Thursday, 13 August 2009

Hiking on the Oregon Coast

Penelope and I hiked the Pacific Crest trail north out of Cannon Beach OR. The trail winds up from Ecola State Park over Tillamook Head and then over a high point of 1130 ft. and then down into Seaside OR. We hiked a bit more than four miles, a bit past the high point; rather than loosing all that elevation only to have to regain it again on the way back, we turned around and walked back to Ecola State Park the way we'd come. We'd hoped to find a camping spot with a view of the Pacific, or even a path down to the beach. We carried a small tent, sleeping bags, some food, water and a stove; but the approved camping area was in dark dank forest far from the open views. We'd hoped to find a more suitable (if illegal) site further north but did not. Somehow I relished the thought of a night of illegal camping; subversive activity.

Coming from the arid Rocky Mountain west, the dripping dense forests of the Oregon coast seem more foreign than they might have fifteen years ago when we lived in Ithaca. The trail follows the crest of the cliff face which drops off 800 ft and more to the ocean below but the thickness of the growth only very rarely affords even a partial glimpse of the ocean beyond. It felt odd to us to be so close to the edge of such a precipice and to never have a view beyond. Climbing to the rim, only yards from the trail for much of its length here, the drop off was staggering in that it is near vertical and yet is thick with lush overgrowth; ferns, alders and other plants I do not know, and there were even huge Sitka spruce clinging to that absurdly vegetated cliff.

Beyond Tillamook Head we heard a colony of seals frantically barking far below, we never saw them. I could not help but think that one of the great white sharks recently sighted just a mile north in Seaside had stirred the seals into such frenzy.

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