Monday, February 20, 2012

Cape Ferrelo

February 20, 2012

Why am I the only one out here?
OK, so the day before I hiked in the sun at Cape Sebastian and internally remonstrated with myself all the while for canning my backpack trip because bad weather was forecast.  On this day, I exited my motel room in Brookings and the rain was coming down faster than a wingless duck.  Side issue:  I've never seen a wingless duck and if it was wingless then how would it get up to the point it had to come down?  Silly metaphor, but let it be said it was raining harder than it is for a wingless duck to fly.  There I go again.
Oregon grape, getting irrigated
Whaleshead Beach, from the trail
Cape Ferrelo is on the magnificent 13 mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail in Samuel Boardman State Park, just north of Brookings.  The coast is spectacular with steep cliffs, narrow beaches, and lots of rocky island for waves to crash on.  Because of the scenery and because Highway 101 is relatively nearby, there are plenty of visitors and tourists at the many turnouts, parks, campgrounds, and viewpoints from which to access the Oregon Coast Trail.  Except when it rains faster than week-old sushi going through your system.  Another silly metaphor, and I'm not speaking from personal experience.

So, at the parking lot above Whaleshead Island, I had the whole place to myself.  Apparently the grandeur of the Oregon coastline does not hold any allure on a rainy day.  I'm not sure what the allure was for me, but the alternative was to stay cooped inside a motel room watching TV all day.  Much better to get soaked and chilled on the trail while applauding the decision not to go backpacking.
Moss and ferns, lots of moss and ferns
A newborn coral fungus

From the parking lot, the Oregon Coast trail dove into the forest where it might be presumed I'd be drier.  Nope, the only difference was that the mechanism for water transfer changed from airborne water droplets to trailside ferns.  I still got wet and some of that was self-inflicted when I lay down on the ground to take pictures of all the baby coral fungi sprouting from the mossy forest floor.

Ferns were everywhere, and anything that was not a fern was covered in a healthy layer of moss.  That's probably because it RAINS!!! in Oregon.  Creeks crossed the trail but fortunately most had footbridges over them; gotta keep the feet dry even if every other part of the body is getting drenched. 
If you like moss, this is your hike
The trail zigzagged from the bluffs overlooking a fogbound beach to paralleling busy Highway 101.  Cars whizzed by but I did catch a few incredulous "What is that guy doing out in the rain?" looks on the drivers' faces as the cars sped past. 
I just love a good wilderness hike!

After several miles, the trail egressed out onto the House Rock Viewpoint and there was not a single car in the ample parking lot.  Muttering a few apologies to my camera, I pulled it out of the dry bag and pointed towards House Rock.  An impenetrable wall of gray mist was all I could see, House Rock was closed up tighter than our cat at a visit with the veterinarian.  I'll explain the metaphor:  He does not like having his temperature taken...think about it.
"View" to House Rock
Ostensibly, the trail descends from the viewpoint to Cape Ferrelo but the cape was just a rumor in all the mist.  Slugs were my hiking companions, apparently they and deranged hikers are the only life to be found on trail in the middle of a rainstorm. 
A pictorial metaphor of me doing yard work
Leaving the forest, the trail crossed the grassy headlands above the barely visible Cape Ferrelo.  I had intended to at least get on top of the cape but strong winds changed my mind.  It's a simple math equation, really:  Take water, add 30 mile-per-hour winds and that equals one cold hiker.  I briefly entertained the idea of bypassing the cape and continuing on to Lone Ranch Beach but a trail sign advised the bridge crossing the creek had been removed for the winter.  That gave me the excuse to turn around and head back.
The shy and reclusive Cape Ferrelo

I chanted a refrain as I hiked back, something along the lines of "Why am I out here?  Why am I out here?  Why am I...?" to keep my hiking rhythm.  When I got back to Brookings, I could not drink enough hot chocolate or take a hot enough bath to warm up.   It was colder than one my ex-wife's mood swings and wetter than the time we left the hose on and departed for a three week long vacation.

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