Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bandon Beach

It's hot. Very hot. So very hot. I'm melting like a spit out piece of used bubble gum on a hot sidewalk. Ants will die in my gooey puddle and passerbys will wonder what was that sticky stuff they stepped in as they scrape their shoes clean on the concrete curb baking in the oppressive heat. I can only open the freezer door and stick my head in the ice bucket, dreaming of a world where life is wonderfully Bandon!

How to beat the heat
So, while the Umpqua Valley stands in front of the heater vent of the universe, Bandon (and the Oregon coast, in general) enjoys perfect weather: overcast, some rain, and temperatures topping out at 60 degrees. I'm as jealous as my dog watching me pet the cat. Just to clarify, I only actually pet the cat when Dollie is watching or just to annoy the dog. But anyway, I was glad to park the car next to the Coquille River in Bandon on a delightfully cool morning where clouds were wonderfully gray, water occasionally fell from the sky, and a cool breeze caused me to don a light jacket.

One lone seal causes a stir
The beach was fairly busy next to the river jetty and I couldn't help but suspect all the beachgoers were Roseburg heat refugees like myself. The beach sand was soft as I walked past the numerous rock islands that make hiking on Bandon Beach so special. The map says I hiked past Black Rock but they all looked black to me. Further up the beach, a small crowd gathered excitedly in front of an island close to the shore. The cause of all the hubbub was a lone seal sitting on a rock. Well, to be technical seals don't sit, it was propped up on its flippers in sealy repose, fully entertaining the easily entertained masses.

Crop circle, beach style
The beach seemingly ends in a rock wall at Coquille Point, but the wall is really a collection of individual  islands, rocks, and stacks and there is a path through the maze. On the other side of the point was a bay with a beach adorned by crop circles, sans crops, of course. A man with a stick was creating the impermanent works of art and children big and small were walking in the mazes inscribed in the circles. It sure was embarrassing when I couldn't find my way out!

Face Rock
Just opposite Grave or Gravel Point (it depends which map is consulted, I've seen both names used) is an island known as Face Rock. Legend has it (this is the short version) an angered sea god froze the Princess Ewauna who had entered the sea carrying a cat and kittens in a basket. As a reluctant cat owner, all I can say is "r-i-i-i-i-i-ight..." about the idea of successfully carrying a cat, much less one with kittens, in a basket into the ocean. At any rate the angry sea god tossed all the mewling felines into the ocean and froze the the princess. My feeling is that the cats probably were to blame for the whole incident somehow. The princess is now Face Rock, forever gazing up at the moon. A nearby collection of islands lined up in a row are now collectively known as the Cat and Kittens. I do find the idea of cats permanently soaking in the wet surf quite amusing. As an aside, the princess entered the sea with her dog but the dog managed to avoid being turned to stone, thereby proving dogs are smarter than cats, kittens, and princesses.

Four-legged tourists
This is not your basic wilderness hike what with inns, hotels, and luxury homes perched atop the cliffs and in some cases, halfway down the cliffs. The beach here is a tourist attraction and there were many tourists out enjoying the scenic beach. Several creeks crossed the beach and the warm waters were steaming in the cooler air. A posse of horseback riders passed by and there was more stuff steaming on the beach, if you get my meaning.

It's steamy in the Oregon tropics
At Devil's Kitchen, which incidentally could be an alternate name for Roseburg right now, the houses petered out and the wild beach began. The 15 mile stretch of beach from Bandon to Port Orford is undeveloped and is Oregon's longest stretch of wild beach. Fellow hikers were few and far between after I passed Haystack Rock, the last island on Bandon Beach.

Find the snowy plover in this picture
As wild as the beach is, a rope fence keeps hikers off of the dry sand. This is snowy plover territory and the small bird is endangered. The plover spends it's entire life on the sand and it is easy for hikers to step on camouflaged eggs and chicks. In Oregon, the protection offered the plover is nothing new for me but for the very first time I observed a plover sprinting ghostlike across the sand. All I can say, is the birds are well camouflaged on the light colored sand.

Get the flock out!
Periodically, flocks of sanderlings flew by like airborne schools of fish, all turning in the same direction at the same time. If I was a sanderling, I'd be the one turning left when all turned right, causing a spectacular mid-air high speed pileup. I'd also probably get excommunicated from the flock at some point, too. There were also a number of vultures on the beach, just watching me...just watching...they made me nervous. 

As good as new
At just under 6 miles, the New River hove into the view. The map says the New River mouth was about 6 more miles ahead of me so if the large river running in front of me was not the New, then it was good as New. Sorry, I can't help it. The New was running wide and deep and like me, was not going to be crossed today. Besides which, I still had a 5.5 mile hike to get back to the car at this point.

An oystercatcher sneaks away
A nice little lunch 'n laze was enjoyed at the river's edge, the time spent observing the chaotic clash of watery titans where the New River collides with the Old Ocean. But all New things come to an end and back I went for the long walk to the car. I got to observe the gulls and sanderlings again while the vultures disconcertingly observed me like hungry patrons watching an approaching waiter bring their meal.

Why I hike on Bandon Beach
It was pleasantly cool and overcast on the drive home until I reached Camas Valley. There, the clouds dissipated and the sun was a big ball of way too hot fire. Normally, it's good to be back home but not when you're a figurative chestnut roasting on an open fire.

This hike rocks!
For more pictures of this coastal escape, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Richard, we were just up at Bandon last Saturday, 7-12. We camped at Cape Blanco for 4 nights and did a bunch of hiking - just posted on our blog. We have to agree that the coast is the place for cooler temps. Hate this hot stuff in Medford. Once the mosquitoes fade out we are hoping to hike up around Four Mile Lake & Crater Lake - maybe late August or September.