Cape Blanco Part One

South of the Lighthouse

We have never explored the trails beyond the Cape Blanco Lighthouse except to walk down to visit the beach near Gull Rock and return.

Today we start at the South Cape Trailhead, take the beach to the mouth of the Elk River, and return via the beach to Needle Rock where we find a path back up the hill to our parked car.

oregonhikers.org

Cape Blanco Lighthouse…

Needle Rock as it appears from the parking area…

The trailhead leads us through an open meadow with several detours leading to spectacular views of the Oregon coast. I circled the first viewpoint in the picture below. Some people are standing there now.

And here we are, replacing those people I circled before. That’s Needle Rock below, looking less needle-like from this perspective. The land form to the right,  jutting out to the sea, is the most westerly point in Oregon. The lighthouse is located on this promontory.

To the south is Humbug Mountain and the Port Orford Heads where the Lifeboat Museum is located.

North…

South…

Due west…

More viewpoints…

We enter the woods that run parallel to the Cape Blanco State Park Campground.

The woods emerge into a large grassy area with picnic tables overlooking the ocean.

We end up on a road that descends onto the beach.

To the north is a view of Needle Rock, the most westerly point in Oregon, and barely visible is the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

The beach is calm here and flat. Jeff wiggles his 10 piggies in the cold waters.

We walk to the mouth of the Elk River.

Two kids just slid down this sand dune on their butts!

We arrive at the Elk River where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

Then we meet Rover, the dog who loves to run and swim. He even catches a fish as he frolicks in the river waters.

It’s possible to cross the river, but we start back instead.

This is the most populated beach we have encountered in Port Orford. Of course, it is Memorial Day weekend and the closest beach to the campground. A few families with lots of kids and sand toys. Two sunbathers tanning on the sand dunes. Many beach bums like us. (I try to take pictures without people in them.)

Notice the sand drifts surrounding this piece of driftwood.

The south side of Needle Rock.

The east side of Needle Rock.

From the beach we search for a pathway leading up to the parking area. We can’t see it from here but we saw it from above and could trace it from the first viewpoint we came to on the South Cape Trail. I remember it went down to a pile of driftwood  to the left of the Needle.

I get a hunch and send Jeff up to survey. Eureka!

We make it!

Our beach souvenirs…

Floras Lake Beach Trail

Slogging Through the Sand

The tide is out so we plan on hiking the beach from Floras Lake to Blacklock Point.

We take Highway 101 North past Langlois, turn west onto the Floras Lake Loop, park in the lot just beyond the Boice Campground, and cross the bridge where Floras Creek becomes the New River.

We walk briefly through a canopy of trees…

…And step out onto the lake… no one here… no kiteboarding or wind surfing going on yet.

My favorite driftwood “bench” is unoccupied.

Bright yellow flowers bloom in the sand…

…And grow into large clusters of…

The sand is thick and it takes an effort to walk through. We call it slogging. So, we slog our way past the lake and sand dunes to the ocean shore.

We leave our slogging footprints behind…

To the east, the sand dunes and lake…

To the south our destination… somewhere in the mist of rock heads jutting into the ocean…


Sand dunes give way to sandstone…

…That gradually grow into cliffs…

Meanwhile, the waves pound the shore…

…And hurl rocks into the sandstone cliffs…

Water seeps down from the cliffs above the beach.

As the cliffs get higher, the forest recedes from their edge.

Whole crabs wash ashore. Can you spot the agate in the picture below? Hint: 10:00 from the front left claw… white top, tooth-shaped amber rock with a diagonal streak of white? I didn’t notice this until after I took this pic!

Notice how the wind and waves shape the sand at the bottom of this sloping rock.

The cliffs rise and we slog on blindly to where rocks and sea prevent us from continuing further.

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we discover an arch carved in the rocky cliffs above.

We can see the end of our destination now… the nearest cliff with trees above that slope onto a rocky point below.

We are almost there now…

And in another 10 minutes, we arrive…

Rocks… dark green foliage… yellow blooms… lime-green moss…

…Blue sky… white waves… dark sand…

Looking north down the beach…

Discovering a waterfall dropping out of the cliffs…

…Wish you could be here!


We head back to Floras Lake…

Clumps of Valella valella pile up along the rocks.

The cliffs look amazing from this direction!

Rocks buried in the sand are amazing as well.

As we approach the beach beyond the sand dunes at Floras Lake, a kite sails the wind.

