Cape Arago Hike

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Today we did a hike in Cape Arago State Park. We started at a locked gate at the day use area and hiked past a “pack trail” sign.

Cape Arago State Park

At first we were on a road:

Cape Arago State Park

Then we were on a trail:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

After about a mile we reached a signless T-junction. We saw a feature on the map to our right called Arago Peak so we decided to see what we could see. We were now on an old road that was brushy in spots:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached a big grassy area, stayed to the right, and kept going:

Cape Arago State Park

Now we were in an old clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

We topped out in an open area in the clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

From here there was a limited view of the area surrounding Coos Bay:

Cape Arago State Park

And some of the mountains to the east:

Cape Arago State Park

We could see a bit of ocean to the west:

Cape Arago State Park

According to the map Arago Peak was further along the road, so we kept going. From this point the road is in really great shape. It’s timber company land and they drive up from the Seven Devils Road to the east. We spotted this cute rabbit ahead of us:

Cape Arago State Park

It turns out there really isn’t much of a peak. We walked past the spot on the map and realized that was it. Not prominence, no marker, no view. So we turned around and went back to the T-junction and continued straight to finish our loop, still following old road:

Cape Arago State Park

The trail was in REALLY bad shape in spots. It appeared as though Friday’s downpour had washed away a lot of soil:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We passed this picnic table which hasn’t had a view in a very long time:

Cape Arago State Park

We also passed the concrete remains of this old WWII bunker. We were dismayed to see the all the vandalism and graffiti here:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We continued following the old road down to the Cape Arago Highway which we crossed. The trail took us through the trees and then to some ocean views:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached the roadside Sea Lion Viewpoint / Simpson Reef Viewpoint:

Cape Arago State Park

We could see and hear the sea lions on the rocks out there. I was glad I had my binoculars. We even saw sea otters frolicking in the ocean! My camera’s zoom lens wasn’t long enough to get a shot of them, but it was cool:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We crossed the highway for the last bit back to the car, and spotted these cool fungi along the way:

Cape Arago State Park

Nice hike! 6 miles, 870′ elevation gain.

Cape Arago Map

Angora Peak

Sunday, November 11, 2018

In the fourth edition of William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range (2016) a new hike appeared: Angora Peak. It is right next door to Neahkahnie Mountain so wither another gorgeous day in the forecast we grabbed a copy of the page from Sullivan’s book and set out on Sunday. Turns out we should have done more research beforehand, and we were in for a bit of an adventure. (Update: Angora Peak is now in the Oregon Hiker’s Field Guide as well.)

This entire hike is on roads, both old and current. We parked at the gate off Highway 101 and set off:

Angora Peak Hike

We hiked through the “beauty strip” buffer of intact trees between the highway and the clearcut. There are some nice trees here!

Angora Peak Hike

And then we emerged into the hideous clearcut:

Angora Peak Hike

As we followed the road up through the clearcut Angora Peak was ever-present to the east:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We saw two hunters heading down and exchanged friendly greetings. We continued hiking up the road:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We turned right and passed a gate onto a road that was pretty grassy in places and didn’t look like it had been used in awhile:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Now that we were getting higher we could see the beautiful blue ocean:

Angora Peak Hike

We could turn around and look back down over the area we just hiked through. That’s Neahkahnie Mountain on the left:

Angora Peak Hike

View to the north. Cannon Beach is out of sight behind those two forested humps, but you can see the tip of Haystack Rock:

Angora Peak Hike

The road climbed up along a basalt cliff. This was a pretty cool stretch. It had gotten very cold the previous night and with the shade we saw patches of frost on the ground:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

At the two-mile mark we reached another viewpoint at a bend in the road. We were high enough now we could see even further north:

Angora Peak Hike

At the viewpoint we saw two hikers heading down and I asked if they had made it to the peak. They said the route had gotten too brushy so they turned back. That worried me a bit, but they were wearing shorts so their tolerance for pushing through the brush would have been low.

We reached the end of road and here is where we went wrong. Sullivan says “At a small cairn of orange rocks just 150 feet before the grassy roadbed ends, angle up to the right on a faint, brushy deer trail that may be marked with red ribbons”. We saw neither trail nor orange rocks nor red flagging and were now at road’s end (not 150 feet before road’s end). We should have backtracked and looked for the trail, but we saw a trail heading off to the right at road’s end and decided that must be it.

