Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gwynn Creek Loop

Rain Rain Rain
Come once again
Give us the chance
To sing and dance

From "Rain O Beautiful Rain"
by Partha Mahanta

Hiking in the rain-o-beautiful-rain
Let be known that on a recent hike at Cape Perpetua for Dollie and I, there was no singing or dancing involved. There was lots of rain-o-beautiful-rain though and I walked in a vortex of coldness that had little to do with the actual temperature involved. For some reason the vortex seemed to be centered on the red-jacketed hiker I was following (from a safe distance behind).

All hikes should start like this
I had promised a moderate hike of about 6 miles and I did stay true to my word but there were other travails involved besides the mileage. At first it seemed like there would be no tests of manhood, womanhood, or marital harmony as the hike got off to an auspicious start at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center with golden sunlight slanting through a steaming forest. After five minutes on the trail, the sun disappeared and 37 seconds after that, the rain started. Slugs were out and about on the trail in slimy ebullience, singing and dancing in the rain-o-beautiful-rain. 

The forest is full of green things
However, it was a light rain as the trail left the Cape Creek drainage, climbing up and over forested Cook's Ridge before dropping down into the Gwynn Creek canyon. Up was the key word here as the trail switchbacked to and fro, climbing a robust 1,000 feet in two miles through a dense forest of young trees.

Snarling wife
I was feeling pretty walky and actually was enjoying the exertion, a feeling that was not felt by all in our hiking party. I mentioned I was feeling pretty good and Dollie said "That's nice", only it was the "that's nice" that meant it really wasn't nice at all. My suspicion was confirmed when a trail runner came jogging down the trail with her dog. She was comparatively scantily clad, being oufitted in mere running shorts and a T-shirt. A broad smile indicated she was totally into the joy of running in the rain. We exchanged pleasantries in passing and once the young lady ran out of earshot, Dollie said "I hate her", upper lip curling in a feral snarl.

So happy for the chance to sing and dance
As we continued gaining elevation, we entered the low cloud cover cloaking Cape Perpetua and fingers of mist soon clasped trees, ferns, and hikers in a cold and wet hug. Then the real rain started. The forest was soon filled with the three-dimensional aural hiss of millions of rain drops simultaneously striking both leaves and raincoats. Fern fronds were bouncing up and down with the music and rhythms of the raindrops, happy for the chance to sing and dance in the rain-o-beautiful-rain.   

They make such a cute couple
All the bad uphill stopped at the junction with the Gwynn Creek Trail, and we commenced descending on the damp and muddy path. The very moment we started losing elevation the rain abated, seemingly in reward for our conquering the steep ridge. Green was the theme here with ferns, salal, and moss all being major contributors.

Get your red hot fungus here!
The November rains had set the mushrooms to sprouting and I spent a lot of muddy trail time lying on the ground taking pictures while Dollie scouted ahead for the next photo shoot subject. There were some coral fungus/staghorn fungus thingies ("thingy" being my technical word for "I don't know what this is") that got my attention. Usually, coral fungus is an ordinary looking tan color but there were specimens colored salmon, bright yellow, and nuclear meltdown red.

Forest still life
As we got closer to the bottom of the canyon, sunlight broke out and the forest soon became steamy with evaporating moisture. It could almost have been the tropics, except for the 48 degree temperature and all those spruce and fir trees. Gwynn Creek was nearby and although the creek's watery song could always be heard from the dense forest below the trail, we rarely caught a glimpse of the small creek. We encountered lots of casual hikers in a sign we were nearing the Oregon Coast Trail and a nearby car-friendly trailhead.

If I don't go in, the deer can't eat me
At the intersection with the OCT, we made a right turn and finished off the last mile of the hike. The trail went up and down around the toe of Cook's Ridge which had been our considerably more formidable nemesis further inland. By now the storm had broken up and we enjoyed nice views of the always spectacular rocky coast at Cape Perpetua.

A stop at the always tasty Los Amigos Burrito in Florence capped off a nice day and we decided we did enjoy our chance to sing and dance in the not-quite-so-beautiful rain.

Waxing lyrical as I savored tongue tacos while pondering the day's events, I even composed a poem in honor of our experience:

"Rain, rain, rain 
Come once again
Give us the chance
To wet our pants"

by Richard O'Neill

A sudden updraft blew his skirt up
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Hey, we are planning on hiking at Cape Perpetua next year when we camp at Beachside SP. Any recommendations for hikes? We will have 2 full days. I see we will have to try the Mexican restaurant you mentioned in Florence!!!

  2. I'm partial for the long loop up Cummins Creek then down Cooks Ridge, the loop is closed by taking the Oregon Coast Trail back to Cummins Creek, it;s nearly 10 miles. A shorter version of that hike can be taken by returning back via the ridge trail above Cummins Creek, that'd be about 5.5 miles. The Gwynn Creek loop we did is nearly 7 miles and is also worthy. Have fun, guys! (and dogs, too)