We reach the break in the sand dune and trudge toward Floras Lake where we take the trail that leads us back to our car.

We empty our shoes and shake out the sand from our socks before we return to Camp Blanco RV Park in Port Orford.


Holy Cow! What a souvenir of shells and rocks we collected today!

Oh, and here’s the agate we overlooked…

‘Neath the Rock

Battle Rock Beach 2018

We walk the mile or so to Battle Rock Wayside Park along Highway 101, called Oregon Street here in Port Orford.

I find flowers along the way that capture my fancy.

The petals of these bright pink flowers resemble crepe paper.

These blooms look like salal, but they are not.

Purple violet-like flowers and pink-tinged daisies make their home in a large sawed-off wooden barrel.


We have no agenda except to walk, enjoy, and observe the changing seascape.

As we head toward Hubbard Creek’s spillage into the ocean, we meet 2 librarians from Utah. They carry thick rods with a scoop on the end. I assume they are clamming. Curious, I approach them to learn more. No, they aren’t clamming… just scooping up treasures from the beach without bending over.

We trade stories and share our delight for Port Orford.

Meanwhile, Jeff and I scoop up our own treasures that we collect in our bulging pockets.

As we return to Battle Rock we take advantage of the low tide to explore the cave-like crevices at the foot of the rock and to walk through the natural tunnel to the other side of the beach.

Do you recognize the mountain in the distance, the tallest one on the Oregon Coast? If you said Humbug, you are right!

Do you see the colony of white in the middle of the right side of the rock above? Does that make sense? Below is a close-up of these barnacles, mussels, and shells attached to the rocks.

Here’s the tunnel to the other side…

So, we walk through.

We arrive at the other side of Battle Rock to a mini-beach that ends at a bluff. Beyond it is the beach at the dock.

We collect some sea glass among the rocks.

Here’s a pic of the other side of Battle Rock.

And the view through the tunnel with Humbug towering in the distance…

As we return and head back, I discover the path the 4-wheel-drive vehicles take to access the beach.

The piles of driftwood still amaze me.

And a fishing boat reminds me of Port Orford’s natural resources.

As we make our way up the hill toward the Wayside parking lot, I can’t help myself. I just have to take pics of these colorful blooms of spring.

Back at the RV we unload our pockets and display our newest collection of beach treasures.

The Oregon Coast Trail

The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Named in honor of the first Oregon Parks superintendent, this scenic corridor is a linear state park in southwestern Oregon. It is 12 miles long and thickly forested along steep and rugged coastline with a few small beaches. It is located just north of Brookings, Oregon between the Pacific Ocean and U.S. Route 101. The north end abuts the Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint.

The Oregon Coast Trail meanders 27 miles through this park.

Following the coast of Oregon from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border south of Brookings, the Oregon Coast Trail is a 425 mile hiking route.  (en.m.wikipedia.org)

So… now that we know The Who, What, and Where, I will explain Our Why.

Jeff and I stopped at every viewpoint along this corridor last summer. We promised each other that when we returned to Port Orford we would hike between the viewpoints.

Today we travel south for 44 miles to Arch Rock where we plan to hike the Coastal Trail to Natural Bridges.


It is raining and overcast when we arrive at the Arch Rock viewpoint. The view is beautiful but where is Arch Rock?

We walk along a short path through the forest and voila

Of course it’s raining now.

We meet up with a young woman with a clipboard and camera with a long lense. She is working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife surveying the presence of the Black Oystercatcher as an indicator of ocean health.

She shows us a picture of this black bird with its bright orange beak.

oregonconservationstrategy.org

We continue walking, trying to avoid the leaves of three that shout out, “We are poison oak… Beware!”

We return to our parked car and take more pictures while we decide whether to continue hiking in the rain or return to Port Orford.


Since we are already wet, we decide to continue following the coastal trail, hoping the forest will provide shelter and that the rain will stop.

I spy a yellow-green snail shell. As I move in to take a picture, the snail’s white body pops out!

We hike through the forest and the rain lets up and eventually ceases.

Ocean views peek out between the trees.


Twenty minutes later we are out of the forest and walking along Highway 101.

These blooms of purple flowers guide us along our way.

The road leads us to a large turnout and a path leading toward the ocean.

We delight in the breathtaking views of Secret Beach.


