After this week of June hiking at Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks in the state of Washington, Hannah and I have come to the northern coast of Oregon to hang out with Hannah’s amiga Patty and her hubby Kent. Patty and Hannah go way back to the College of the Nursing at Arizona State University – Patty, a work study student, and Hannah, before kids, still looking to find her way in the world, as a secretary at the College of Nursing.
We meet at the Surfside Oceanfront Resort in the tourist town of Rockaway Beach, some 90 driving miles west of Portland; I get a Jersey vibe right away. For those of you who have had the good fortune to spend your formative years in the Garden State, there’s a Jersey shore feel to the town of Rockaway Beach. But it’s Jersey shore of 100 years ago – unspoiled, few services, small time, expansive beach, and no Garden State Parkway backed up on Sunday afternoon.
Last night we happy hour-ed together and later enjoyed the best of local pizza from Upper Coast Pizza (their motto is If you want it quick, you have come to the wrong place). Today our mission is to hike along the coast of Oregon after breakfast in. (The Surfside Oceanfront Resort has extensive kitchens in the rooms with a full fridge, dishwasher, oven, toaster, and coffee machine.) There is one mini-mart in town, but for the most part it seems touristos like us bring their supplies from home to hold down the cost of vacationing. Patty and Kent bring their pantry to share with us.
Driving north 15 miles on The 101 through the towns of Nehalem and Manzanita, we come upon the roadside parking areas for the Cape Falcon Trail in the Oswald West State Park. (As governor of Oregon, Oswald West created public access to the entire Oregon coast for eternity.)
At noon on this first Saturday of June with a sunny forecast, surfers and families aplenty are heading to Short Sand Beach. With a trail sign promising 2.5 miles to the promontory point of Cape Falcon along the Pacific Ocean, we four enter the forest and leave the vehicular noise of The 101 behind.
Immediately we are immersed in a rainforest less than a half mile to the ocean. The brown wet packed dirt of the trail is easy on our feet. Muddy, and muddier than we have seen throughout the trails of the Northwest, we find it easy to step to the side and onto the conveniently placed branches and stones in the trail. 60 Hikes within 60 Miles – Portland calls this hike easy. We concur. As such, families will love this wide, flat trail with a modest elevation gain (maybe a few hundred feet).
Able hikers themselves, Patty and Kent set an enjoyable pace as we pair off for conversation. Patty works for Bon Appetit as a culinary magician for the food service at George Fox University. Kent, an accountant by trade, is starting his own business of matching older workers with new opportunities. He lives the saying – Courage is having faith when doubting would be easier.
Keeping up a steady two mph pace, we pass ferns, Sitka spruce, and hemlock which dominate this moist coastal climate. As we hike through this old growth forest, the wind picks up as we get closer to the coast.
At times we are hiking through an eight foot tunnel of thick green leaves. On this weekend Saturday, we have lots of company on the trail, which is a good thing. When we are on popular trails, we spend little time wondering if we are on the right trail and more time seeing if we have a connection with our fellow hikers. Today my opening line is have you seen any falcons? (No one has.) With lots of Ducks in this area (i.e., fans of the University of Nike, oops Oregon), I try to quack them up when I mention my love for all things fluorescent green and yellow.
Approaching the coast, maybe three hundred feet above the families of beach goers and surfer dudes and dudettes at Short Sand Beach, we have ideal temperatures in the 70s. It doesn’t get much better hiking through a sun dappled forest on a dirt trail with old friends. Though unmarked, the trail to the actual Cape Falcon is obviously to the left through a meadow of salal, a shoulder-high shrub.
Once at Cape Falcon we see the beaches to our north but just a bank of clouds to our south. At this point, the Oregon coast speaks Maine to me – sharply angled, steeply dropping cliffs with beaches here and there.
Hiking inland away from the chilly winds of the coast, we find a clearing by the side of the trail for our lunch of turkey, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches and Fuji apples. Though back at the trailhead I had no service on my iPhone, here, hundreds of feet above the beach, I have Internet access. I post two Instagram photos from the trip (Btw, if you would like to get my Instagram photos, request me on Instagram and I’ll agree.)
It’s an easy conversation hike back to the trailhead, which at 3P has cars trolling for a vacant parking spot. We pull out of our roadside parking spot leaving room for another to have the adventure themselves.
While Hannah and Patty thrift shop, Kent catches some zees and I write a draft of our day’s hike for a future blog while it is fresh in my mind. It’ll be happy hour to toast our friendship for the next few years, Mexican food takeout, and watch the recently released DVD McFarland with Kevin Costner (Four stars. I’d give it five if I were allowed. I love me some inspirational movies). Just chilling with old friends.