Archive | January 2018

The Oregon Coast in January

The Oregon Coast scenery and landscape is always changing. The phrase, “the shifting sands of time” makes sense once you’ve actually seen sand shift. With the recent winter storms, the sands have certainly been shifting at my favorite coastal destinations, Cannon Beach and Tolovana Beach.

New Year’s day at the coast was warm and sunny. The sand was wide, golden, soft, dry and deep. The bright blue sky and fluffy clouds, along with the sparkling blues of the ocean made for a spring-like day. I kicked off my shoes and walked the beach with many others out enjoying the day. There were even kids in their swimming suits braving the Pacific Ocean that day! (…and the Pacific is always cold in this section of the ocean.)

Three weeks later, the coast felt truly winter-like. With high tides, all shades of dark blue and gray stretching from the sand to the horizon and through the sky, with only little patches of clear light sky blue, it felt very much like the winter it is. Along with the darker colors, the constant wall of coast wind and the moments of rain added to chill of winter on the coast. With all the churning, pushing and pulling of the tides, the sand was flatter and covered with thick tumbling sea foam. Needless to say, fewer people were out walking the beach, and I saw no kids swimming!

Despite being warm and sunny, the visibility was not as good as on the cold and seemingly overcast day. From Tolovana Beach, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was visible not on the sunny day, but rather on the cool wintry one. When I went back and looked at my photos, I surprised when I noticed this!

But the sunsets during both visits were displays worth watching. Knowing that the day, while ending here, is just starting somewhere else, is mind expanding to think about. The sun is one of those things everyone around the world experiences and benefits from…

Banks-Vernonia Trail. Washington & Columbia County, Oregon

Stumbling on an adventure. What a great way to start my new year! I am surprised that it is already two weeks into the year and yet, here I am only now sharing my discovery!
While I enjoy a good celebration, I am not a party animal. Going out with friends and strangers, staying out late to party in the New Year just doesn’t do anything for me. At the same time, I didn’t want to just sit home either. Boring!
So, December 30th – that last Saturday before – I was on the Internet looking into renting a State Park cabin or yurt for New Year’s Eve. No such luck. Every one within a couple hours drive from my house was booked. There were several open for Monday night… but! Low and behold! I came across a promotion called: First Day Hike.
Apparently across the U.S. on New Year’s Day select State Parks waive any parking or entry fees and offer free guided hikes with a Park Ranger. The First Day Hikes have been going on for seven years now and seem to be very popular.

After browsing the 22 listed here in Oregon, I decided on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. It is “the first “rails-to-trails” linear state park built in Oregon”  and follows the 22 miles of an abandoned train track between the small rural towns of Banks and Vernonia, with rail tracks now replaced with asphalt. The trail features a paved eight-foot wide trail for hikers and bicyclists along with a parallel gravel and woodchip horse trail.
The hiking group met at the Buxton Trailhead. At the picnic shelter Friends of the State Park had complimentary hot drinks, fruit and breakfast cookies. By 9 a.m. when the hike started, at least 60 people of all ages had gathered. (According to the State Parks stats, 75 people showed up!) The herd of us walked about a mile north into L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park. At couple of points along the way, Ranger Betsy stopped the group to show off points of interest and talk about what we were seeing in the forest.

After turning back, we walked a short distance south of where we started and crossed the Buxton Trestle. It is 700 feet long and runs 80 feet above Mendenhall Creek. Built in 1920, the over one hundred year old train trestle still stands on the original supports. The top portion was converted to a pedestrian bridge a number of years back. It was impressive! I was in awe that train conductors once had the nerve to drive a train across it. After going across with the group, I went back over the trestle again, it was that impressive.

The day was cold, but the sun shone and with layers, the walking warmed me right up. The forest was beautiful with the sun piercing the dense woods. The camaraderie among the hikers was great, and you could tell that Ranger Betsy and her assistants were enjoying the first day of 2018 as much as anyone else. I highly recommend looking to see if there is a First Day Hike in your area! It turned out to be a great way to kick start a new adventure year!