River. Lane hung back and I walked somewhere in the middle, to direct hikers at the numerous trail junctions between the Sixes and Cape Blanco itself. Because of a high tide, we saved the beach walk for the end of the hike, heading instead through the dark woods overlooking the beach below. Very little sunlight penetrates the thick forest on top of the coastal bluffs, making this stretch of trail one of the darkest places found on this planet. However, on a sunny morn, sunbeam spotlights illuminate the trail here and there.

View to Cape Blanco, as we left the forest
The walk through the dark forest was broken up by several side trips to intermittent overlooks of the Oregon Coast. After a mile or so of this, the path broke out onto the grassy cape itself and our eyes watered in the sudden exposure to bright sunlight. The day was glorious and we basked in the sun as we enjoyed lunch next to the historic lighthouse atop the cape. Lunch and basking is always more enjoyable with a view and to the north, an epic vista to the Sixes River and Blacklock Point, with all manner of islands dotting a bay of blue water, entertained lunching baskers (or is it basking lunchers?). To the south, a long beach arced towards Port Orford with Needle Rock being a prominent feature below the cape. A thin layer of mist clouded up the beach while it was nothing but blue skies atop the cape. Life was definitely good!

From Cape Blanco all the way to Humbug Mountain

After a lazy lunch, our rather large group straggled out back onto the trail which entered another thick coastal forest after an easy ramble along and atop the windblown bluffs. Once we went past the campground, a short road walk dropped us down to beach level about a mile south of Cape Blanco. To the south rose the forested mound of Humbug Mountain with the rest of the coast disappearing into the misty haze.

Driftwood swirly
From here on in, it would be pretty much a beach walk back to the car, although the beach walk was bisected by the formidable redoubt of Cape Blanco. Large driftwood logs lined the beach below the yellow (gorse was blooming on the hillsides) cliffs. At the end of the beach, Needle Rock loomed, seemingly trying to pop the blue sky balloon above. We all sat and rested for a bit, gathering our strength for the steep climb to the top of the cape.

This was the first time I had hiked this loop in a clockwise direction and "Ugh!" is all I have to say about the hike up. There is no official trail, just a muddy goat path that is challenging enough on the descent, never mind the daunting challenge on the way up! Looking down at the beach on the climb up, we spotted small army of hiker ants marching on the sand and stopping to rest at Needle Rock like we did.

Gulls taunt the dog from across the river
Another steep and muddy path took me off the cape and down to the beach on the north side. I unleashed Luna and she was overjoyed at her freedom and I was somewhat inspired to keep walking by watching her frolic and caper in the waves. A mile later, we arrived at the Sixes River, which was carrying a lot more water than it had been during our December visit. A flock of seagulls napped on the opposite bank, much to the consternation of Luna who could see but not chase the gulls across the river.

Light show
In December, a herd of sheep had been grazing in the pastures flanking the Sixes River, but they were not there any more. That was a good thing, considering I was walking an easily excited dog at the end of this hike. All in all, this wound up being another great hike on another great day at the Oregon coast, even if the day did not match the standard of the Best Day Ever.

Spiders try to snare passing hikers
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. All we can say is that reading this and seeing the pictures is torture. Sure do love Cape Blanco SP and the surrounding areas. Lots of great hikes. Looked absolutely beautiful!