Thursday, March 25, 2021

Sisters Rock

Enough was enough! I'd been sulking in hiking purgatory ever since my hernia surgery but I just had to get out onto the trail, even though the day was still technically within the doctor-ordained purgatorial time frame. But I figured a short "hike" at Sisters Rock out at the coast would get me outdoors without causing myself further injury.

"I'll keep an eye out for you!"

Sisters Rock actually is a geologic sisterhood of several large and pyramidal rocky points, and I've sped past them many a time while whizzing down the Coast Highway on my way to worthier hikes, the Sisters getting categorized as unworthy due to the shortness of the "hike". But nonetheless, the Sisters remained on my radar because they are a spectacular sight even when seen from a speeding car. 

One small rusting piece of what was once Frankport, Oregon

During the 1850’s a shipping dock was constructed at Sisters Rock and the town of Frankport sprung up to service the shipping operations. Nowadays, all that remains of the town are rusting metal parts and miscellaneous debris strewn about Frankport Beach. Around 2009, Sisters Rock was brought into the Oregon State Parks system which then did the right thing in closing the road down to the rocks, thereby converting the rickety road into a hiking trail. 

People used to drive down this road?

Well, I may have sped down the highway to get here but there'd be no speeding on the old road leading down to the rocks. The rough track was steep, rugged, and rocky enough to present a mild challenge to a recovering hernia addict on foot. I can't even imagine driving a vehicle down to the rocks, and I have a Jeep. I think you'd want to go down with a vehicle, friends, and family members you don't particularly care about! On the plus side though, the views were immediately awesome.

Just another gloomy day in paradise

On the negative side, the weather was also immediately awesome, just not in a good way. The temperature was cold, just marginally above freezing. A stiff breeze sweeping in from the south made sure to move that cold air through the threads comprising whatever woefully ineffective fabric my clothing layers were made of. When the rain came, the same breeze moved the water through those very same threads. This hike definitely was a teeth-chatterer! There's always an upside though, and the sight of the storm pummeling the Oregon coast in both directions was simply splendid in a gloomy and moody way.

The rough-and-tumble Oregon coast to the south of Sisters Rock

Sisters Rock is actually a sorority of several sister rocks, each tenuously connected to Oregon and each other by a narrow isthmus. From the isthmus, one can explore at will and my first little foray took me to the south cove and Frankport Beach. It was high tide and the beach was off limits for those hikers wanting to stay safe, present company included. The rugged and jagged Oregon coast, dotted with rugged and jagged islands by the dozens, curved south with the rocky point of Devil's Backbone clearly visible as the shore arced away under a glum sky.

View from Frankport Beach

The beach was strewn with rusting machinery and debris in testament to the Rock's history as the former home of Frankport, Oregon. While the tide prevented further exploration south, I did tarry a bit, grateful to be sheltered from the wind by a kind and caring Sister. Lest I get too comfortable though, I had to briefly endure getting pelted by a passing squall of hail.

View across a bay to Humbug Mountain

Fortunately, the weather improved while I idled behind the leeward side of the lesser Sister and when I hiked over to the Big Sister, sun and blue sky made an appearance here and there between the still abundant clouds. Despite the sun, it was still the same cold wind though, although the sun and clouds added a whole new dramatic look to Humbug Mountain lording it over a choppy sea.

Entrance to Poseidon's realm

Sisters Rock herself is basically a large pyramid sited above a flat and rocky bench replete with tide pools, the formidable face and erstwhile symmetry of the rock being sort of marred by a large hole in it. Was that an entrance into a mine, or a portal to a forbidden underworld full of slimy coastal orcs? A short scramble up to the lip revealed the answer, it was a sea cave, full of ocean water pulsing with each tidal surge. Pretty cool, but I carefully backed away from the edge, not wanting to become a tasty and incredibly handsome morsel falling into Big Sister's slobbery maw.

View to another Sister just off shore

There is a roughhewn road leading up to a saddle between two of the rocks and that was the last little item of business on this short "hike". A solitary Sister floating offshore was neatly framed between the two rocks like a target in a geological gunsight. Waves broke on the shore below in white-watered glory and I counted four sea cave entrances at the base of Sisters Rock herself. Wow, the seemingly solid rock must be as hollow as a molar after a lifetime of eating cotton candy!

It was an "all of the above" weather day!

Normally, I wouldn't deign to drive several hours just to "hike" a couple of miles but in this case, the day was a qualified success. My recovering abdomen handled the "hike" just fine and any hike where you can say "I don't have any new hernias or reopened incisions" is a good hike! 

Tidal pools form below the Sisters

For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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