Friday, October 2, 2015

Oregon Coast Adventures Newport: Beaver Creek by land and by sea.

Oregon Coast Adventures Newport: Beaver Creek by land and by sea.

The Oregon coast is home to a wide variety of parks, camp grounds, lighthouses, waysides, and natural Wonders. As you drive up along the coast you will hit one every 20 minutes or so and I am coming to believe that ALL of them are worth stopping at and spending the day. For one part of this particular trip to the coast my partner and I had managed to reserve a Yurt in South Beach State Park (Just South of Newport near the Oregon Aquarium) and since we had brought our kayaks, we were looking for a good place to splash in and Explore.

Have you ever stayed in a Yurt? Oregon has them in many of the state parks. They are circular one room buildings about 20 feet in diameter. The walls and ceiling are wood beams and lattice with a canvas cover. Inside is wood platform flooring with a fixed position full size bunk bed, a couch (that folds into a bed) and a card table with 2 chairs. There are internal lights and a little electric heater. Cozy. No pets or cooking in the yurt. Outside is a small rain shelter and a picnic table. The picnic table is almost never under the rain shelter, which makes little sense on the Oregon Coast. Anyway, these things are great little “almost camping” structures. In the very center, on the top, covering the 3 foot hole where, if we were Siberian Steppe dwellers, the smoke from our central fire would escape, we now have a clear plexiglass mini dome. You can raise and lower one side of the dome a little to vent the Yurt. You could sleep 4 or 5 friendly adults pretty easily in a yurt. As long as they didn’t snore.  Might have some problem with who has to sleep in the standard twin bunk over the full bed. Last time I drew that straw I just pulled the mattress off the bed and slept in the corner on the floor.  Wait, there aren’t any corners in a Yurt. That must have been in a cabin someplace. Ok, not sure that will work here.

This guy and 2 of his sibs came to visit our Yurt.
I had to borrow a couple of Yurt pictures for you.
lots of room inside !!
Anyway, we had asked the Ranger where we should go to use our kayaks and he said that his favorite place was Beaver Creek. Easy put in at the boat ramp and a few miles of paddling with ample wildlife to visit. He even had a brochure. Turns out the area is named “Brian Booth State Park”. It is just called Beaver Creek. Brian either had money or was a politician. Place your bets while I consult the spirit guides: Well, shut my mouth. Brian turns out to be a cool guy that made a lot of money, helped found the Oregon Coast Trust (for establishing state parks with Lottery money) and then settled on the coast in the town of Neskowin. There is this one too. It made me cry (seriously). 
So, when the state bought the property to set up parks like this, they just naturally named them after people like Brian. I think Stub Stewart Park is another such recent acquisition and naming.

So, after a lazy morning in the Yurt (I made Eggs and Coffee) we took the 10 minute drive down the coast to mile marker 179 and found the very sudden occurrence of Ona beach (on the right) and Beaver Creek (road) (on the left). You may note that the brochure doesn’t really tell you where the boat ramp is. It just says “on North Beaver Creek Road”. It seems to indicate that the landing may be close to the visitor center. This is not the case. The ramp is RIGHT THERE as soon as you get off of 101. So go ahead and park and launch your kayaks. We did.

The boat ramp is only a couple of hundred yards from the ocean (and right next to the 101 bridge) and the creek at this point has more the look and feel of a tidal estuary. But it doesn’t really seem to be all that tidal. The first thing we did was to head toward the ocean to see what was there. Could we paddle out to the waves? At least this time of year the answer is No. Not only can you not paddle to the waves, the river doesn’t even make it to the waves. It just sort of slowly sinks into the sand as you round the corner to the beach. Strange. I get the sense that the beach is acting like a bit of a dam and that action is blocking up the river and creating the flooded low lands that is the Beaver Creek area. Now, it is listed as an estuary, and it certainly looks like an Estuary, but it can’t be tidal. Not at this point. Perhaps during an big storm the surge would come into the area. but I thought that all estuaries had to be actually tidal. The brochure also says that you will find Coho and Winter Stealhead. I think both of those fish need access to the ocean at some part of their life cycle. Perhaps during the winter there is enough water that it clears the sand at the coast and makes an actual tidal estuary out of the creek.

Down near the beach. from the Bridge on our walk.

Paddling back away from the end of the creek (which really stinks, by the way. Too many birds, not enough water flow) we headed back into the estuary and away from the highway traffic noise. Right away we ran into a couple of Great Blue Heron. They squawked at us and did their pterodactyl imitations, but then they posed, real pretty like. My partner got a great picture of one in a pine tree (never seen one in a pine tree before). This first few hundred yards of the creek has a little marsh grass but really doesn’t look like there is much room for water level change. Seems like the water level must be pretty constant. Perhaps when there is more water it all just flows right out of this natural basin. I will try to find out.  Ok. So a study was done. Saltwater only gets into the creek basin during a storm surge which happened 13 times during the year of the study. Not exactly coastal, but apparently enough for US government to call the area an Estuary.

The creek is curving around quite a bit now, sort of working it’s way along the rocky upland area that is on both sides of the creek blocking the direct path to the ocean. A bunch of logs litter this area and make for some nice habitat and interesting kayak paddling.  Here is also where we found Bob, the Cormorant.  The water way stays wide for a mile or so. We ran into a flock of mallards (Either all females or perhaps still immature). I thought we might see some more exotic water fowl, but no such luck. My partner thinks she saw a beaver, though it may have been that other thing that we do not name. Lots of cat tails and marsh grass. After a bit of paddling we passed under the South Beaver Creek Road Bridge and this is where North and South Beaver creeks meet. We went north. Here the waterway quickly narrows to about half the width (which makes sense since we lost half of the creek) and the Uplands part of the State Park comes down to meet the Creek part and they sort of follow each other along. We eventually came to the foot bridge that crosses the creak to a view point on the state park trail system. We will travel there a little later. Right now, we have found that we have pretty much reached the end of our paddle. We could still go further, but we have seen a few signs that say private property and the stream continues to narrow and it will soon be hard to turn around. Besides, at this point things are getting boring since all we can see is mud and reeds on both sides.


Some sort of Cormorant (Bob)

My partner got some great shots


Getting close to nature. I wanted a picture of that dead stick.

We started back and I almost immediately saw a little guy over in the reeds on one side. He was small and long and furry…. hey…. I think he is a river otter. That was cool. We turn the corner (just after the footbridge) and there are 3 of the little guys in the river. They squeaked at us (didn’t those humans just pass here?) and swam over to a little place on the bank where they got up and humped into the darkness. We coasted by and hung out for a while and hoped they would come back out and play. We could see them moving back in the underbrush and saw a curious head and heard some squeaks, but they didn’t come back out. So we continued on back. It was starting to get late and we were still 40 minutes from the car. And, when we turned one of the corners we ran into the force of the coastal wind and had to fight that for a good 20 minutes. As you know, paddling into the wind can be a lot of work. You effectively have to paddle perhaps twice as far.  We did see Bob again on the way out. He hooted to us.

The next day we came back to try the hiking. Though not on the map in the brochure, it turns out that there is a seasonal trail that starts at the park visitor center, crosses the marsh and comes to that foot bridge I was telling you about. From there you can get on the Beaver Creek Loop trail that circles the upland part of the park.  We didn’t much like the hike across the marsh, a little too narrow and trippy, but the island part of the trail is wide and nice and the many side trails are well marked. I would like to go back and hike to the promontory that is marked on the maps. It claims to have a good view of the ocean and marsh from up there. Perhaps I can borrow a link from the interwebs to post here for viewing pleasure. Hey, I found a video !!

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