Sunday, July 19, 2020

Floras Lake Loop

I had been doing so well, too. During the months of June and July, I had been cranking out a hike every two or three days, getting into hiking trim and losing a few pounds in the process. Then this hike happened. There was a photogenic fungus growing on a tree trunk and I squatted down to get a fungus level shot and "SNAP!" My spine suddenly felt like an adult rat getting squeezed to death by a large python of pain. I just inhaled "oohhhhhhh...." for about five minutes, looked at my GPS which said my car was about 2.5 miles away, and said a few bad words which might have offended jays squawking in the trees overhead. Oh, this was going to be a fun hike back to the trailhead!

Woods dark and mysterious
At the hike's pre-injury commencement, it was a sunny day but at the coast, just because it's a sunny day doesn't mean it's warm. Case in point was this particular morning which began with blue sky and bright sunshine spread out over the trail like a celestial picnic blanket of goodness. Despite the seeming summer vibe however, the air was cool to the point of being cold and a very active breeze made sure to keep hikers moving so as to ward off an attack of the shivers.

Cow parsnip attracted the bees
My basic plan was to hike the Floras Lake - Blacklock Point loop in a counter-clockwise direction, reserving the craggy point for the end of the hike. Because I've been feeling walky these days, I figured I'd drop down off the point to get in some beach hiking between Blacklock Point and the Sixes River for some vague distance to be determined later, depending if my walkiness was still with me or not at that point.

Most of the trail was surrounded by dense vegetation
It used to be you hiked across an airstrip at the Cape Blanco Airport, and what could ever possibly go wrong with hikers on the runway? A lot actually, but fortunately nothing bad ever happened all the times I had taxied down the runway on foot. At any rate, now there are fences put up all around the airport so cutting over to the Oregon Coast Trail from here would be sure to involve some criminal trespass behavior. However, an approved (presumably) side trail now takes hikers to the rear of and around the runway so no crimes were committed (presumably) on this hike.

Trapper's tea was a thing on this hike
On the other side of the airport runway, the Oregon Coast Trail is an old jeep track that runs as unerringly straight as a graph of a linear equation. The clay-like soil is like cement this time of year, baked as hard and unyielding as a dinner cooked by the ex-wife. The track descended ever so gently through flourishing vegetation consisting primarily of tall rhododendrons and flowering trapper’s tea. It was quiet too, my only company being the breeze whooshing through the trees and one solitary trail runner who exchanged greetings with me both coming and going.

A very windy beach
After several miles of easy hiking, I grabbed a side trail to the beach, somewhat to my regret. The wind was howling like a choir of twenty-seven off-key banshees and was as cold as a vampire’s handshake. I tarried just long enough to snap some pictures and hightail it back to the protective cover of dense vegetation. The photos say it was a sunny day and ostensibly warm but the photos lie, don’t believe your eyes.

A paintbrush glows luminescent 
I ate lunch at an overlook of Floras Lake, totally entertained by the sight of about a dozen windsurfers enjoying the brisk wind like so many giant gossamer-winged dragonflies. Me, I did my best to stay out of the buffeting bone-chilling air currents, choosing instead to look at some tiger lilies flowering along the overgrown Oregon Coast Trail.

From atop the bluffs
My planned route was modified somewhat because instead of walking to Blacklock Point via the beach, I opted to take the trail on top of the beach bluffs. It was much less windy that way and besides which, high tide had rendered the beach walk a bit risky. Atop the bluffs, the forest was lush and beautiful with trees gnarled and twisted by the frequent breezes that pummel the Oregon coast. And in that beautiful forest is where my back decided to ruin my hike. Obviously, there’d be no going to Blacklock Point this day, darn it.

The gloom matched my post-injury mood
To match my mood, the weather changed from sunny and cold to foggy and cold on the way back. Periodically, the trail would serve up a view of fog and not much else. Besides which, I was not all that interested in scenery any more, for some pain-infused reason. Nothing lined up in my back the way it should and my posture was crooked as the trees I was walking under. My walking motion was kind off-kilter as I sidled sideways on the trail like a like a scuttling crab with a limp. It really was a shame this happened because I had been hiking fast and furious, well on my way to a preset target of 500 miles this year. Obviously, some down time and a period of recuperation are waiting for me, we’ll have to see how that affects my goal. The other disappointment is that the photo of the fungus that caused my spinal demise wasn’t even that great of a photo!

It was all this photo's fault!
For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Hope you are back at it soon. This 2020 has been tough. We too are trying for 500 miles but heat, smoke and my mom's passing away have brought current hiking to a standstill.

    1. Even without Covid-19, 2020 has been pretty much a kick in the 'nads, hasn't it? The trail has been my mental health refuge so hopefully you can get back on the trail soon. I'm really sorry to hear about your mom's passing, have my sympathies, thoughts, and understanding in that regard.