Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bullards Beach to Seven Devils Wayside

That's it, I quit! No more hiking inland! Lately, every time I hike in either the Cascades or the Siskiyous, the weather's been rainy, cold, or all of the above. In contrast, almost every time I've hiked at the coast in the last few months, the weather has been absolutely glorious with spring time sun shining brightly with perfectly mild temps. The latest case in point was a recent hike from the Coquille River to Seven Devils State Recreation Site (which is just a glorified name for "picnic area on Seven Devils Road").

Between the Friends of the Umpqua and the South Coast Striders (a sister hiking club from Coos Bay), we had nearly 20 hikers presenting to arms. By the time we showed at the meet-up point at Seven Devils, the Coos Bayliens had already worked out the intricate machinations of the vehicle shuttle. By way of explanation, the shuttle process was required because this was a one-way beach walk of 8.2 miles with drivers needing a ride back to their vehicles at Bullards Beach after the hike was over. We left a couple of cars at Seven Devils for that express purpose and began hiking from the Coquille River and its attendant lighthouse and river jetty.

This fossil found a fossil
The lighthouse used to be sited on an island in the middle of the river entrance but man in his infinite wisdumb, constructed a rock jetty to shepherd the river safely out to sea. The normal oceanic shoreline currents were interrupted and impeded by the jetty, with the result that backfill soon connected the lighthouse's island to the shore. I think that also as a result of this particular instance of man tampering with nature, is that Bullards Beach is always (within my experience, at least) littered with rocks that make this beach the beachcomber's equivalent of a yard-sale addict with $500 to spend at an estate sale. 

Sanderlings do the wave dance
Well, it didn't take long for me and several other beachcombing like-minded individuals to start walking slower, eyes carefully scanning the ground for beach treasure. Directly related to said activity, my pack soon weighed more that it did when I had started hiking, due to my toting a healthy sampling of clam fossils and petrified wood. My buddy Jay was similarly afflicted and burdened.

Our basic view for 8 miles
Although a cool breeze was a constant and the temps were somewhere in the low 50's, the sun was out and there was no chance of rain. The Oregon coast stretched out in front of us and we could see all the way to Cape Arago. I told Jay we were hiking all the way there because it was  so much fun to hear him cry with dismay.

The tide was out, to put it mildly

The tide was receding and by the time we reached Cut Creek at the 4 mile mark, we had acres of sand to walk on as the ocean had sullenly withdrawn from all beach proceedings. Tidal flats and sand bars were exposed by the retreating sea, and there was more slow walking due to some more obligatory beachcombing. There was probably like 40 or 50 yards of wet sand that was firm enough to provide a nice hard surface for easy hiking.

Jay ponders how to cross without getting feet wet
The next landmark after Cut Creek was Whiskey Run, a medium sized creek that sinuously S-curved its way to the much larger ocean. A pair of kite surfers were doing their thing in the choppy surf while fisherman were filling up their buckets with perch, enjoying peaceful beachy solitude as they plied their avocation. At the water's edge, flocks of sanderlings comically darted in and out, matching the ebb and flow of the waves.

Tidepool scenery at Fivemile Point
About a mile past Whiskey Run, Fivemile Point seemingly blocked the way. Now, I've hiked around the point a time or two, but always on a receding tide. In each instance, it had been tricky scrambling over the rocks while waves tried to eat me. But ah, at low tide, no such issues at all, it was merely a simple walk around the point.

Exposed shoals at low tide
Well, maybe not all that simple, for the retreating tide had left numerous tide pools that just called for exploration and photography. Jay and I, who were already lagging far behind the main body of power-hikers, soon lagged even further behind but on the other hand, we both have lots of photos of the scenic pools and rocky islands at Fivemile Point. 

Twomile Creek beelines for the sea
Even though it is only a mile further past Fivemile Point, the creek there is called Twomile Creek. Around here, they must use the metric system when naming their landmarks. But Twomile Creek marked our exit point off the beach and the end of this 8.2 mile beach walk. We all really enjoyed this sunny day on the coast, made perhaps even more memorable by comparison to the next day's hike in a swirling snowstorm on the North Umpqua Trail. Seriously, I'm just going to hike at the coast from here on in.

Nice haul!
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.