Saturday, March 24, 2018

Heceta Head

"Thanks, Rheo!" is the theme of this soggy and cold blog missive. The weather report had been rather dire with lots of water forecasted to fall from the sky and I had pretty much decided I was not going to go. But then Rheo called and asked me to take her place as hike leader, citing the very convenient excuse of having to recover from foot surgery. That's a pretty lame excuse if you ask me, foot surgery pun intended. At any rate, it was a sparsely attended hike with just 4 other intrepid hikers (and one dog) braving the elements, led by one hike leader muttering "Thanks, Rheo" every quarter-mile or so.

"View" from Heceta Head
When we left Roseburg, it was actually sunny and we were ever so naive and optimistic as we hopped in the cars and headed to the coast. By the time we hit Reedsport, it was obvious we had left the good weather behind. And by the time we hit Devil's Elbow State Park at Heceta Head, we all knew we were in for it, as a steady rain beat a staccato rhythm on the windshield. All dressed up and with somewhere to go, we set out on the trail with a "Thanks, Rheo!".

Heceta Head Lighthouse
A short uphill climb on a wide gravel path took us to Heceta Head Lighthouse and it was raining hard so we just sideswiped that particular attraction and ducked into the woods on Heceta Head. Anything to get out of the rain, even if it meant slogging up a steep and muddy trail. I had eaten a fast food breakfast and right about now, it sat in my stomach like a 16 pound bowling ball n the rack, and I was wondering if I was going to hork up breakfast before cresting Heceta Head. I'm glad to report that no breakfasts were horked on this hike.

A forest hobbits could love
Fortunately, the climb to the top of Heceta Head was finite and I was a happy hiker when I no longer had to haul my bloated bulk uphill. But be careful what you ask for Richard, for the trail off the head was steep, muddy, and slippery enough to qualify as treacherous in places. The wind blows pretty regularly here and the trees were phantasmagorically shaped by the wind, or maybe they were just born that way. At any rate, a brief opening in the forest provided a heavily clouded look to the beach  below where normally there would be an awe-inspiring view, as long as you didn't think too much about the 500 foot elevation gain hiking back from the beach.

"Thanks, Rheo!"
The trail leading down to the beach is whimsically called the Hobbit Trail but the hobbits were all in in hiding or hibernation from the constant rain. We weren't and for some reason, we saw no other hikers out this day, not sure why that was. Once on the beach, miles of wet sand stretched in front of us, the moisture glistening on a darkly gray day. 

Heceta Head, in the rain
About the only good thing about the weather was that the wind was at our backs, which made the rain just a smidge more tolerable. At this point, it was a given that we and our gear were quite wet and it just got to the point that you couldn't get any more wet that you already were. So, it was like "whatever" and somewhere on the beach I began to actually enjoy the hike. Or maybe "enjoy" isn't quite the correct word, "endure" might be closer to it, but I really and truly was beginning to enjoy the endurance of the hike, thereof. Or maybe it was just the early onset of rain-induced dementia setting in.

A bald eagle roosts in the inclement weather
Although we did not run into any other hikers, we did spot some wildlife, most notably that of a bald eagle sitting on a bare branch, totally unfazed by both the steady rain and our presence on his erstwhile lonely beach. He allowed us to not-so stealthily approach and take photos of his majestic birdness. I say he, but he could have also been a she too, I suppose.

Gnarled and twisted, like my feet
We exited the beach at Carl Washburne State Park and normally, this is where we eat lunch. But the idea of gathering around a picnic table out in the open, munching soggy sandwiches, didn't seem very appealing so we just continued on, hiking through woods comprised of trees gnarled and twisted by frequent sea breezes. 

China Creek, in the all-day rain
The hike back to Heceta Head was spent mostly in wet and dripping woods dark and lovely, on a trail that loosely followed Creeks China and Blowout. There was a small pond, formed by a beaver dam, but not all hikers saw it, choosing instead to focus on maintaining footing on a slick trail.

The sign of a good hike
By now, I had forgotten my peevishness at my friend Rheo but I was getting there again, slogging back up and over Heceta Head on a trail that had, if anything, gotten more muddy and slippery while we were hiking on the beach and back. Sure enough, on the way down, my left foot lost footing and I went on about a 10 yard slide on my back down the trail. "Thanks, Rheo!" and this time I meant it. After arriving home, I read an e-mail from another hiking group that had scratched their coast hike this weekend, because "no one would be crazy enough to hike in this weather". Heh, heh, that was not entirely true now, was it? Thanks, Rheo!

The baleful eye of Sauron gazes upon us
Because of the wet weather, I didn't take a lot of pictures but the few that I did take are in the Flickr album.

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