Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blacklock Point

"My traveling companion is nine years old..."
Paul Simon, from the song "Graceland"

That line kept playing in my head as I took eight year old grandson Aiden on his first backpack trip. I was reminded of the fact I was hiking with an eight year old when, a mere half-mile into the hike, he plopped down on the trail and said "I'm tired, I can't go on!" This was going to be a long trip, and I'm not just talking about the mileage.

Are we there yet?
Mud puddles and boys go together

We had started with the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club on a recent hike to Blacklock Point and we had left the car at Floras Lake, where we would be putting out. The trail initially tunnelled through tall rhododendrons not yet in bloom on an old roadbed that was full of deep standing water that were more like ponds and less like puddles. It wasn't long before all our hiking friends left us behind as we were walking at boy-speed.

On the cliffs at Blacklock Point

As stated previously, approximately a half-mile into the hike Aiden plopped down and said he was tired and couldn't go any further. What the...?  After I explained that our car was 7 miles away and it was either continue walking or go missing in the woods, he reluctantly continued on the trail. A short bit through a ferny forest brought us out onto the cliffs overlooking Blacklock Point and some epic views.

Blacklock Point

It was a gorgeous spring day with nary a cloud in the sky and the view south consisted of the rocky bay arcing to Cape Blanco. To north, stretched the Oregon coastline towards an unseen Bandon. And due west, virtually at our feet, was craggy Blackock Point with a small chain of islands, seemingly tossed out there by Blacklock. Views like this require a sit down and we found out the boy's miracle food was nut-bar snacks. 

Drink this for a diarrhea song inspiration
Totally rejuvenated we set off on the Oregon Coast Trail.  To while away the time we played, for lack of a better word, the "diarrhea game". Not as gross as one might initially surmise, the game consisted of making a rhyme about diarrhea, as in "no pain, no strain, just sit and let it drain!" The obvious rhymes consisted of "poop" and "goop, or "creamy" and "steamy" but I was particularly proud of my rhyme using "fish emulsion" and "jet propulsion". Now, some readers, or even most readers, would question the value of this little game but the game's true value was that it kept Aiden walking without complaining.

The Oregon Coast Trail followed the cliffs above the beach and periodically we would bushwhack and sally forth onto a russet colored bluff top to explore and eat more nut bars. The views were all magnificent as the cliffs stretched several miles north, looking like a massive Egyptian temple a la Abu Simbel. Truly magnificent under a clear blue sky.

Ooh!  Aah!
We set up camp at the 4 mile mark alongside a small creek and went to explore the beach a short walk away. Our creek snaked back and forth through the coarse sand before joining up with the Pacific Ocean. Aiden crossed and recrossed the creek, scrambled up some rocks, and played tag with the ocean. In short, he was being a boy. The beach is quite steep so the waves made up for lack of inland distance with power. One particular wave tagged Aiden and said in wave-speak "you're it!" Aiden somersaulted several times in the white water and rolled up stating "I'm ready to go back to camp now" as salty water dripped off of his face
Welcome to the sand canyon

Sunset, sort of
So he got to wear some of my shirts which were comically big but seriously dry and we hung up his clothes on some bushes to air out over the night. After dinner, we returned to the beach and were quite surprised to see a storm system had come in. Rain was definitely in the offing and Aiden played in the sand (Grandpa wouldn't let him get near water) while I took pictures.

While we were telling scary stories in the tent, the wind began to whip up and eventually the rain came and kept it up all night. It was a "howlah" like they say in Australia. This was the first occasion I had to field-test my tent and I'm glad to say we stayed dry. 

Camp Waterlog
The Hunchback of Notre Blacklock

The rain let up by morning and we struck camp in a muddy campsite and returned to our beach. As we did so, the cloud cover broke up and we were treated to another magnificent day on the coast. Our going was slow because Aiden is a rockhound and the beach was covered with rocks. My pockets became heavy as they  were slowly stuffed with Aiden's treasures.

After a mile, the imposing cliffs petered out and a small creek was our ticket off the beach where we followed an overgrown trail to Floras Lake. Aiden waded in the shallows while I stayed on the trail. Eventually, we arrived at the car and our reward was a lunch of Chinese food in Bandon. We both got a lot out of this hike as it was a nice bonding experience in a Graceland of our own.
A great time was had by all


  1. Lovely! Must have been a real memorable hike for both of you. KLT

  2. Sweet memories that Aiden will treasure in years to come.

  3. one of my very favorite places to be... thanks for sharing your day