Why, plan a long weekend hike-o-rama!
|Ocean view through the trees|
Of the four days I had free, I hiked three of them. First up, on the 4th itself, was a trek around Cape Lookout. I'd been jonesin' to get back to the coast, and after seeing a post on Facebook showing the wonderful views from here, I decided it would be first on my agenda.
|My doggy is rarin' to go|
Cape Lookout is a narrow cliff-edged peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Located just south of the town of Tillamook, it's a mere hours drive from my house. There's a well-used state park campground nearby, which shares the same name.
|Lovely purple trailside flowers|
It was a 2.5 mile one-way trek to the cape's western end. Wanting more of a hike than a mere 5 miles, I also planned a second side trip down to the nearby beach.
|Lots of huge trees here!|
After losing Bear the last time he joined me on a hike, I was reluctant to bring my dog along. But Bear's persistent whining and sad doggy eyes won me over. Since we'd be hiking on a narrow peninsula, there weren't many places he could get lost. But I wasn't taking any chances. To start out, I kept Bear leashed. However, I soon relented, realizing he wasn't going anywhere. I think Bear learned from our last outing. I'm happy to report he behaved perfectly, always staying within sight and never venturing too far ahead of me.
|North side view from the cape|
My trail began on the southern side of the cape, in a dense forest of old gnarly spruce and hemlock trees. Ferns and salal bushes added to the jungle-y atmosphere. After a half mile of hiking, I was treated to a stunning view of the sparkling blue Pacific. Continuing on, the path provided a few more peek-a-boo vistas between gaps in the trees.
Hikers are then directed to the north side of the cape and another stunning viewpoint. This overlook gives glimpses of coastline to the north of Cape Lookout. Three Arch Rocks were visible waayyy out on the horizon. Closer in, I could see Netarts spit stretching out across the bay, and watched waves crash at the foot of steep rocky cliffs, directly below.
|A boardwalk was provided in muddy places|
Then it was back into the woods, through more groves of huge old trees. This thick forest provided welcome shade. It also created some swampy areas. The dense vegetation prevented sunlight form getting through, and the soil never dried out. A wooden boardwalk covered the worst of the mud.
|The very tip of Cape Lookout is a popular place|
Our path then led back to the southern side of Cape Lookout, to an open trail perched precariously on top of a steep cliff. While the wind was blowing strongly on the north side, here it had totally died down. That meant the sun, which was getting higher and hotter, beamed down upon us unfortunate hikers. And if you're a black dog with thick fur, it didn't take long to heat up.
|Wonderful view from trail's end|
Poor Bear was panting heavily and looking for shade, any shade. I had a bottle of water in my pack for him, but thinking we were close to trail's end, decided to wait until we arrived to break it out. But then I got distracted by some pretty flowers growing on the cliff below and tried to get some shots. And then the trail passed by some truly magnificent viewpoints that begged to be photographed. Bear waited patiently for me to finish my photo sessions, but if he could talk, he would've told me to hurry up.
|"I was here" photo|
Finally, Bear and I arrived at trail's end, a patch of dirt with one small bench. Cables were strung across the clifftops, an attempt to prevent people from getting too close to the edge. There was only one other woman there, laying across the entire bench, so Bear and I sat down in the grass nearby. I gave my poor doggy all the water he could hold, and then shared my PB&J sandwich.
|Amazing blue sea|
Oh the scenery was spectacular! The Pacific Ocean spread out on three sides, calm and amazingly blue. I watched seabirds on the cliffs below, darting in and out and soaring above the water. A few flowers were still in bloom. A great lunch spot.
|My hot, tired doggy heading back|
Of course, a place like this doesn't stay vacant long, especially on a holiday. I'd no sooner finished my sandwich, when three large groups of people and dogs descended upon this small clifftop. Things got crowded real quick. One group had a big golden retriever who I could tell was hot and thirsty. The owners only had one small water bottle to share amongst their group, so I gave the poor dog some of Bear's water. The people commented they didn't realize the trail was going to be so long (obviously they didn't notice the trailhead mileage sign).
|Dainty purple blooms|
Having had my fill of crowds, Bear and I started back down the trail. The scenery was just as fabulous the second time around. But it was a hot trek back across the exposed clifftops and Bear wasn't too pleased that I kept stopping and snapping yet more photos.
|Beach view near the trailhead|
Finally, we ducked back into the wonderful cool forest. Approaching the north side, the wind kicked up again. This cool breeze was most appreciated! Afternoon light shining on the coastline made for some stunning colors. I enjoyed even better vistas as I made my way back to the car.
|Another great coastline vantage on the road home|
By the time Bear and I reached the parking lot, I realized my dog was done with hiking for the day. The heat had totally zapped his energy. So I scuttled my beach side trip, loaded him in the car, and headed for home.
But before leaving the coast, I made one final stop at a paved pullout down the road. From this perch, I could see north to Neahkahnie Mountain and Three Arch Rock. The wide, sandy beach spread out below. Frothy white waves crashed onto the shoreline. Photo ops don't get any better!
Who needs fireworks? This was a perfect way to spend the 4th of July.
(P. S. Stay tuned for my next post and see where I go on hike-o-rama, day two.)
Linking to: Share Your Cup Thursday and Weekly Top Shot.