Friday, January 6, 2017

Bastendorff Bog Trail

Herein lies a tale of two hikes. Accordingly, I tried to find a quote from Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" that I could meld to a hiking metaphor but alas, none seemed to fit. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" Nah! Anyway, this is a two-hike blog entry because I hiked the Bastendorff Bog Trail two weekends in a row: once to scout the route and once to lead the Friends of the Umpqua on the actual hike. 

Lots of secret beaches on this part of the Oregon coast
Oregon had been pummeled by a series of snow storms and that made for an interesting drive over to the coast on both weekends. Where there was shade on the highway, ice was guaranteed to scare the daylights out of drivers. Snow was everywhere and the small town of Camas Valley in the Coast Range looked like some kind of ski resort. It was a slow drive on the first trip out which became even slower on Seven Devils Road which was dangerously slippery on its hilly curves. The following weekend, the snow had melted but the ice remained and if anything, the windy road had gotten icier. As my Jeep danced around on the treacherous road with me working the steering wheel back and forth like a NASCAR race driver, I couldn't help but notice all conversation in my car ceased, not sure why that was. However, despite the icy road conditions on both weekends, the weather was gloriously sunny but cold. One out of two is not bad, unless it's your grade on a calculus pop quiz. 

You can't handle the freedom!
On the scout trip, I was accompanied by Luna the Hiking Dog, and I slipped off her leash and let her run on the beach in 27 degree weather. After a 45 minute chase with much yelling and screaming on my part, I finally caught her and she remained leashed for the duration of the day. Luna simply could not handle the freedom, just like my wife.  In case you are wondering, I typed that with Dollie out of the room, I'm pretty brave that way. Anyway, once the recalcitrant dog was properly leashed, we hiked the length of Bastendorff Beach to a secluded cove.

I know just how that seaweed feels
When I had hiked here with the South Coast Striders a year ago, a rope-aided descent down a muddy track took us from the shoreline cliffs down to the cove. I tried to go up but the muddy track was now an icy track and when Luna could not get traction even with her natural crampons and 4-wheel drive, we backtracked to the kinder and gentler trail above the Bastendorff Beach campground.

Secluded cove
At the south end of Bastendorff Beach is Yoakam Point, a geological finger poking the soft blue underbelly of the Pacific Ocean. The views from the point are pretty awesome and I enjoyed looking at Bastendorff Beach arcing to the Coos Bay jetty while Luna enjoyed treats and a pat on the head. To the south was Gregory Point (an island, really) with Cape Arago Lighthouse reposing on top.

Snow?  Really? On the coast?
From Yoakam Point, we crossed Cape Arago Highway and entered a coastal forest comprised of spruce with a healthy undergrowth consisting mostly of salal and coastal huckleberry. There still was snow here and there on the ground. While the patches of snow were as weak and thin as jailhouse soup, it still was somewhat jarring to see snow on the coast, that hardly ever happens. Also jarring in a way, was the temperature. While the beach and point were fairly chilly, walking in the forest was like walking inside an icebox. It was much colder under the trees although Luna did not seem to mind. I did.

Boardwalk that wants to hurt me
We arrived at Sunset Bay Campground by skating across a slick and icy boardwalk that really wanted to hurt us. The campground roads were almost too icy to walk on, with traction fleeting and ephemeral. I called it good there and headed back, glad to return to Roseburg while there still remained some daylight.

Rachel ponders the mystery of life
A week later, 11 of us braved Seven Devils Road and set out onto the beach strand at Bastendorff Beach. The sand was frozen and was like concrete in the shady parts but the day would warm up to nearly 50 degrees. It felt like spring!

The tip of Yoakam Point
I was bringing up the rear of the group and John was in front and since he had never been on this route before, we wandered aimlessly (until I caught up to him) through the unofficial maze of trails atop Yoakam Point. Generally, we followed the edge of the coastal cliffs but once we hit the homes and back yards above Lighthouse Beach, we backtracked to the proper route with me in front this time. On the plus side, we wound up enjoying views of a coastal segment none of us had ever seen before.

Sunset Bay, from the longer hike
The boardwalk at Sunset Bay Campground was not icy any more but was still dangerously slippery. We all crossed safely by taking mincing little baby steps. After eating lunch with a nice view of Sunset Bay, we split up into two groups as some hikers wanted to get some extra mileage in and some were happy with the basic 7 mile route. Us long-loopers continued on the coastal trail and enjoyed views of the spectacular coastline in the Cape Arago area. On a clifftop section of trail with nice views to Shore Acres, Sunset Bay, the Cape Arago Lighthouse, and Qochyax Island, we turned around and headed back.

This is how we get down!
Edwin, Lane, and I were the only takers on the rope-aided descent down the muddy track to the secret cove. The only problem was, the rope was no longer there and some use of hands was required to make the descent without involuntarily sliding down to the bottom. From there, it was the mile long walk along the beach under a sinking sun. Thus ends our tale of two hikes and "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done" Nope, Charles Dickens just doesn't have any good quotes for hiking blogs!

Bastendorff Beach, at the end of the hike
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flicker albums. Here is the link to the scouting trip and this is the link to the group hike.