Thursday, June 28, 2018

Second Sunset

(Continuing the recap of my Southern Oregon Coast trip in late April....)

After a very rainy second day, I had low expectations for sunset.  Near dinnertime, the skies finally dried up, but thick clouds persisted.  Thinking the night's sunset would be a bust, I almost didn't venture down to the beach.  But my clothes had finally dried from the afternoon's hike, and I didn't want to sit in my yurt all night.  Besides, I was here to see the sights, no matter the weather.

A touch of pink light

Gathering my now-dry camera gear, I made the short walk to Harris Beach.  Wildflowers bloomed along the path, water droplets still clinging to their petals.

Lovely white wildflowers

After exploring the northern end of the beach the previous evening, tonight I chose to wander in the opposite direction.  I was surprised to see houses perched on top of a bluff overlooking the ocean.  Obviously I wasn't in wilderness here, the park was adjacent to Brookings city limits.

Waves on the sand

Although cloudy, the skies shone with a muted pink light.  Reflecting on the wet beach sand, it made for some photo-worthy images.  I snapped a couple of photos to capture the scene.  With the heavy cloud cover, I thought that might be the best light I'd get.

Golden skies

However, I couldn't have been more wrong.  About an hour from sundown, the clouds suddenly began to part. 

Interesting clouds

The partly cloudy skies began to turn a stunning shade of gold.

A faint rainbow!

As I looked back towards the developed bluff, I spotted a faint rainbow hovering over the houses.  Who would've thought?

The sky colors reflected on the sand

The purple-pinkish-orangish light that reflected from the sky onto the beach was quite lovely.

Beach patterns

As was the sky color reflected in crashing waves.

Dropping sun's last rays

I found a group of offshore rocks that looked like a good background, and waited for the sun to drop.

Orange ball

Slowly, the sun's orange ball sank towards the horizon, casting rays out from beyond the clouds as it made it's journey downward.

Going down....

Watching the sun set on an ocean beach is such a peaceful experience.  With one last orange gleam spreading across the sea, day transitioned into night.  I lingered afterwards, capturing the final sky colors reflecting on wet sand.

Last light on the beach

Time for another night of rest in my dry, cozy yurt.  The weatherman promised a rain-free day tomorrow, so hopefully I'd finally get a chance to explore the gorgeous Oregon coastline north of Brookings.  Which I'll cover in my next couple of posts.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rainy Day in the Redwoods

(Continuing the recap of my Southern Oregon Coast trip in late April....)

Everyone thinks redwood trees are only found in California.  Well, guess what?  Oregon has a grove of its very own.  Thanks to a turn in the weather, I discovered this on the second day of my Southern Oregon coast trip.

Wet yurt

After a fun evening exploring and photographing the sunset at Harris Beach State Park (see post here), I settled for the night inside my cozy yurt.  I awoke later to the sound of rain pounding on the roof.  The drenching continued for the remainder of the night, and when I woke the next morning it was still coming down.

Twisted, mossy branches

Lucky for me, Oregon State Parks builds their yurts watertight.  Nothing leaked through it's heavy canvas roof, and the wooden floor kept me high off the soggy ground.  My yurt even had electric heat, which kept me snug and warm despite the damp, chilly weather.  I felt mighty thankful for my accommodations after overhearing a restroom conversation from a group of tent-camping young ladies complaining about flooded tents and soggy sleeping bags.

Interesting leaves

But.....the wet stuff continued to fall well into morning.  Waiting it out in my yurt, I read a book I'd brought along.  But after a couple of hours cabin fever set in.  I didn't travel this far to sit inside all day.  There were places to explore!

Raindrop-soaked purple flower

Shortly after 10, the rain tapered off enough that I felt comfortable venturing to the beach.  Dodging huge puddles, I took a paved path that led down to the northern portion of Harris Beach.  Although I took lots of seascape photos, crummy light meant none were good enough to post here.  I did, however, make a couple nice images of some lovely purple flowers, twisty tree branches, and an interesting leaf pattern that made the final cut.  :)

Riverview Trailhead

But as I was heading back the rain struck up again.  Ugh!  I lost time sitting in my yurt for another hour drying off wet jacket and boots.

Chetco River

Originally planning to tour the Samuel H Boardman Scenic corridor, I wasn't real enthused about exploring ocean vistas with cloudy skies and rain.  However, I then remembered a recommendation from the camp host.  While checking in the previous afternoon, the camp host enthusiastically gave me a rundown of the local sights.  She happened to mention a redwood grove - the only one in Oregon - that was only a short drive from the campground.  Although rainy days aren't good for ocean photography, they're perfect for capturing mossy, green old growth forests.  In an instant my plans changed.

Moss-draped trees

The redwood trail was only a 2.5 mile loop, so I studied my hiking book for nearby paths.  Another trail following the Chetco River from nearby Loeb State Park connected nicely with the redwood trail, for a perfect 4-mile ramble.

The river was a unique shade of blue

I found Loeb State Park via a quick 7-mile drive east of Brookings.  The trailhead was easy to find, although nearly deserted on this rainy afternoon.  And while unloading my backpack, tiny raindrops began to speckle my jacket.  Uh-oh!

Redwood Nature Trail

But I'd come prepared to hike in the rain, and pulled pack covers over my backpack and camera bag.  Now to find those big trees!

Lovely, mossy creek

The riverside trail was lovely.  Paralleling the wild and scenic Chetco River, I was enthralled by it's unique aqua blue color.  Moss-draped trees and huge ferns lined the path with wildflowers, mostly bleeding hearts and monkeyflowers, brightening the greenery.  Despite the falling precip, this scenery often inspired me enough to pull my camera out of it's dry haven.