Angora Peak Hike

And here’s what that looked like:

Angora Peak Hike

It started resembling an old road. But it was the wrong old road:

Angora Peak Hike

We realized that our route and landmarks were no longer matching Sullivan’s description. After some research on the phone, which included looking at the satellite imagery of our location, we realized that there were TWO old roads. They paralleled each other and we were on the lower (wrong) one. It was also at this point we realized that Sullivan does not take his readers to Angora Peak itself, but a viewpoint that is north of the peak. What a rookie mistake, not reading the description carefully enough! [hangs head]

So it was time for a course correction. Rather than backtrack to the end of the main road, we scrambled straight up the steep slope to reach the upper abandoned road, the one that we should have been on and that would take us to to the peak. Fortunately the forest was not brushy here and other than being incredibly steep terrain we had no trouble getting to the upper road, where we turned left (south) and continued hiking.

We were soon treated to nice west-facing views:

Angora Peak Hike

The road headed south along the mountain face before curving east. It had obviously not been used in a very long time, so we were pleasantly surprised to find it in very good shape:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Looking back down the road to the west and the ocean:

Angora Peak Hike

The road came to a T intersection where we turned left. Suddenly our easy road strolling was over. This stretch was overgrown and in bad shape:

Angora Peak Hike

In some spots the road bed was gone, slid away down the mountain in a landslide. As you can see in this photo, we had to scramble up a bit to bypass the washouts:

Angora Peak Hike

We took a hairpin turn and kept following the road:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

The road passes just below the peak but doesn’t go the summit itself. There is no trail that goes up there, but thanks to a waypoint from a geocacher we knew more or less where to leave the road and start scrambling up. This was another short steep scramble (burning thighs!) and then we emerged out into a summit-like area where there was an open rocky area and some trees. This was not the true summit, but it was very close and good enough for us.

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

A fierce and raging wind was blowing from the east so we used this rock for shelter:

Angora Peak Hike

Looking east out over the Coast Range:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We were very pleasantly surprised to see distant volcanic peaks. Mt. Rainier:

Angora Peak Hike

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams:

Angora Peak Hike

Looking south out over the Nehalem River and Nehalem Bay:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Looking west at the ocean (and straight into the late afternoon light):

Angora Peak Hike

We would have liked to stay longer and enjoy the fruit of our efforts, but the days are short this time of year so after 40 minutes we started heading back down:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We experienced a 40-minute delay for Greg to find a geocache (it required him to do some serious bushwhacking while I turned back and waited on the old road) we continued on. We reached the point where we had scrambled up the hill to join the upper road, and continued along that upper road:

Angora Peak Hike

We took a short side trip to check out Sullivan’s viewpoint, which was pretty nice, especially in the late afternoon light:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

There’s a stone shelter nearby, probably built by and used by hunters:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Continuing along the abandoned road we emerged out onto the main road and looked back. Well no wonder we missed this on the way up. I didn’t take a picture, but the turn from the main road onto the old overgrown road is not remotely obvious. There is no cairn and no flagging and you can’t tell there’s a path or old road there. Once you’re ON it then it’s easy enough to follow, but finding it would have been difficult. Sullivan had provided GPS coordinates for this intersection and we should have used them. Oh well, it all worked out in the end.

The sun was setting fast and it was obvious we would not be back to the car before the 4:50pm sunset. This actually turned out to be ok, though, and I discovered the usefulness of hiking through a hideous clearcut at this time of day: no trees to obstruct one’s view of the setting sun.

Angora Peak hike

Angora Peak hike

Our timing was actually perfect as we were high enough on the road to see the horizon and the sunset, which was quite pretty. The sunset faded right at the point that we were low enough to not see the horizon anymore, but there was just enough lingering light for us to see our way back to the car. I had my headlamp, but we didn’t end up needing it.

Angora Peak hike

Angora Peak hike

Well that was quite an adventure. We managed to cobble together the correct route (more or less) thanks to Sullivan’s book, the topo map, the satellite imagery, geocaches and their corresponding waypoints, and intel from SummitPost (thank goodness we had a data connection).

An interesting side note: my brother-in-law Karl was also up on Angora on Sunday. I had texted my sister that morning to tell her where we were going and she texted back that Karl was also hiking on Angora. He got an earlier start than us and is a very fast hiker, plus he was doing some side trips that we didn’t do, so he was ahead of us and we never saw him. In fact, other than the two hunters and two hikers we saw early on, we had the place to ourselves. Quite a welcome respite after the crowds on Neahkahnie the day before!

8.5 miles round-trip, 2,100′ elevation gain.

