Sunday, November 10, 2013

Perfect Beach Weekend: Part 3, Cape Falcon

Perfect Beach Weekend: Part 3, Cape Falcon

That is right. Part 3. Cause a Fantasy Weekend has THREE DAYS in it. This day started with one last romantic breakfast at the Scrumptious Arch Cape Inn (no more murders, I promise) and a heavy downright beach-like fog.

My partner informed me that she 'really' wanted to go to see Oswald West and do some hiking. I think she promised me that the sun would come out. Don't worry, I am not that gullible.

View Falcon Point Hike in a larger map

I could find Oswald West on the maps. It got me wondering where Oswald East was. I couldn't find it anywhere. A little bit of research reveals that the park was named after Oswald West, once governor of the state or Oregon. In my view, that is a strange thing to name a park after. I mean, the place has been sitting there for thousands of years and you up and name it after some guy who just happened to have died right around when you acquired the land. Same thing happened with Stub Stewart State Park. It was going to be Hare Canyon State Park, but then good old Stub kicked the bucket and bang, they changed the name of the park. If he had lived just one more year we could have gone camping in Hare Canyon.


Anyway. Oswald West. This is the place of a few cool things, a couple of which we will visit today.

Neahkahnie Mountain

Also called Nekahanie Mountain or Naked Hinie Mountain. Depends on how I am feeling. There is a great view from the rocky summit of Nehalem Bay and the state beach there (where we are going in a couple of weekends). The hike up the mountain from the North end of the park is something my hiking club does every year, but it is not one of my favorites. A lot of slugging on a not very good trail. You can go up on the trail from the south side and it is much shorter and has less tripping hazards.

View from Neahkahnie Mountain. (See, I have to been there)

Short Sands Beach. 

This is the place where all of the surfers go. I mean there were a LOT of surfers there on this foggy fall morning. The 2 parking lots were pretty full. I hear that you really can't find a place to park on a nice summer day because of all of the surfers. And they have like a half mile hike to get their boards down to the water!!

oh, lets do a little logging. What can it hurt?

Cape Falcon. 

I looked all over for some interesting facts about the name for this cape and came up blank. So I am going to make some up relying on the internet to magnify my verisimilitude.

Cape Falcon was named after Captain Falcon, a pirate that sailed the waters from San Francisco to the San Juans. He preyed mostly on ships carrying gold from the San Francisco Gold Rush, but he also would indulge in the smuggling of fine ground coffee from the Starbuck Isles into the strictly anti-caffiene culture of 1840's Oregon. He would land his goods and ill gotten gold into what is now referred to as Smugglers Cove.  One night, during a thick onset of Oregon Coast Fog, he ran his ship aground on the Cape that bears his name. He managed to make it to shore in an open boat with 2 chests of gold and a Grande Latte, but he was caught by Coffee Revenuers out of Tillamook who pinned him down with musket fire somewhere close to Falls Creek.  He was forced to bury his treasure. To this day that gold lies waiting for some innocent hiker to come across and the surf that pounds over the wreck of his smuggling ship still runs brown from the bags of smuggled coffee beans.

 photo CapeFalcon.jpg

So Cape Falcon is the place that we have decided to go to today. Looks like a 2 mile hike out to the point. And since neither of us has ever been there, let's Go !!

The first thing we notice on leaving the parking lot is the Green Green Green. This is major rain forest moss, fern and cedar green. There are two creeks that run through the area and old growth ceder and sitka spruce abound. Take your time on this early part of the hike whist you wind your way down to Short Sands. Take some pictures. They will look like this:

We decide we will wait to visit the beach after we get back from the point, and so set right out. Though I am sure there are lots of people who do this trail bare foot or in flip flops, I actually recommend some good waterproof boots. We come across a number of really muddy places and some especially slippery ones too. Actually the really muddy places are not the slippery ones. The slippery ones are the places where there are rounded river rock (ocean shore rock?) mixed in with the hard mud. Sometimes there are gold coins embedded in the mud, those are really slippery. Here my good old hiking boots are even loosing their grip. Actually, I have probably worn the grip off of them and that is my problem.

Whatever the issue or combination of issues, my partner says I look very graceful as I hit the mud flat on my back. Splat.

“Are you hurt?”

“No, just needed a little rest.” I scramble up. Why do I always have to fall when people are watching? Well, except for those times when I was alone.

“Can I please have the backpack?” she asks me.

What, she thinks I am too old and frail to carry the lunch? Well, I do hurt a bit, and her request is so fraking reasonable. Dammit. I give her the backpack.

You know, it really is much easier to keep your balance on a slippery slope when you aren't wearing a 20lb pack on your high center of gravity back. Now I can just skip along. So much fun.

“Hey, wait for me, Mr. Lightfoot.”

Oops. Sorry.

The first part of the trail from Short Sands is mainly up hill, but not too much. Through a couple of cedar groves, some really nice Sitka and then we come out on an overview dedicated to another dead guy. From here we can seen the surfers spread out all across the …..... well......ok, all I can see is this dense fog bank. But I am sure there are like surfers and such down there some place. And there is this Falcon Point thing that I am sure is just off to the right in that other Fog bank. So lets go.

Dead Guys all over the place out here

From here the trail is following the cliff face. It is very steep too and like 300 feet down to the narrow sandy beach. I think we are going to have a set of switch backs that will take us down there, but no, it seems that we are going to stay up here on the cliffs.

At one point we cross a little stream and a small set of rapids. We can see where it winds away from us and then disappears over the cliff. Must be a nice waterfall over there. Someplace. Perhaps in that fog.

I know there is a good burl story here.

This is that waterfall. And more fog.

Great White Shark Fishing

On some more. Another good slippery part. And then we come to an unmarked T in the road. We head left (West) through the thick growth of blackberry and Salal. And then, Suddenly.... Bingo !! We are there. Falcon Point !! What a great foggy place !!. Looks like it would be a terrific place to be if there was like..... Sunshine. It is very rugged and romantic. We take some pictures and enjoy the sound of the wind whipping around us. Tendrils of fog are blowing up and over the point from the south; streaming by in ghostly tendrils.

Is that…… Sort of … Gold Looking?

We start back. It is still a bit slippery, but halfway back, the fog blows off and the sun comes out and Wow, look at all of those surfers !! Way down there in the.... hey, there is water. And more Cliffs !! What a cool thing.

Blue Sky !!

We make our way down to the beach and lay in the sand for a rest. It is nice and warm in the sun and we watch the surfers out frolicking. After a while we wade through the little creek and have a little hunt for Agates but we don'tt find any. Someday I hope to find a beach other than that one on Ross Island and find some really big agates. Not today though. Today we just get this really awesome sunny view.

And so we are faced with a glorious end to a glorious long weekend. We have climbed mountains, eaten great food, watched glorious sunsets,  explored the history of the Oregon Coast, viewed wonderful contemporary art, and heartily enjoyed the warming goodness of a overly large sunken bath; but now it is time to head home. So we gather up our belongings and head back up the trail to the parking lot by the road. Our trusty Subaru is waiting there to take us back down the long road to home.

Next time we come out here for the weekend, we are so bringing Kayaks.

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