First redwood sighting

A mere 0.7 mile jaunt took me to a road crossing and a signboard announcing the beginning of the Redwood Nature Trail.


Only one other car was parked in the tiny gravel pull out and I met it's occupant as I strolled past the trailhead information sign.  I wouldn't see another soul the entire hike.

Fungi on the tree

I knew this trail was a loop, but only seeing one trail, I followed it into a lush green forest lined with ferns and other vegetation.  A mossy-bouldered creek burbled nearby.  Although there were no redwoods in the vicinity, I no sooner crossed the creek when I spotted my first one.

Huge log on the forest floor

What magnificent works of nature!  These redwoods rose skyward, their tops seeming to vanish into the clouds.

Line of redwoods

I loved the bark patterns, and delicate green needles of these grand trees.

I loved the views looking up

Of course, the mist that had followed me from Loeb State Park began to morph into more serious rainfall.  My camera began to get wet, and from repeated trips in and out of the bag, the inside of my camera bag began to also get damp.

The tree on the left was especially huge

The weather began to seriously curtail my photo-taking.

Hard to capture the redwood's grandeur

Still, it was a treat to walk amongst such giant trees. 

This downed log came up to my waist

There weren't any people around to use for scale comparison, so you'll just have to take my word that these trees were humongous.  The downed log in the photo above came up to my waist.

Waterlogged Trillium

Of course there were lots of wildflowers thriving in this forest. I captured a couple of waterlogged trillium blooms and the above photo was my favorite.  I also spied some interesting fungi growing on some of the trees, and attempted to get a few shots of it (before my camera got totally soaked).

Mossy bridge

The trail meandered through a huge grove of redwoods before winding back down to meet the parking area and road.  By now, it was raining hard and my boots, jacket and pants were dripping wet.  Time to get back to my warm, dry car.

World of green

So I retraced my steps back along the Chetco River.  Even on a rainy day, the river views were quite lovely and I made a mental note to return again, hopefully in drier conditons.

Chetco River once again

Back once again at my yurt, I hung all my wet clothing in front of the heater, and laid my camera gear nearby.  Rain drumming on the yurt's roof made a pleasant sound, and I settled back with my book to wait for my gear to dry (and hopefully the rain to let up).

Bleeding Hearts

Fingers crossed the evening would be rain-free.  I wanted to try and capture another spectacular ocean sunset.  Would I be successful?  Find out in the next post!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Southern Oregon Coast Adventure - Day One

Ever since traveling the southern Oregon coast in 2015, I've yearned to return.  The ocean scenery visible right from US Hwy 101 was jaw-dropping gorgeous.  Sadly, I was on a tight schedule back then and couldn't spare the time to stop and explore further.  Vowing to return, I planned a trip for last spring.  But conflicts with preparations for a Hawaii vacation forced me to cancel.

Pacific Ocean from Hwy 101

Last December, after a particularly tough day at work, I sat down at my computer, pulled up the Harris Beach State Park website, and impulsively made yurt reservations for late April.  This time I promised myself I'd make that trip - come hell or high water.

My lovely yurt at Harris Beach State Park

And the last week of April I did just that - loading my car with camera gear, food, and camping supplies in preparation for a long weekend of exploring the southern Oregon coast.  After an extremely long 6 1/2 hour drive, I finally arrived at my home for the weekend - a lovely yurt at Harris Beach State Park near the town of Brookings.

Harris Beach

As far south as one can go on the Oregon Coast, Brookings is located just over the California border.  The surrounding area boasts plenty of natural beauty, including picturesque rugged coastlines, lovely wild beaches, plus plenty of coves, capes, and offshore islands to explore and photograph.

Lone fisherman

Photographing this beauty was why I'd traveled here.  After unloading and grabbing a quick bite of dinner, it was time to stretch my legs and warm up the camera.

Evening beach walk

Right away I fell in love with Harris Beach State Park.  Not only was the campground wooded, green and gorgeous, a short trail led me right to the ocean shore.  No driving necessary!

Someone had drawn these perfect circles in the sand

I had a couple of hours until sunset, so I meandered along the beach, snapping images of anything that caught my fancy.  Like a huge area of identical circles someone had raked into the sand.

Mother and daughter having fun

I watched a mother and daughter climbing on the shoreline rocks.......

Seaweed on a rock

Studied the seaweed clinging to a large boulder.....

I could've watched the waves forever

Watched the waves endlessly crash and recede......(so mesmerizing!)


And laughed at a flock of seagull's antics.

Crashing waves

The day had been gloomy with intermittent rain showers for most of my trip.  With the overcast skies, I thought the evening sunset would be a bust.  So imagine my surprise when a half hour before dusk, a break in the clouds illuminated the beach with warm light.

Fantastic evening light

The colors just popped!  It was the most fantastic evening light.  Truly a photographer's dream.

Fading light

Soon the sun began it's journey towards the horizon.  Searching the rocky coastline, I found a place that I hoped would provide an interesting enough background for the colorful sky show to come.

Orange sky

An incoming tide began to swallow up the available beach real estate.  Waiting for the sun to drop, I periodically had to move my tripod further back to escape a drenching by the waves.

A sinking sun turned the sky colors

Soon the sky started to glow in the most fabulous shades of orange and pink.  These colors reflected perfectly on the wet sand.  The sun sank towards the horizon, and I kept snapping away, capturing this wonderful first night on the southern Oregon coast.

Colorful reflections in the wet sand

I stayed out until the last light faded from the sky.  By now the incoming tide had transformed the beach into a narrow strip of sand, so I had to carefully pick my way back to the main road.

Good night!

A great start to my weekend!  Tomorrow I had big plans to explore the beaches, bluffs, and short trails along the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor.  More posts to come, so stay tuned!