Sunday, March 1, 2020

Bandon Beach

About a half mile into our hike, Daweson just had to stop and do some totally senseless and inane back flips with all the joy and enthusiasm of youth. His ebullience was contagious and there'd be no sadness or wallowing in pity for me this day, I knew there was a reason I brought him along!

Sun, land, and sky
Bandon Beach is awesome, there's no other way to put it. The scenery is world-class and hiking along the beach with its miles of rocky islands and points is one of my favorite things to do. On the day of our hike, the weather was superb, making an already great hike even better. The day could never quite make up its mind whether it was cloudy or sunny, but there was more than enough blue sky to gladden hearts and spirits. While semi-sunny, the temps were cool, just perfect for hiking, and our only small complaint was a pretty good breeze blowing in our faces on the walk back to the car.

Islands, islands, and more islands
Another plus on this day was that the tide was out for most of our hike, making all the islands accessible to curious hikers and tidepoolers alike. Although to be technical about it, should an island be referred to as an island when it really isn't an island during low tide? Does it have to be surrounded by water on all sides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 in leap year) to qualify as an island? Just asking for a friend. At any rate it was cool to be able to walk down among the islands stranded high and dry by the retreating tide.

A perfect day for hiking
As previously stated, the sun was out and the sky was blue with that crystalline clarity that only occurs on a crisp winter day. There were just enough puffy white clouds to keep the day on the sunny side while making for some nice photography as they floated above the beach. A brisk breeze kept an airborne armada of colorful kites afloat as we started. Because of the low tide, there was plenty of beach to walk on and the wet sand reflected the clouds and sun as if it were a low-resolution reflecting pond.


Daweson jumped on a low rock at surf line and did his best one-footed Grandpa pose and I obliged by whipping out the camera. However, through the viewfinder, I could see the wave rolling in behind him and so was able to click off a photo sequence of his being overrun by the surf, complete with comically surprised expression on his face and all. There's two lessons here: never turn your back on the beach and never trust your grandfather. At any rate, his new and previously dry boots had just been properly initiated.

Elephant Island is the largest of the bunch
The last several times I've been at Coquille Point, we've had to scramble over the rocky point due to a high surf. Not today though, we were able to beach stroll around the point, and take in an up-close view of the maze of islands at the point with surging waves snaking their way in between. Elephant Rock has a large ocean-carved tunnel through it and we stopped to watch the ocean flush out the island's lower digestive tract, so to speak.

Oceal: Look at me!
Princess Elwauna: Neverrrr...!
From the point, we enjoyed a leisurely walk along the arcing bay of Bandon Beach, sited between Points Coquille and Grave. The morning sun reflected on a shimmering sea that glittered more than stage lights on a 70's hair band. The islands here resemble all sorts of things from old boots to to lobster claws to my dog leaning back to get her neck scratched. The star of the phantasmagorical collection of islands and rocks is Face Rock, the face thereof belonging to the native princess Elwauna of legend, forever forced to look away from the ocean.

Crooked Creek sparkles
Daweson's boots were just not going to dry out this day as we had to splash across Johnson Creek and later on, Crooked Creek. Both creeks are fairly sizable and although they both fan out across the beach, the main channels of each still remain an ankle-wetter. Once across Johnson Creek though, the islands thinned out a bit with the last major one, Haystack Rock, looming in the distance.

Haystock Rock afloat in a silver sea
After a mile or so on a beach littered with crab parts and other gull lunch leavings, we walked by Haystack Rock, splashed across Crooked Creek, and touched the last rock on the beach to mark our turnaround point. And back the way we had come we went. And yikes, we were catching a full face's worth of cold breeze!

Wind painting on beach sand
We hadn't really noticed the breeze on the walk out because the wind was at our backs which had been protected by our day packs. The wind was really noticeable when certain hikers who like to photograph, got down on one knee or lower; then the windblown fast-moving fine grains of sand applied a stinging dermabrasion treatment to incredibly handsome faces. But the sand on the beach was the Sistine Chapel to the wind's Michelangelo and the artwork of stripes, swirls, and tie-dye in all shades of tan was beautiful enough to justify the skin pain from the near-ground photography. I just hope everybody appreciates my facial skin's bravery and sacrifice.

Daweson braves the wind inside the cave

By this time, the tide was lazily incoming but would be still relatively low for the remainder of the hike. It did become high enough though, to force us to use the scramble route over Coquille Point. Grave Point presented no such problem, although we did take the cave tunnel through the point just for fun. The narrow passageway funneled the wind into gale force proportions as we staggered our way through.

Just gotta ruin my photo, don't you?

When we arrived at the jetty shepherding the wide Coquille River out to sea, a lone surf fisherman was plying his solitary avocation. The rock Daweson had been standing on when the wave had overrun his little perch was no longer visible, being covered up by the incoming tide. Daweson politely declined my request to reenact the morning photo. He seemed tired at the end of this hike but when I told him I'd buy him a jalapeƱo burger, I daresay he had enough youthful energy left that he nearly did another flip for joy. Such is the enthusiasm of the young, and that's why I brought him along.

More beach abstract art
For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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