Friday, March 26, 2021

Port Orford Heads and Tseriadun Recreation Site

The views from Port Orford Heads were stunning

Day 2 of my hernia surgery recovery plan (not specifically endorsed by my surgeon) called for another short hike on Port Orford Heads, the idea being to hit places where I would not normally hike because of the meager distance of the trails. Located between the town of Port Orford and the Pacific Ocean, the headlands on the ocean side are surrounded by nasty rocky islands and even nastier rocks lying in wait just below the surface of the ocean. Back in the day, boats ran into the submerged rocks with enough frequency that a lifeboat crew was stationed atop the heads to rescue sailors and passengers alike. Nowadays, the Heads and historical lifeboat station are a state park and a short trail leads to several outstanding viewpoints atop the headlands.

Wild iris graced the trail

Beginning at the aforementioned lifeboat station, the path quickly dropped into a lush forest where ferns rested upon the stout arms of spruce branches like so many polypodiophytic (fancy word for ferny) turkeys roosting for the night. Wild iris, woodland violet, and oaks toothwort were beginning the spring show on the forest floor while small birds twittered and flittered in the flourishing shrubbery.

The ruins of the once and former boathouse

At an overlook of a narrow cove dwarfed by the tall cliffs of the headlands, the ruins of the old boathouse (long since lost to a fire) could be seen. To effect a rescue, the lifeboat crews stationed here had to hike down from the station to the boathouse, manually row the boats out onto the stormy sea, rescue those in need of such, row back to the boathouse, and then hike back up the incredibly steep stair-stepped path back to the station atop the Heads. Wow, they were capable of much greater things than anything this herniated hiker could ever accomplish.

A keyhole-shaped cove at Port Orford Heads

The trail soon left the forest and transitioned to an up and down route along the edge of the headlands. The track abruptly came to an end, primarily because Oregon likewise came to an abrupt end. The drop-off was sheer and precipitous, and the view from the head of the Heads was stunning. Below, windblown waves with spindrifts curling off them crashed onto rocky islands and shores, or surged into keyhole coves with equal vigor. Offshore, a number of boat-eating islands extended out to several miles from the shore. One pyramid-shaped island had a large cave in it which reminded me of my Sisters Rock hike from the day before.

You could see forever except for Cape Blanco being in the way

To the north, stretched a beach all the way north to Cape Blanco with the town of Port Orford and local landmark Garrison Lake eminently visible. The sea was colored aquamarine, the surf glowed a radiant white, and the sky was painted a bright blue, all colors contrasting nicely with the dark brown beach and the black and brown terrain of Port Orford Heads. Definitely a colorful view for the ages!

Red currant prettied up the Tseriadun trailhead

While fun, the hike on Port Orford Heads was not very long and my legs still felt peppy, as they should, so I drove down to Tseriadun State Recreation Site, because I had never been there and the name sounded exotic if only because it began with a "ts". The locals and maps refer to Tseriadun as Agate Beach which is not as exciting a name, but if I could return home with a small haul of agates, then that would be excitement enough.

A low dune of soft sand is all that protects
Garrison Lake from the ravages of the ocean

Beaches are always fun but this particular beach is made unique by the proximity of Garrison Lake, for only a tenuous spit of sand separates lake from ocean. From a hiking standpoint, it's kind of cool to walk on the dune with the calm and placid lake on one side while on the other side, the restless ocean fumes "Mine, soon you will be mine!" Given a recent history of the ocean breaching the sandy spit during raging storms, it's not an idle threat.

Offended by my intrusive presence, the ocean gnashes its teeth

The beach sprawled under a clear blue sky but a cold and strong wind made my eyes water which might be why I didn't spot any agates. The waves were large and boisterous with the stiff breeze peeling spray off of the onrushing surf. At the south end of the beach, loomed an imposing rocky pyramid with the much larger cliffs of Port Orford Heads rising beyond. The waves were pretty awesome as they thundered against the rock so I hiked in that direction to get a better look-see.

Heed the warning, Richard

On the other side of the jagged rock was a fairly substantial creek snaking back and forth through a sand and rock combo before reaching the sea. The waves were breaking big, the spray of the surf rolling off the rocks and into the creek and I spent a few minutes doing some photography. However, several large waves rolled up the creek bed, nearly cutting me off from a safe retreat. That was my cue, and when the incoming tide temporarily receded between waves, I backtracked to safety on the beach.

The waves were spectacular

I had intended to hike a nearby nature trail before heading back to Winston but could not find the trailhead (I did see it as I was leaving, though). But the day almost felt complete anyway, with awesome scenery accessed via some restorative walking. While I could have used a few more miles of hiking, my surgeon will no doubt have a frowny face when she hears what I've been up to, so we'll just make this outing our little secret. 

The rugged Oregon coast at Port Orford Heads

For more photos of this pair of hikes, please visit the Flickr albums:

Port Orford Heads

Tseriadun State Recreation Site


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