Thursday’s afternoon and evening misting rain turned to a heavy rain shortly after crawling into the tent for the night. When we woke the next morning it was still coming down, and hard. We had known this would be the case, so it wasn’t as big of a deal as it could have been. We had planned for it. Hard core rain gear, extra layers and we set out for a bit of hiking. I wanted to take Mark into one of my favorite coastal state parks – Oswald West State Park. The man the park was named after was the 14th Governor of Oregon and responsible for the first part of making sure Oregon’s coastal beaches remained public for all time. The second part of that process was handled by Governor Tom McCall nearly fifty years later after a hotel not far from where we were staying on our trip found a loop hole and tried to privatize a strip of sandy beach. It’s a fun bit of Oregon history and I for one am grateful to those men and the ones who worked with them to make sure that Oregon’s beaches would remain completely public.
Oswald West State Park is an amazing State Park. It is not overly developed. The one walk in camping area was closed several years back after some very old spruce trees started coming down, one landing on a tent that had just moments before been vacated. It wasn’t deemed safe after some arborist’s checked out the remaining trees around the camp and so it has turned into a day use area. I am saddened by this is a way, because I never managed to camp there, the one time I tried it was filled up and I had to change my plans. In another way, the area could use time to recover, for the now downed logs to become life-giving nurse logs and for the forest to grow back up in the area that was once the campground. Maybe some day it will be safe again, maybe not.
The hiking in this park is magnificent. There is the hike up to the top of Neakahnie Mountain or out to Arch Cape, both of which I will have to take my husband on another time, since they were socked in by low clouds, fog and mist the day we could have hiked them. Instead we stayed low, following the trail along a creek, past ancient Spruce and Western Hemlock and a few Cedars. Their feet adorned with the lush and rampant greenery of salal, huckleberry, sword and deer ferns and many other coastal forest plant. The creek rushed down through boulders, over small falls, around old root balls of trees and down into the pounding surf of Short Sands beach in the amazing Smuggler’s Cove. Waterfalls rush off the coastal cliffs and down into the cove further north of where the trail reaches the beach and you can see the waves that draw the crazy bunch of hearty Oregon surfers on other days. But on this day we had the place to ourselves. The only car in any of the trail head parking lots, the only people on this day willing to go out into the pouring rain, where we began to drip as much as the moss covered trees around us.
We only took a few pictures because of the heaviness of the rain and the non-waterproofness of our camera. The rain was driving in so hard when we were at the cove there was no good way to take a picture. Even later when the rain turned back into a heavy mist and we headed to Cannon Beach to visit the small local history museum and find some hot coffee, the camera didn’t get too much use. What pictures I have from our hike in Oswald West State Park I will share with you here and in the next edition I’ll share about our time in Cannon Beach on the same day and how driving to see if the tide was out enough yet for a good walk can lend itself to awesome surprises…