AngoraPeakTrack

A quick note: this land has changed hands several times but is still owned by a timber company. They allow hunters and hikers in here and let’s help keep it that way. Please practice LNT while visiting Angora Peak.

Neahkahnie’s North Side

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Greg and I drove to the coast today for a three-day weekend and WOW did we luck out with gorgeous weather! We have hiked the trail up Neahkahnie Mountain’s south side several time (most recently in January) but today decided to hike up the south side. Lots of other people had the same idea and we had to lurk like vultures in the trailhead parking area and swoop in to take a spot as someone left.

The first stretch of trail has some open areas that allowed us to see the ocean:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

That’s Cape Falcon, a hike we did in January:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

The trail is in pretty bad shape. It’s badly eroded with lots of exposed roots:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

And in places where people have cut the switchbacks, the trail is eroding down the hill:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

After a 2.3-mile hike up the mountain we made it to the top, where we scrambled up the last little bit to the rocky summit. On this beautiful day we were definitely not alone. There were so many people up there it sounded like a crowded restaurant. But the view was fantastic. This is the iconic view looking south along the coast at Manzanita, Nehalem Bay, and beyond:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

After hanging out on the summit for awhile we headed back down. To our surprise we passed several groups heading up, probably to watch the sunset from up there. I would NOT want to hike this trail in the dark. It is just too rough. As we neared the end we were awash in golden light from the sinking sun:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

We headed south on Highway 101 and found our Airbnb, and octagonal-shaped cabin between Nehalem and Manzanita. This place was great! What a perfectly cozy place to hang out with a book next to the fire. We would definitely stay here again.

Newport Weekend

Greg and I spent President’s Day Weekend in the Newport area. We drove down Saturday and stopped in Depoe Bay for lunch. The weather was pretty cold, wet, and stormy.

Depoe Bay

After lunch we went out to that spit of land you can see the in the previous picture. The waves splashed against the rocks and the air was filled with water:

Depoe Bay

We drove south and stopped at Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. The weather was really deteriorating by this point:

Stormy Day

Even though we had plenty of daylight left, the weather made us want to be inside so we headed to Beverly Beach State Park and checked in to our yurt:

Yurt

Yurt

Yurt

We spent the rest of the afternoon inside, reading and being warm and dry. We were very close to the beach and I went out there for sunset but lasted about 30 seconds in the cold wind before beating a hasty retreat back to the yurt to make a nice hot dinner on the campstove:

Beverly Beach Sunset

Sunday morning the weather was a little less awful. After a leisurely morning we took a walk around the campground. It’s a huge campground, but most of it was closed off for the season.

Fungus

We drove into Newport and had lunch at Mo’s. It started hailing after lunch so we didn’t really want to be outside. We headed over to the Hatfield Marine Science Center where they have an octopus as well as tidepool replicas you can see.

Octopus

Tidepools

The wind was not letting up and it was pretty miserable outside. So we went to a coffee shop and hung out for awhile, drinking warm tea and reading. Afterward we went down to Nye Beach to find a geocache and got a view of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which we would be visiting the following day:

Yaquina Head

One last glimpse of the stormy windy weather at Nye Beach before heading to Rogue for dinner:

Nye Beach

Nye Beach

Monday’s weather was much better weather with less wind and more sun. We headed to Yaquina Head where a 93-foot-tall lighthouse from 1873 still stands:

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We went down to the stairway to Cobble Beach, seen here from above:

Cobble Beach

Our timing was good and we were able to see the tidepools:

Cobble Beach

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

The other cool part about this beach are all these polished stones. When the waves wash over these rocks it makes the COOLEST sound. The beach was protected from the wind so we sat there enjoying the warm sunshine and the sound of the stones:

Cobble Beach

Cobble Beach

After that we climbed Salal Hill, which has a pretty great view. But the wind was picking up so we didn’t linger up there:

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

View

Salal Hill

We stopped at Cape Foulweather:

Cape Foulweather

Then we had lunch in Depot Bay at the Sea Hag. The weather was a lot sunnier than it had been two days earlier. We stood and enjoyed the waves for awhile before heading home:

Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay

Video:

Cape Falcon

Greg and I spent the holiday weekend at the coast and after hiking Neahkahnie Mountain on Saturday we decided to hike out to Cape Falcon on Sunday.

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From the trailhead we ducked under Highway 101 beside Short Sand Creek:

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Then we followed a nice wide gravel path down towards the beach.

