Saturday, August 2, 2014

Umpqua Spit

I had so much fun backpacking to the end of Umpqua Spit last May, I just had to bring my Friends of the Umpqua friends to the spit. Of course, what was an easy two-day backpack trip became a more challenging day hike due to the round-trip 11.7 miles of beach walking. Also, there'd be no awesome sunset on the day hike version as we'd be back in Roseburg well before day's end. On the plus side, a trip to the coast would be a great way to escape the frying pan sizzle that has been southern Oregon this summer.

Maureen flies across the tidal flat
The day was blessedly overcast as clouds covered up the shore like a misty blanket of coolness; the temperature was in the high 50's and just perfect for hiking. As we (all eight of us, plus two dogs) set out on the beach it was apparent the ocean had been busy sculpting the beach as there were a number of ditches and flumes carved into the beach. We crossed Threemile Creek but it was hard to tell exactly where as there were a number of impromptu ponds and water flows that we had to hike through and around. I kept comparing the relatively rugged beach to the flat-as-a-pool-table shoreline that I had encountered on my spring backpack trip. 

Low tide exposed churned up beaches
There weren't any other hikers out on the beach besides our little group and we were passed by a small contingent of noisy four-wheelers tearing up the dunes. On the hiker-only sections of the Oregon coast, they rope off the dry sand part of the beach and post warning signs for hikers to stay on the wet sand in order to protect the snowy plover. They don't even try with the motorized crowd and I'll take that as a compliment. At any rate, this hike was miles and miles of lonely beach.

Umpqua River on the left, ocean on the right
After about 4 miles, the Umpqua River jetty hove into view and we homed in on it like a mosquito homes in on a hot and sweaty hiker. Once we arrived at the jetty it was time for a lunch and laze atop the rocks. We had a nice overlook of the Umpqua River and across the river in Winchester Bay they were having their annual Dunefest. The Dunefest is probably why we did not see more four-wheelers on this hike.

The sun, it burnsss us, yess!
On the way back the tide started to come in and all the hydrologic sand carving was covered up by the sea. Just like my spring hike here, the beach was now smooth and flat and we were clicking off 18 to 19 minute miles. Including outrlunch time, we averaged 24.5 minutes per mile. We were walking almost as fast as the four-wheelers! Towards the end of the hike, the clouds dissipated, the sun came out, and we returned to blistering hot Roseburg.

Charlie's Angels?
For more pictures of this long beach walk, please visit the Flickr album.

Somebody hacked up a lung, or maybe a spleen

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