Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bandon Beach 1/2019

I really should know better. It's not like this hasn't happened before. Oh wait...that was yesterday's blog about being attacked by waves near Floras Lake. On this day, the same old high surf warning was still in effect, so heeding the experience from the day prior, I led a small group scrambling over the slippery rocks at the foot of Grave Point because the incoming tide and high surf had taken our beach away. Like I said, I really should know better...but I don't.

Table Rock sets the table for this hike
The day was briskly cool as our group set out on the beach just south of the Coquille River jetty. Sun, mist, and clouds competed photogenically for sky supremacy with the sun mostly prevailing, but not always. Despite the sunlight, the day was still chill and most of us hiked with some jacket or coat on for warmth. The tide was out, but because of the high surf activity, low tide was not all that low. However, we did have plenty of beach to safely walk on while the sea seethed from a safe distance away. What a difference a day and a whole different beach can make!

Some of that amazing Bandon scenery
The high surf first affected us at Coquille Point. Normally, one can just walk around the point on the beach during low tide but on this morn, the ocean was still lapping around the point. However, a well-used short scramble route over the point delivered us to the arcing bay of Bandon Beach. The jumble of rocks and islands always delight and those of us with cameras soon found ourselves straggling behind the speed-walkers who don't care about photography at all.

A furtive peek at Cat and Kittens
Elephant Island has a tunnel boring completely through it and the ocean was busy applying vigorous colonic hydrotherapy to the island, whether the island wanted it or not. Further up the beach was Cat and Kittens, a collection of small islands beyond the waves and an unnamed rock that I euphemistically refer to as "Seal Rock" because it does resemble a seal. At any rate, an entire Noah's Ark of rocks resembling animals were strewn about the beach and surf with Princess Elwauna (mostly known as Face Rock) being the head zookeeper of it all.

Why we hike
Scenery like this is why Bandon is world-famous and why hotels, houses, and condos crowd the clifftops above the beach. It also explains the relative crowds of beach-goers like ourselves out enjoying the sand  and winter sun on a chill morning. Despite the seeming overpopulation, especially when compared to our usual hiking destinations, the scenery commands attention and it is quite easy to ignore the thundering hordes and their abodes. Needless to say, much photography ensued.

Doing the Crooked Creek dance
"Graceful" creek crossing
The recent rains had Crooked Creek full of water as it snaked in serpentine fashion across the sandy beach. Time for boots to get wet although many tried all sorts of leaps and high-steps, some more graceful than others, in a vain attempt to remain dry-footed. Me, I've just learned over the years to simply wade stoically across; it's only water, boys and girls. Still, the interpretive dancelike contortions employed to get across were amusing and much photography ensued, much to the regret of all participants.

High tide moved us up the beach
We turned around at Devils Kitchen, which is where most of the shore and offshore rockery begins to peter out. By the time we had hiked to the Kitchen and lazily consumed lunch, the low tide had become a rising tide. Accordingly, we had less beach for walking on the way back and on more than one occasion, we had to jog away from an incoming wave. On the positive side, the sneaker waves here could not even come close to matching the ferocity of the waves of the day before and thankfully, no hikers were smote on this day. The dryness of our feet were under constant threat, though.

The world's biggest candle
On the return, our group of about 10 hikers or so became strung out and per the natural order of things, I found myself hanging out near the tail end of the pack when a couple of funny things happened. We had hiked, in several instances, on the seaward side of the rocks and sea stacks on the beach when the tide was low. But now, the sea was in the process of overtaking the rocks. That didn't stop Lane from trying to walk around the front anyway and who knew the water was waist deep? Lane didn't but now he did! He had wet trousers and Lane-wet-his-pants jokes as a temporary souvenir of his excursion around the sea side of the rock.

We all should know better
The second point of amusement occurred at Grave Point where the ocean had likewise lapped up against the sheer cliffs of the point. The front (and prudent, too) portion of our hiking group left the beach on a staircase and walked on city streets to bypass the point. But, that's not how I roll! I gauged the situation and decided I could just scramble over the rockpile at the base, warily keeping an eye on the incoming waves wanting to eat me. Several hikers followed me over in blind and trusting faith. Given the situation of the day prior, where I was assaulted by a sneaker wave, you'd think I would know better, but I don't. On the plus side, all hikers got past the point safely and we didn't have to go up a steep flight of stairs either.

The ocean was riled up, to say the least
Once past Coquille Point, it was a sandy beach hike where there was less sand for us to hike on, due to the rising tide. On the seaward side of the rocky Coquille River jetty, the ocean had churned itself into a white frothy bowl of watery anger issues. Large waves rolled up the river, entertaining hikers who had scrambled up to the top of the river jetty at the end of the hike. Occasionally, a wave larger than the rest saw fit to splash us, even though we were on top. Like I said, I really should know better.

Jay tempts the wave gods
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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