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There are some incredible nurse logs/stumps here:

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After half a mile we reached Short Sand Beach at Smuggler’s Cove. At this early hour (9:45am) there was hardly anyone around, mostly just a few surfers.

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There’s a cool waterfall at the far end of the beach:

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We continued on the trail, which winds its way up and around and out to Cape Falcon. Shortly after leaving the beach we started encountering mud. SO. MUCH. MUD.

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There were mud-free stretches…

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But otherwise we spent a lot of time navigating stuff like this:

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We reached the end of Cape Falcon and sat down to enjoy the view. It wasn’t very windy and it was actually surprisingly warm, ranging between 65 and 70! I was only in short sleeves at one point! Although we’d had totally clear skies at Short Sand Beach earlier, the clouds had rolled in fast. We had a few brief moments of sunshine when I took this photo of Neahkahnie Mountain:

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But after that it was cloudy:

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I believe this is Rock Mountain. Ugh, what an eyesore. 🙁

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My brand new boots were christened by the mud:

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At one point a bald eagle went soaring by. I only got one poorly-lit shot as it sailed by, but that’s ok. It was a VERY cool moment. 😀

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We also saw a coast guard helicopter go by. I don’t know if it was related to the rescue at Hug Point north of us; the timing didn’t seem right. The news reported that the guy called for help at 11:50 and we saw the helicopter cruising south at 12:15.

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After enjoying the view for awhile we headed back. The trail passes high above Short Sand Beach, but there is a boot path that heads down there. We followed the boot path to find a geocache, then decided to keep descending down to the beach, rather than scramble back up to the trail and navigate Mud Alley. Here is a view from the boot path looking out over the beach:

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And then, well, it wasn’t fun. We had a heck of a time navigating the final 30 feet down to the beach. I didn’t take any pictures, but here is a photo from earlier in the day at high tide. We were off to the right of that waterfall, and the dirt hillside gives way to a sloping rock wall down to the sand:

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The rock wall was steep and wet and we had a hard time finding a safe place to descend. We ended up sliding down on our butts. I DO NOT recommend this route. We walked to the far end of the beach where the trail was

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Then we sat on a log and enjoyed people-watching, dog-watching, and wave-watching. It’s a nice little beach down there, protected from the wind.

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Back at our hotel in Manzanita that afternoon it was so incredibly cloudy at sunset that I didn’t bother going down to the beach at sunset. I couldn’t see any color and it seemed like it was going to be a bust. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window 20 minutes later and saw a smear of pink on the horizon. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the beach and post-sunset display was going on. Neato!

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Considering that just a few days later the coast was experiencing stormy weather and huge waves, I feel lucky that we had such awesome gorgeous weather while we were there.

Video:

Neahkahnie Mountain

Greg and I spent the holiday weekend at the coast and man did we hit the weather jackpot! It was gorgeous and warm all weekend. I could not believe our luck. We drove over on Saturday morning and went straight to the south trailhead for Neahkahnie Mountain where we were the sixth car at 10:30am. Then we hit the trail for the 1.5 mile hike to the top. We saw this super cool fungus. I’ve never seen this one before:

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Heading up through the trees:

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This trail has a big problem with hikers cutting the switchbacks. There’s a sign…

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But of course signs don’t work. Here is one of the numerous spots where someone (park staff?) has put down a bunch of branches over a big eroded area that was used to cut the switchback. We saw a lot of this.

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This trail needs some work. It has become badly eroded with a lot of exposed roots:

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Man, there was a lot of lichen here!

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We scrambled the last bit up to the summit and for a few brief moments we had the place to ourselves.

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Cool clouds to the west:

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The summit benchmark is so battered that it’s almost unreadable now:

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We had only been there for a couple minutes before people started showing up in droves, but we stayed on the summit for about 45 minutes enjoying the view, the sunshine, and the almost total lack of wind. On the way down we passed a whole bunch of people heading up and we were glad we got an early start. We also passed a hiker heading up who was barefoot. That did not look fun. As we drove out we counted 26 cars at the trailhead.

We had lunch at Left Coast Siesta (highly recommended) then checked into our hotel (the Inn at Manzanita) where sunshine was streaming into our room. Wonderful!

Inn at Manzanita

Then went for a walk on the beach, where we could see good ol’ Neahkahnie to the north.

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Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Back at our room afterward we enjoyed sitting on our little deck with hot tea. Ahhhh, this is the life!

Steaming cup of tea

That evening we were treated to an amazing sunset:

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Video: