Saturday, August 1, 2015

South Slough

My buddy Lane had a computer problem recently and tragically, he forever lost a lot of his pictures. "Without the pictures, it's like it never happened. It just never happened at all" he moaned, wiping tears from his eyes. Well, halfway through this hike, I knew exactly what he meant when my camera suddenly quit working. So, using Lane's logic, we only made it halfway through a loop hike in the South Slough. Apparently, we are still there at the bottom of the loop, waiting pitifully for anyone to come give us a ride.

The Berry Hunter
I've driven past the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve entrance many times, whizzing by on on Seven Devils Road on the way to Cape Arago. However, I never felt the need to stop by for some hiking research of my own as I've always deemed the slough trail system too short and too tame for a Richard Hike. However, it was just right for a couple of young grandchildren so Aiden, Coral Rae, and I joined the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club for half of a short hike. The other half didn't happen, remember?

Old home on the Hinch homestead
This was a two-parter hike and the first portion was a short loop hike down to the former Hinch homestead with ruined home and barn adding a rustic flavor to this hike. And speaking of flavor, the blackberries and coastal huckleberries were in full fruity song and young Coral Rae walked slower and slower as she grazed the ample berrytude. Some older hikers were spotted doing likewise.

After this short loop, we hopped in our cars and disembarked at the visitor's center where Coral Rae was disappointed her miserly grandfather wouldn't buy her a stuffed panda on demand. We began on the Ten-Minute Loop Trail and all I could think was "Ten-Minutes?  There's no ten minutes in hiking!" And just a couple of minutes later, we grabbed the North Creek Trail and were in business.

Arrival at the slough

The trail dropped down the creek's drainage, steadily losing elevation through some lush coastal forest. It was all thimbleberry, huckleberry (much to Coral Rae's delight), salal, ferns, and foxglove. The trail bottomed out onto the grassy marshes of the South Slough and it was there that technical difficulties began to rear their ugly electronic heads. I noticed my camera was having problem with the white balance and focusing. After some mild consternation, the camera began flashing an ominous message "Camera body is not communicating with the lens. Turn off the camera and clean the contacts on the camera lens". Just to hammer the dire point home, there also was a large red triangle with an exclamation point flashing on the display screen. 

One-hundred and twenty lens cleanings later, the camera could at least take one picture before giving up the whole picture taking thing. So the rest of the hike never happened but if it did, we took an old railway trail through grassy sloughs while bad cameras were hurled into the marsh in frustration. OK, that last part took place only in my imagination. Before beginning the big climb back to the visitors center, we paused on a wooden viewpoint that looked like a giant tree house.

Broken cameras make me sad and I want my binky
Both Aiden and Coral Rae were feeling walky, apparently, so I just tucked in behind them and followed them up. Whew! Those young legs can really scoot uphill!  However, they were burned out when we did finally reach the visitor center while I still had some gas in the tank, chalk one up to old-people pacing!

We had one more item of interest left to complete the day. A short drive to a pullout on Coos Head lead to a steep trail dropping through the trees on the cliffs of the head. Tree hugging was involved. But there was a tunnel cut through the head for some mysterious reason and we used the tunnel to cross over to the other side of Coos Head.

What happens to misbehaving cameras

And what was on the other side? Why a secret little cove of a beach. And in order to get down to the beach, one had to rappel down on a wet rope. My two young charges now thought this was the coolest hike ever and they scrambled up and down the rope like the little monkeys they are, Of course, there are no pictures so this really didn't happen. After we returned to the car, I backed the car over the camera and then went forward. Back, forward, back, forward, and so on until that miscreant camera had been properly punished. Of course, that didn't really happen, either.

Our crew
For more pictures of this half a hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Well look on the bright side, at least your camera didn't stop working due to a selfie picture which I will never live down......that picture was taken and did happen!!!!

    1. I was thinking about your famed selfie shot as I was having problems with my camera