Friday, June 24, 2022

Cape Perpetua, Day Two

Day two of my trip to the Oregon Coast and Cape Perpetua began very early in the morning with sounds of rain pounding on the roof of my yurt.  Uh-oh!  I had another hike planned, would it be a wet one?  (If you missed day one, read about it here.)  

Beautiful coastal forest at Cook's Ridge Trailhead

Lucky for me the precip let up around sunrise.  Although everything was foggy and drippy, at least the water wasn't still falling from the sky.  I'd been battling a case of plantar fasciitis on my left foot and yesterday's hike had left it stiff and sore.  But walking to the bathroom and back a couple of times seemed to loosen it up.  Since the weather and my foot were now cooperating, I decided today's hiking plans were on.


Not sure what the sign was referring to, but it sounded impressive

Today's planned trek was a route on three trails in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.  Starting from the visitor center, I planned to follow the Cook's Ridge trail to it's junction with the Gwynn Creek Trail.  From here, I'd take the Gwynn Creek trail to the Oregon Coast Trail and then follow this back to the visitor center.  At 6.5 miles, it was the perfect distance for a nice saunter in the woods.

Cape Perpetua trail map

Since my yurt was nearby I was able to get an early start and had the distinction of being the first vehicle at the visitor center parking lot.  A sign at the trailhead informed hikers these trails were part of the "Old-Growth Forest Network" - whatever that was.  Anyway, it sounded impressive!

Fancy fungi

My day's trek started out in another lush coastal forest full of all things green.  Steadily climbing uphill, I noticed many varieties of unique fungi sprouting from trees, both dead and alive.

Bleeding hearts

And of course there were wildflowers too.  Copious amounts of pink bleeding heart flowers draped over the undergrowth.

Lone trillium by a bench

And I spotted one lone soggy trillium by a trailside bench.  Little did I know there would be plenty more of these to come!

World of green

At a half mile in, the trail forked into a loop.  Hikers had the option of choosing to veer left or right, knowing that the trails would merge again in a short distance.  On a whim, I chose the right hand path.  I climbed up through lush fern-y forest for about 3/4 of a mile before reuniting with the trail.

Tiny fungi

The forest was still very much dripping from the night's rain.  Fog lingered amongst the trees.  But as I strode away from the loop junction, a ray of light sliced through the fog and illuminated a small portion of the forest.  Such lovely light, it warranted a photo stop.

Nice light on the forest

And then I came to the trilliums.  Hundreds of these lovely white flowers carpeted the forest floor.  Many looked like they were a bit past peak, so it was lucky I'd chosen this day for my hike.  

One the many trilliums in bloom

The Cook's Ridge trail climbed, sometimes rather steeply.  I huffed and puffed in the humid forest air.  Although the temperature had been a bit chilly when I started, things had warmed up quite significantly.

Fern-y forest floor

Where was that trail junction?  It seemed like I'd been hiking quite a long time.  (Distance always seems longer when traveling uphill)  Happily the trail sign marking the junction finally came into view.  Woo-hoo, it was all downhill from here!

Weather-beaten trail sign

If I thought the Cook's Ridge Trail was nice, Gwynn Creek was even better.  It was an alley of green - ferns, moss, and needles of huge spruce and fir trees.

Gwynn Creek Trail 

Some of the trees were absolutely gigantic!  Huge Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees were numerous in the middle portion of the Gwynn Creek trail.  This must've been the "Old Growth Forest Network" the trailhead sign was bragging about.

One of the many enormous trees

Further down the trail, I admired more weird-looking fungi sprouting from the trunks of some trees.

More fun fungi

Towards the trail's bottom portion, Gwynn Creek, at first just a distant hum, became closer to the path until I could glimpse it's watery boundary and hear a constant roar.  Also, I discovered lots of bright pink salmonberry blooms under the tall tree canopies.

Salmonberry bloom

Finally I reached the final junction with the Oregon Coast Trail.  Before heading back on this trail, I took a short detour to a bridge overlooking lovely Gwynn Creek to get a good look at this waterway I'd been hearing.

Gwynn Creek

By now my left foot was telling me "enough" in no uncertain terms.  Two hikes in as many days was apparently too much for it's fragile state.  I limped through the final mile on the Oregon Coast trail.  The parking lot could not come soon enough!

Cape Perpetua glimpse from Oregon Coast Trail

Here the Oregon Coast trail was mostly just a green tunnel of vegetation through more lush coastal forest.  However, a couple of breaks in the woods did give peek-a-boo glimpses of the Cape Perpetua bridge and Highway 101.

