Sunday, November 18, 2018

Cape Arago 11/2018

I've hiked Cape Arago like a million times. Now, it's not as much fun to hike the same trail over and over again, so I've tried to make each sortie different somehow. Accordingly, I've hiked the rugged coast near Charleston several times in each of the four seasons and in all kinds of conditions, weather, and routes. I've hiked to Cape Arago from Sunset Bay, Bastendorff Bog, or the Perimeter Trail. I've hiked while grazing on salmonberries and studiously avoiding ingesting poisonous fly amanita mushrooms. I've hiked in sun, rain, and fog denser than the center of a black hole. I've hiked the trails in broad daylight and on both a moonlit and pitch-black night. The only thing left to do is hike backwards on a pogo stick singing "There's no Business Like Show Business" at the top of my lungs. Oh wait, there is one thing I haven't done yet: while I have spent many a trail mile dodging spray from the massive waves that pummel the Oregon coast, I have yet to see the Cape Arago environs on a day where nothing really happens, wave-wise. And yup, you guessed it, this was the day!

Photography was nearly a contact sport
The sun was out in full ineffective glory when we started. Like an ex-spouse, it was beautiful to look at but still left one cold. But hey, we were all thankful for the blue sky and bright light, seeing as how it had rained for a solid two decades (or so it seemed) right before the hike. The ocean was a colorful blue-green in the open sunlight and lazily lapped at the shore, like ripples in a freshwater lake on a languid day. Periodic breaks in the forest cover provided awe-inspiring views of the rugged Oregon coast and the stillness of the day was broken by the sounds of camera-toting hikers pushing and shoving each other just to get an optimal photo of all the peace and tranquility below the trail.

Rock formations at Shore Acres
When we reached Shore Acres State Park, we noticed we were short two hikers: Jay and Catherine. Turned out they had gotten off trail somehow and wound up on the inland short-cut to the park, arriving just as we were dithering about what to do about our missing people. Once back to our full complement of hikers, we continued on to Simpson Beach and then the Simpson Reef overlook where we observed dozens of sea lions basking and lazing in the sun, totally in keeping with the calm ocean.

Just gotta love that coastal forest!

From the overlook, we normally hike up the Cape Arago highway to the cape itself. However, John was leading the way and John does not like road hikes. So, we crossed the highway and grabbed the tie-in trail to the Cape Arago Pack Trail and in short order legs were screaming and lungs were bursting as that short-cut trail is a little on the steep side, to put it mildly. But at least, it wasn't a long uphill distance before the path met up with the Pack Trail.

View south towards Bandon
There were a couple of newbies that were really struggling with the uphill so I hung back with them to offer words of encouragement. The trail ambled through coastal forest where thin sunlight slanted through the trees. Mushrooms and fungus sprouted from the forest duff in abundance and much photography ensued. Once on the Pack Trail (which is a gravel road, actually), we headed downhill to the cape. At this point, I could see John and several other hikers ahead of me, but after several of us availed ourselves of the public restrooms in the picnic area atop the cape, John and his contingent had all disappeared somewhere to parts unknown.

Our lunchtime view
I assumed everybody had hiked down to the picnic tables at North Cove so I herded my charges down to the North Cove John, no hiking friends. We waited a bit, eating lunch while the sweet intoxicating scent of sea lion ordure permeated the forest and took a little epicurean luster off our respective meals. After lunch was summarily dispatched, we retreated to the Cape itself and relaxed a bit, enjoying the sun reflecting off the vast ocean spreading out before us.

South Cover, at beach level
Turned out John had gone down to the South Cove for lunch and while there, had realized we were missing in action. A "lucky" hiker was designated to walk up to the cape to let me know where they were. However, my peeps were not too keen about hiking down the cove with the steep climb back up waiting afterward. So, down to South Cove I went all by myself and I was glad my version of the hike was a two-cove special, because the view of the southern coastline below South Cove was awesome. The imposing coastal cliffs stretched out all the way to Coquille Point and a light mist was forming where land met sea. Much photography ensued once again.

My church
An afternoon mist was coalescing in the woods on the way back and the humidity pervaded clothing as well as trees. However, the mist imbued the sunlight slanting through the coastal jungle just the right bit of heft, photographically speaking. I was working on filling up the photo card in my camera and soon found myself at my customary position bringing up the rear. I made Jay and Catherine stay in view though, as they both were in my car and we didn't need another impromptu wander through the woods.

Enticing, but definitely not good to eat!
So, we enjoyed this hike on an unusually calm ocean day at the cape. Now, to prepare for my next venture here, I'll have to start practicing on the pogo stick! For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


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