Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cape Sebastian - Pistol River

My basic plan for the three day President's Day Weekend was to backpack the Lower Rogue River Trail near Gold Beach, weather permitting. Unfortunately, the weather would not permit, according to the forecast I read.  So, a three-day dayhike series was penciled in with a dry motel room reserved for each night.

View to Gold Beach and the Rogue River

Arriving at Cape Sebastian, the second-guessing began when I began my hike under clear blue skies. Dang! I should have went backpacking.  Mumbling and grumbling aside, the view from the top of the Cape north along the Oregon Coast to Gold Beach was magnificent. Leaving the views behind, the trail then tunneled into the windblown vegetation and entered a wonderfully shaded forest as it began switchbacking down towards the foot of the cape. 

Waves break below the trail
On the seaward side of the cape, the forest thinned out as the wind is really tough on trees in these parts and I got to zip off my pant legs and offer my pasty winter-white legs to the sun gods. Once at the toe of Cape Sebastian, the trail follows the shoreline south while waves break on the rocky shore below the path. 

The first ooh-and-aah moment since the start of the hike is when Hunters Cove comes into view. The entire life cycle of a wave can be observed from gentle swells entering the bay to the waves crashing upon Hunters Island, eventually petering out upon the beach shore below rocky cliffs.

Rope descent to the beach
Solid earth is a precious and transient commodity in these parts as cracks in the trail indicated the hillside is slipping downwards. Right before the beach, the trail ends abruptly at a 50-foot cliff and the final descent is made by walking backwards down the cliff while holding on to a stout rope.

Knee-deep at high tide
Once on the beach, I headed out under the spring sun with the intent of reaching the Pistol River. The numerous rock islands and sea stacks near the river beckoned. However, the tide was fairly high just after a wet ford at Myers Creek and when I found myself knee-deep in water with my back to the rock wall below Highway 101, it was "hike's over" at that point. Mildly disappointed, I turned back and made the steep climb back up the cape.

On my drive to Brookings, I noticed the tide had receded during my walk back and I thought to myself "Hmmm..." and I parked the car and it was "hike's on" at that point. The sea had receded quite a bit and all the islands were islands no more. The wet sand was firm enough for comfortable walking and I poked my camera into the nooks and crannies on the islands, taking pictures of mussels, barnacles, and starfish. 

Pistol River

The Pistol River was running deep and fast and put an end to any thoughts of continuing south along the beach. Returning the way I came, clouds came in and the afternoon sun behind the clouds kept my camera busy. All in all, a great hike even if I had to do it in two parts.

End of a great hike

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