Thursday, June 17, 2021

Bandon Beach Sunset (fail) Hike

This was intended to be a nice hike on always reliably scenic Bandon Beach with a late start designed to end the beach walk right just in time for sunset. However, high tide was at 7:45 p.m. and sunset was at 8:55 p.m. and I really needed to be on the right side of Grave Point before high tide rolled in. The timing was so tricky that the hike finished about 90 minutes before sunset. At that point, my options were to wait and shiver in the stiff and unrelenting ocean breeze or sit in the very boring but wind-free car for the next hour or so. Actually, there was a third option that I did exercise, namely that of going home and missing the sunset altogether. So, as sunset hikes go, this was a fail but as a late afternoon hike, it was undeniably a rousing success.

Bullards Beach sprawls on the other side of the Coquille

Not every hike begins at 4:30 in the afternoon and like Happy Hour patrons the world over, the day already had that late afternoon glow about it. As I laced up my boots at the Coquille River's south jetty, iconic Coquille River Lighthouse presided over the relatively calm river. On the tip of the north jetty, tourists had walked out to the crumbling jetty's end in a clear temptation of fate. Good thing the surf was placid, for that jetty can be pretty dangerous even on a good day.

The ever sparkling sea

Once I actually started hiking, I pretty much stopped hiking as the sunlight glinting off of the ocean's surface immediately got my attention. The ruffled surface incessantly sparkled like the world's biggest mirror ball and this was too much for an incredibly handsome hiking dude with a camera. After several million photos (so many of the same subject, yet each photo is different) I figured I probably should give the camera a rest and actually do some hiking.

The land route past Coquille Point

The tide was incoming yet low, but not low enough to let me walk in front of Coquille Point. No worries though, a quick scramble through a rocky and sandy gap behind the point made for an easy pass-through to Bandon Beach proper, where the sea glittered in the afternoon sun like so many rhinestones on a country singer's coat.

So much of his hike was about beach and rocks

Bandon Beach is oft-visited and with good reason. The curving bay was full of waves and whitecaps, and numerous islands and sea stacks dotted the silver sea contained within. Some of the islands were pointy and in my mind, resembled my dog leaning against my legs when her neck gets scratched. The islands are part and parcel of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge which serves as an island rookery for seabirds of various specie. The larger islands' skyline were somewhat serrated looking due to the birditude standing shoulder-to-shoulder atop the jagged rocks. Meanwhile, flocks of seabirds floated around the islands like mosquitoes swarming a backpacker, the birds looking for any available square inch in which to stand among their brethren (birdren?).

When the green flag waves

A heatwave was currently baking southern Oregon but you'd never know it at Bandon. While the day was sunny and bright, a strong and cool wind kept things chill enough for me to wear a jacket for the entire hike. The wind had created interesting patterns on the beach with small rocks resembling swarms of speeding atoms in a particle accelerator. There were also small wind-created dunes, stipplings and striations which reminded me of foam floating in a cup of mocha.

And he was never heard from again

Because I wanted to beat the tide at Grave Point, Haystack Rock at the 3 mile mark was my turnaround point. Oof! The hike back to the jetty was headlong into the wind and I walked most of the way back leaning forward like a bodybuilder towing a semi on a rope, ignoring the fact that my musculature and physique more resembles spaghetti cooked well beyond al dente consistency. My legs got a healthy workout though, and that felt good, to be honest.

Art and artist

While hiking, I had run into several mandala-like designs scratched into the wet sand, with most in the process of being reclaimed by the incoming tide. Finally though, I ran into Cheri from Portland, who was the artist responsible for beautifying the beach. She was gracious enough to let me take a picture of her art and a victory pose to go with.

Forever staring at the sun

It was about an hour before high tide when Grave Point was rounded past, and since the tide was still fairly low, no hikers in my party of one suffered any wet mishaps getting past the point. Across from the point and in the ocean, Ewauna (the native name for Face Rock) is forever forced to gaze skyward and surely she must be sunblind by now.

A metallic ocean

I wasn't sunblind yet but there were plenty of sun spots in my vision due to the constant reflection from the ocean. Half the time I couldn't even tell what I was photographing because of the blinding light from the giant fireball in the sky. However, by the time I ended the hike, the onset of sunset was still over an hour away and as previously stated, I didn't hang around until then. It seems wrong to begin a hike at 5:30 or 6:00 in the afternoon but that's what I'll have to do next time if I want to make this a successful sunset hike. 

Texture of a receding wave

For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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