Monday, March 28, 2011

Driving Up the Coast

After our five days at Smith Rock, we made a plan to cross over to the Oregon coast and drive northward, stopping for a couple of seaside hikes and nights spent in cottages. We left Friday morning, rather early, and the drive got off to a rough start as we climbed to high elevation and eventually ending up driving in an incredible blizzard and white-out. As the road lines disappeared under sheets of snow, our speed slowed to a crawl. Luckily, it didn't last too long and we were soon down into rain and generally miserable weather.

With only one or two wrong turns, we eventually reached the coast and, miraculously, the sun came out! Our destination was a hike along Cape Lookout, a point just south of Tillamook, Oregon. We tumbled out of the van and collected our gear. Since time was tight, I shouldered Elise and we set out on the trail. Although it was sunny, the rain had been falling all winter long and the trail was literally a mucky mess. I was wearing my new trail running shoes, which quickly got plastered with goo. Elise chattered in my ear the entire time and exclaimed "great" (with a tone of sarcasm) each time we reached a new section of muddy swamp. She's heard me use the term "great" in response to a situation that's generally distasteful, and continually echoed this sentiment throughout the muddy walk. The hike was 2.6 miles to the end of the cape, and the trail did a fair amount of climbing. But when we arrived, the views were worth it.

The air was warm and some flowers were already in bloom. Elise spotted this flower, salmonberry plants and a bald eagle on the way back.

After the muddy, but pleasant hike, we jumped back in the car and blasted north to Cannon Beach, where we had a cottage reserved for the night. After checking in, we packed up and walked two blocks to the beach to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The beach stretched for miles and the waves were quite forceful. Despite the weather remaining clear, the wind was howling and it was cold. We beachcombed and found a number of shells, and generally just enjoyed the ambiance. Beautiful houses lined the beach and the views were, once again, spectacular.

Pam and Elise with Haystack Rock in behind.

Elise and a friendly little boy discovered a sand bank on which to slide. We had to literally drag her away, despite the cold, windy conditions. This came after she decided she wanted to wade in a small creek.

We had a nice dinner out and all fell asleep quickly. Someone DID NOT want to get up off her little cot in the morning. That's a tired girl.

We jumped back into the van and blasted north to Olympic National Park in Washington. The drive started rainy, but once again the sun came out. We made some more wrong turns (I'm blaming it on our poor maps), but eventually reached the coast and the park. We continued north to a small fishing village outside the park called Sekiu, where we had another cottage reserved. We checked in and Elise was delighted to discover a basket of shells on the table!

One of the two bedrooms. It was old, but quaint and clean.

Again, we jumped back into the van and drove another 20 miles to Lake Ozette and the start of our second hike. We quickly packed our gear and set out on one of the two ocean-bound trails, as our time was once again limited. The trail we followed was three miles of perfect boardwalk and stairs through a very lush, moist forest. The amount of work that must have gone into building it was staggering! It was interesting to watch the subtle changes in vegetation as we neared the ocean.

It was great to finally reach the beach, and we were once again blessed with a miracle - sunny weather! The hike was a loop, and continued down the beach for three more miles. This hiking turned out to be quite difficult, as the walk stayed on the beach and there was a lot of blow-down and rock to navigate around. Regardless, it was beautiful and we collected shells and looked in tide pools.

Bull kelp wrapped around a fallen tree.

When we reached the end of the beach portion of the hike, we discovered a lovely stretch of sand. We were hot from the long, strenuous walk and I decided to swim. It was cold, but very invigorating. We enjoyed a quick lounge on the beach before embarking on the final three miles back to the car. We only wish we'd had more time to relax and enjoy the surroundings, but darkness was setting in. We marched back to the parking lot at top speed, racing the coming night. It was close, but we made it just as dusk settled into the thick canpoy. Did I mention I hiked nine miles with Elise on my back? I was exhausted and my back was aching but, regardless, it was a good day.

We are back in Squamish and rejuvenated after a busy week away from home. Elise starts her next set of swimming lessons today. Stay tuned!


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