Glittering ocean and fishing boat

The hike's early start had me returning to my car by lunchtime.  Deciding my foot needed a break I headed back to my yurt, where I chilled and read a book most of the afternoon.  But I still had unfinished business back at Cape Perpetua - the sunset awaited my camera lens!  So after an early supper, I packed my tripod and camera bag and headed back up Highway 101.

Wave action

My foot was not happy to be walking down the trail at Cape Perpetua, especially toting a tripod and backpack full of camera gear.  It was high tide, with waves crashing spectacularly on the rocks below, so instead of setting up on the lower shoreline, I decided to stay safe and perch myself on the bluff above.  From past visits, I knew of a good viewpoint where I could photograph Thor's Well.

Thor's Well

Thor's Well is a circular hole in the rocky coastline below Cape Perpetua.  At high tide, when waves crash into the shore with enough force, water shoots up dramatically through the "well" and then drains down its vertical sides.  Photographers from all over travel to the Oregon Coast to photograph this natural wonder.  Googling "Thor's Well" will produce hundreds of amazing images.

Stupid people getting way too close to Thor's Well

I had hoped to capture my own amazing image of Thor's Well at sunset.  Sadly the mostly overcast sky wasn't producing the best light.  From my vantage point, I zoomed in on Thor's Well and had fun trying to time my shutter clicks to both the high splashes and receding water.  I did manage to get a few images I liked, one of which is posted above.

Waiting for sunset

I was also entertained by a few foolish people who, despite the pounding waves, ventured out on the rocks to the very edge of Thor's Well.  Luckily, I didn't see anybody washed out to sea, but it looked like everyone who attempted that perfect selfie got a saltwater drenching.

A tiny bit of color

When photographing sunsets I like to get to my spot early to allow for setup.  But my arrival a full 3 hours before sunset was much too long of a wait.  I took a few photos of waves here and there, and when the sun illuminated a middle cloud layer orange, I added a few dozen images to my memory card.  But otherwise, time seemed to crawl at a snail's pace.

I had given up and was at my car when the sky erupted in pink

Although the sky was mostly overcast, there was a small bit of clearing between the upper and lower cloud layers that I hoped would light up as the sun dropped.  As I impatiently watched the sky, the sun's yellow ball did produce a nice glow as it passed through this gap.  But then it sunk into the lower cloud bank and there was......nothing.

Ugh!  I'd waited three hours for nothing!  My watch said sunset was 5 minutes away, but I was ready to go.  I didn't see how this overcast sky could produce anything colorful.  Besides, my foot was killing me.  It was time to pack up and get out of here.

Good thing I hadn't left yet!

Uphill I trudged through the small wooded area back to my car.  As I emerged from the forest a burst of color caught my eye.  In the time it took for me to walk from my spot, the sky had erupted into a blaze of pink.  Oh my gosh, the sky had decided to cooperate after all!

I quickly powered up my camera and stood by the parking lot overlook shooting frame after frame of what turned out to be a lovely sunset.  Moral of the story - when shooting the sunset, always stick around until the bitter end.

I got a pretty sunset after all

It had been a short, but wonderful getaway to one of my favorite places on the Oregon coast.  I'd checked two new trails off my list, captured some images of ocean waves, and even managed to witness a lovely sunset.  Cape Perpetua, you always deliver!  


  1. ...thanks for sharing this gorgeous part of the world.

  2. That part of the OR coast is so lovely. I hope the plantar fascia doesn't last too long. Perhaps your trip to SD gave it a long enough break???

  3. What a gorgeous area to explore and photograph!

  4. That was a beautiful walk through the dripping forest. It's always good to have a well-marked trail through forested areas as they can be so disorienting. Here a lot of the woodland is owned by the Forestry Commission, who do a wonderful job of managing the trees but who think nothing of blocking old paths and creating new ones wherever it suits them - it can be very confusing! Hope that foot walks itself back into shape.

  5. I’m glad you got that pink sky! The wildflowers are lovely.

  6. Sorry to read that you have foot issues again. So annoying when you now have all the time in the world to hike. I loved this visit and so glad you were there for sunsets colourful goodbye.

  7. I love the salmonberry bloom! Glad you were rewarded by the pink sunset after your patient wait. I'm always amazed at the chances people take for a "perfect" selfie or what they hope will be an IG worthy shot!


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.