Two Trails

Current Location: Brookings, Oregon 49 degrees and 100 percent chance of rain

At  the moment, it is raining and gray and we are comfortably relaxing in the MoHo.  Just a warning for all the blog purists out there who say they don’t want too many photos.  There are 20 photos in this post, more than I usually add, and yet it IS a photo tour of our trail walks yesterday.  If you don’t like photos, then skip it.  I made them big specifically for Nicki, who always requests the big ones so that she doesn’t have to click to get a bigger image.  You can’t please all the people all the time, but you can definitely please some of the people some of the time!

The predicted rain finally reached Harris Beach early this morning.  We knew it was coming, in fact it was expected to show up on our first day here.  Instead, we enjoyed three days of gorgeous sunshine.  Waking this morning to the sound of rain was soothing, and we actually slept in to almost 7:30.  Of course, it helps if someone gets up at 4:30 or so to let the dog out, give the cat a treat, and feed the dog.  Then they are ready to settle in and let us sleep.  Two Trails_156Yesterday, knowing that our sunny respite was soon coming to an end, we were happy for one more day to walk the beach and hike a couple of the trails.  I know that someday, when I am hopefully much, much older, I won’t be able to hike these nice little trails with their gorgeous views, and decided I wanted to do a “Sherry” and take you on a hike, and give myself a place to go when I want to remember just how lovely these walks can be on a sunny day at the ocean.

A short trail we sometimes forget to do is the Harris Butte Trail. The trailhead is just north of the entry kiosk at the park. The Harris Beach Trail also begins at this location and makes a loop around the tree covered butte, but Mo remembered that there is a lot of poison oak along that trail.  With the dog along, I get a bit paranoid about poison oak, so we decided to skip that route, lovely as it is.Two Trails_091

The short hike to the top has a few switchbacks, is a bit rocky in places, and a bit steep.  The hike takes maybe ten minutes at the most, but the view is wonderful.  The hillside is covered with thick vegetation, with only a few limited views of the beach below through the trees.  developed RAW copies

The viewpoint is a great photo site, especially in the early part of the day when the sun is in the east.  Sunsets viewed from this spot must be spectacular, but for no reason I can imagine, we haven’t hiked up here to view the sunsets.Two Trails_101

Below the cliff where we stood, was a great view of the Harris Beach State Park Day Use Area, the one we walked to Tuesday afternoon.Two Trails_105

This is the best spot to view Goat Island, and we noticed there was a kayak parked on the steep shoreline, with a few people (dots of color) moving across the slope.  It seemed as though they were monitoring vegetation or bird sites or something, with the faint impression of some kind of marking posts on the north facing grassy slope.Two Trails_106

With a bit of searching, I found out that Goat Island is the largest island along the Oregon coast. It was the first unit comprising the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1936. The island contains deep soils and a variety of native vegetation condusive to burrow-nesting seabird species.

Goat Island hosts 24% of the statewide nesting Leach’s Storm-Petrels and more than 109,000 nesting seabirds comprising 11 species. The island serves as a night roost for thousands of Aleutian Canada geese in the spring and a wintering area for a small group (40) of Dusky Canada geese.

In addition, it seems that the biggest problems for the nesting birds are boats approaching too closely, low flying aircraft, and “human trespass”.  I would imagine that the people we saw walking across the slope were supposed to be there, and that kayaking to the tiny beach and exploring the island on foot would be illegal.

Two Trails_129The second trail we walked was our favorite South Beach Trail.  This trail can be accessed directly from the big parking lot just west of Highway 101 near the entrance of the state park. Two Trails_125

In addition, there is a sweet little trailhead that begins at the southern end of the campground. This walk leads through deep spruce forest, and is lined with thick vegetation typical of the moist climate in the Oregon coastal forests.South Beach trail plants

Emerging at the aforementioned parking lot, the trail continues down the steep cliff to the beach below.

Two Trails_130With asphalt pavement on the steep trail, it is a joy to walk, either up or down, and there is a nice bench for a break if you need it.  On this spring day, we were surprised that the park staff has yet to do much clearing along the trail and the grasses and flowers were wild and overflowing and lovely along the path.Two Trails_132

At the bottom of the trail, there are a few logs to walk over, arranged conveniently into a rough step like configuration, and the beach stretches to the north and to the south.  Two Trails_142

We usually walk south, because with the tide out we can walk a greater distance before being stopped by rocky cliffs.  The beach shifts and changes with the winds and seasons, and we noticed that the ephemeral brackish water lake was gone, completely erased by tides and winter storms. The large pool was formed by a small stream, emerging from the cliffs, and the water was fresh enough that Abby could swim and even drink.  Two Trails_144

No more.  Now the stream crosses the sand, circumnavigating the large stacks and going directly to the ocean.Two Trails_158

My Keen Targhee boots did their job and I crossed the stream without getting the least bit wet.  It was just a bit cold for barefoot hiking and wading, so I was glad for dry feet this time.

As I was taking photos, I realized that we rarely do this walk in the early part of the day.  Most of my photos of the ocean from this part of the beach are against late afternoon sun.  It was a treat to have the sun behind me for a completely different kind of light.Two Trails_163

With low tide just an hour or so ahead of us, we saw only one red sea star, too far out to get much of a photo.  There have been times when we have seen more than we can count, along with green anemones.  It is never the same.

This time the most dramatic find was brilliant green moss on the rocks, soft as velvet, and many different kinds of algae covering the sea stacks, still dripping with seawater.Two Trails_179

Just around the corner from the rocky jumble that stopped our walk, is another small beach that lies directly below Mo’s former condo.  Sometimes we can negotiate the jumble, but this time it looked daunting so we didn’t bother.

Two Trails_167We spent a bit of time wondering at how it might feel to ascent this tram, and remembered climbing steps like these to get to the beach from the condo.  Two Trails_175

I am not sure exactly where the state park boundary ends on South Beach, but we assume that once there are homes along the cliff above us we are outside the state park and Abby can run and play off leash.Two Trails_150

Mo threw the ball for her until Abby finally refused to drop it.  I think that was her way of saying she was finally worn out.  For 12 years old she does great, and still loves to retrieve the ball, but she is getting a bit slower.  Makes me a bit sad.  Of course, I am slowing down as well, and that makes me a bit sad too.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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