|Sea stacks near Crescent Beach|
I threw the dog and my camera into hubby's truck (he was in China on business, so I got my pick of vehicles). And then I headed west to Ecola State Park.
|Ocean peeks through the forest|
Ecola State Park, on the Oregon Coast, is right outside the town of Cannon Beach, a mere hour's drive from my house. The park hugs 9 miles of gorgeous coastline, meanders through lush Sitka spruce forests, offers amazing ocean viewpoints, and accesses some great beaches. Lewis and Clark traveled through this area many years ago in search of a beached whale.
|Bear takes in the stunning views|
It was nearly 5:30 when I pulled into the parking lot at Ecola Point. I drug Bear to the overlook so I could get some photos of it's famous vista. Looking southward, the view extended across Crescent Beach, it's rugged cliffs and a group of scenic seastacks. Further down the coastline, one can glimpse the town of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, the most well known seastack on the Oregon coast.
|Lots of mud on this trail!|
From Ecola Point, I've hiked the Oregon Coast trail north to Tillamook Head (read about it here). However, I noticed a sign pointing to a southbound continuation of this same trail. Crescent Beach was a mere 1 1/4 miles down this path. Bear and I could handle that!
|Looking down the steep cliffs|
Off went my doggy and I, trudging through muddy woods on a steep narrow path that roller-coastered through a magnificent rainforest. As Bear bounded ahead, I though how nice it was to be hiking with him again. Now well past his 12th birthday, I'd recently curtailed most of Bear's hikes. He tends to tire quickly, and his back legs don't work as well as they used to. But I figured he'd be okay on this short trail.
|Crescent beach scene|
As I meandered through the thick forest, I caught ocean glimpses through gaps in the trees. So blue and lovely, it beckoned me on, through the steep, muddy trail.
Halfway down the path, I emerged into a grassy clearing. And, oh what a glorious view to behold! Crescent Beach spread out below. The sea stacks now looked much closer, and one could see the white waves making interesting patterns as they traveled towards shore. Someone else must have also thought this a wonderful vista, as a wooden bench had been erected here.
|Follow the tracks|
After taking my photo break, Bear and I continued our journey across the muddy track. After leveling out and following the top of the cliffs, the trail suddenly turned and dived steeply down towards Crescent Beach. The final set of wooden stairs that led to the sand were very tall and steep. But finally we had arrived! And Bear and I had the place to ourselves.
|Lots of sand dollars here|
So many photo subjects! Bright pink foxglove flowers bloomed in the grassy steep slopes adjacent to the beach. The sea stacks, so very close now, were lit up by the setting sun. And numerous shells littered the sand. Of course I had to capture everything. And it wouldn't be one of my coastal blog posts without at least one sand dollar photo, would it?
|Beautiful foxgloves lined the beach|
Bear and I walked the length of Crescent Beach, taking in the sights. After a good hour of exploring, I noticed the sun sinking lower, and knew we needed to leave before it got dark. I called to Bear and he met me at the bottom of the steep steps.
Now Bear is a very tough dog. He'll keep going until he drops, with no indication of any pain. Of course, dogs can't talk and tell us when something is bothering them. Still, I should have known ascending those stairs would be difficult for Bear's failing back legs.
|Sea stack reflections|
Bear jumped for the first step. But his back legs failed, missing the step, and he began to fall backward. In an attempt to boost him, I quickly grabbed under my dog's hindquarters. Well, that area must've been quite sore from the hike, because as I pushed my dog, quick as a flash, he turned around and bit me in the face.
|Ripples in the sand|
I was stunned. My left eye immediately began to swell. Hastily, I felt around the area, trying to determine if he'd broken the skin. I didn't detect any bleeding. Then I noticed my glasses lying on the ground. Picking them up, I saw two large gashes across the left lens. My brand new glasses - not a month old, and already they were damaged!
Blindingly angry, I turned to my dog and scolded him harshly. Even before I started yelling, Bear, already realizing what he'd done, cowered down in the sand.
|Spectacular evening light on the coast|
Now what would I do? If Bear wasn't able to jump up the steps, we were stuck on the beach. I wasn't about to try and carry my dog - no telling where he'd bite next! A few minutes passed, and I began to calm down. Maybe Bear was tired and in pain, but we had to try and make it back to the parking lot anyway.
I started up the steps, coaxing Bear to follow. After lingering for a few long moments, Bear gathered himself and made a mighty leap. Although he didn't quite make the step, he was able to scramble on top. The next few steps were not as tall, and slowly Bear jumped each one.
|Frothy white waves|
From there, it was a quick trek through the forest. My eye was smarting and beginning to swell, so I didn't want to linger. Thankfully, Bear seemed to keep up just fine. But coming upon the bench viewpoint a second time, the evening light was so incredible, I had to stop for more photographs. The setting sun illuminated the surrounding vegetation to a stunning bright green. The water shone a brilliant blue. Totally worth the stop!
|Lots of green on the clifftops|
The return trip seemed to take much less time, and before I knew it, my dog and I had arrived back at the truck. Bear gratefully sank into the blanket spread on the seat. I looked my face over in the rear view mirror, and was pleased to see no broken skin. But the area around my left eye was already turning purple. There'd be a nice shiner by morning.
By then my anger towards Bear had dissipated, replaced by concern. Although I knew Bear's hind legs weren't working as well as in younger years, this incident made me realize the extent of deterioration. I shouldn't have taken my old dog on a trail that involved so much climbing and jumping. All that movement had worn him out. Sadly, I realized Bear's hiking days were probably over.
Upon returning to the truck, I almost immediately left for home. By then it was 8:30 in the evening, about a half hour before sunset. But then I noticed the sun was sinking low in the sky. It was illuminating the beach with amazing colors. I couldn't pass up this wonderful light. Grabbing my camera, I headed back to Ecola Point.
|Classic view from Ecola Point|
And I'm glad I did. The best shots of the day were the ones I got of Crescent Beach lit up by golden rays of the setting sun. Such a glorious sight to behold! I almost forgot about Bear's failing legs and my injury.
I'll close this post with my favorite image, a classic view of Crescent Beach, it's sea stacks glowing gold, blue ocean with white frothy waves gleaming in the day's final light. Pure magic!
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday.and Wednesday Around the World. and Friday My Town Shoot Out.