Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Blacklock Point

Of the six hikers in our little group, only I knew the secret route to a hidden epic viewpoint overlooking the Oregon coast north of Blacklock Point. Naturally, it was incumbent upon me to lead us all on a scrubby and cliff-hugging journey to Mother Nature's observation deck. As we worked our way through cruel growths of scratchy brush, somebody asked "Are you sure you know where you are going?" and my cruel heart was immediately gladdened. Nice to know I still have the touch, even on a hike that I was not formally in charge of.

The Oregon coast calls, and I must go

I've been to Blacklock Point like a million times or so and have had plenty of miles in which to experience Blacklock's many moods, ranging from icy windstorms to stifling heatwaves. Today's offering was sunny and mild, with just a hint of windy bluster (just like me!). Given the cool and wet conditions so prevalent on the coast on most any given day, we gratefully accepted the bright and breezy bounty from the weather gods.

The difference between evergreen and perennial, illustrated

Things got off to a little bit of an awkward start when I tried to find the path running behind the runways of nearby Cape Blanco.  A faint track overgrown by thorny gorse discouraged most of us from taking the loop route to Floras Lake and after a brief discussion (mutiny, really) it was decided by majority vote that 1) the hike would be an out-and-back and 2) nobody should follow me down any further overgrown paths that might otherwise arise during the hiking of this hike.

There were whole entire worlds inside the puddles

The trail from the airport to the Oregon Coast is an old road and as is an old road's wont, potholes had formed on the dirt road. And as are potholes' wont, over time they had grown larger and then had filled up with water during recent rainy weather, testing hikers' mettle and determination both. And as are hikers' wont, an unofficial system of footpaths were illegally braided through the brush for the express purpose of walking dry-footed around the bodies of water. While I'm not particularly averse to hiking with wet feet, some of those puddles were large enough to host a yachting regatta, so we used the detours like everybody else.

Light beams slice through the forest

The Oregon Coast Trail basically contours along and atop the coastal cliffs keeping the ocean from overrunning the rest of Oregon. Apart from occasional bushwhacked-to overlooks, most of the hiking was through dense coastal forest, the trees twisted into phantasmagorical shapes by the near-constant sea breeze. It was both dark and light in those woods, with sunbeams slicing through the deep shade like giant light-swords wielded by angry samurais. The air was slightly misted which provided some heft to the sunbeams and I soon lagged behind, completely engrossed with the light show.

The footing was treacherous on this bridge

After a walk of several miles, made slightly longer by side trips to several coastal overlooks, the trail dropped down to a small creek. There usually is a small wooden footbridge spanning the creek but given the proclivity of winter rains, the span is often transported downstream in one piece or sometimes in many pieces. On this day, the rustic bridge was found intact but downstream. A test step revealed that the small span was somewhat slippery so I opted to just get across the creek with one long-legged stride.

Hiking on a beautiful day

We ate lunch on the beach, sitting on driftwood logs while debating whether to continue walking on the beach all the way to Floras Lake. The tide was receding but the sea was still an angry seething cauldron of turbulent water and there was not a lot of beach between watery maw and unyielding cliffs. Several years ago, a hiker and his young child had tragically lost their lives there so our consideration was indeed somber and serious. It was eventually decided to turn around and catch Blacklock Point on the return leg.

Life on the edge

So, it was back the way we had come, through the same old dark forest accentuated by the same old bright sunbeams. Halfway back to Blacklock Point, I led my gullible and trusting comrades on the previously mentioned bushwhack venture to the epic viewpoint. From atop an ochre colored bluff, cliffy ramparts marched in stately procession for many miles north before fading into the misty distance. Waves continually broke at the edge of the vast blue ocean and nearby rocky Battleship Bow imposed its bulk and will upon the beach below. As a bonus, a small waterfall trickled over the cliff's edge and splashed onto the beach below. The awesome scenery was well worth the many aspersions cast in my direction to go along with the scratches.

See Blacklock Point?
Me, neither!

At Blacklock Point, we only had a few minutes to enjoy the view of the craggy point and its chain of rocky islands. While we were there, a fog bank rolled in from the ocean and within minutes, Blacklock Point was just a ghostly outline in the mist. I'll have to add thick fog to the catalog of weather conditions I've experienced at Blacklock Point. From the point, it was a perfunctory hike back to the trailhead, bypassing the familiar potholes and puddles. Hearts were gladdened by today's endeavor and also by a stop in Bandon for some restorative ice cream.

The day completes the transition from blue to gray

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