But we need to move on so we climb back up onto the trail heading south. We cross a bridge intersecting a waterfall and I take pictures from both sides.

A little later we pass by this closer view of the waterfall.

The sun shines brightly now and lights up the path in neon greens.

Once in a while the trees frame pictures of the Pacific Ocean.

The views of the forest are fantastic as well.

The coastal trail leads us to Thunder Rock Cove.

After opening onto a large grassy knoll, the path ends at the point below.

And look who I find here, doing his best Vana White impression…

The view to the north…

The view to the south…

The view heading back…

We finally exit at the trailhead to Thunder Rock Cove.

So, we never do quite make it to Natural Bridges, but we do have fun exploring the coastal trail and experiencing some gorgeous views.

We walk back along the highway to our car parked by Arch Rock because it is a lot shorter than retracing our steps. We still have a 44-mile drive back to Port Orford and I am excited to download my pictures for this post.


…Another lovely day on the southern coast of Oregon…

Geysers of Waves

Agate Beach 2018

Today we walk to Tseriadun State Recreation Site to gain access to Agate Beach. Our plan is to slog north through the thick sand, exit at Paradise Point, and return home.

As we cross through the sand dunes we notice a spray of white sea droplets shooting up from the rocks. And they keep coming like a fireworks display. They remind me of spurting geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

The waves are especially strong today and as they hit the rocky shore to the south, they explode. So cool!

Jeff and I climb up onto the rocks to get a better view. I capture one spectacular view after another.

Then we climb higher.

Eventually the waves get larger and spill over onto the lower set of rocks where we were just standing.

Did I forget to mention that the beach below us is a wide stream and that the only way back is over these same rocks?

The waves here are unpredictable and can be dangerous so we make our way back to the dry beach again. But what a glorious experience…


We head north along the beach looking out to the sea, looking beyond to the coast, and mostly looking down to the treasures buried in the sand.

We fill up our pockets with agates, jaspers, rocks that call our name, and seashells or parts of seashells. The smooth segments, polished by the sea and sand, I call “worry shells” because you can hold them between your fingers and rub them like a “worry stone” when feeling anxious or unsettled.

We reach the beach access at Paradise Point where we climb through the sand dunes and walk home along Paradise Point Road.

As we cross Garrison Lake, I look through the trees and take this picture of Humbug Mountain rising in the distance.


Upon returning to the RV, we unload our pockets and admire our newest collection of beach treasures.

Especially awesome is this blue and white rock with 2 distinctive personalities.

Side 1…

…and Side 2

But for me today, my beach treasures are really the geysers of waves and the unexpected view of Humbug Mountain from Paradise Point Road.

Blacklock Point

2018

Today we revisit Blacklock Point by traveling north to Airport Road where it dead ends into the trailhead. It’s not an exciting hike, more of a means to a breathtaking end.

With this in mind, I decide to focus on the uncurling blooms of the springtime forest. And so, as we step onto the trail, I begin my photo-journaling with this pic…


The mile-long trail runs parallel to the airport runway before entering the woods. A marked intersection leads you along a winding path that becomes wet and boggy, but narrow boardwalks allow you to circumvent the soggy unpassable sections of the trail. Finally, one last intersection guides you to an open wooded area shaded by a canopy of large Douglas firs.

As we begin this last lap to Blacklock Point, Jeff notices a bright orange color and we stop to observe this unusual growth with amber sap emanating from irregular hole-like structures.

Finally, we enter the open forest and enjoy the first views of the ocean as we step out into the sunshine.

Below is the view of the beach leading south to the Sixes River. Beyond is the Cape Blanco Lighthouse on the rock ledge jutting out into the sea. If you stand still and watch, you can see the light flashing as the prism lenses rotate.

A gently sloping trail leads down to the beach on the south but we haven’t taken this trail yet. You can bet this is on our To-Do List for later in the summer!

Meanwhile, we continue along a grassy promontory overlooking steep rocky hillsides that drop down to a dark sand beach dotted with rocks, large and small.

To the north is a steep-sided ravine overlooking sandstone cliffs along the shoreline at Floras Lake. During low tide you can walk along the beach beneath the wall of cliffs leading to Blacklock Point.

The bluff is not too windy today. I am intrigued by the varying shades of spring green, the contrasting blues of the ocean and sky, the budding flowers, and the way the sun highlights it all.

We reurn the way we came and pass through the forest of ferns…

and flowering blackberry bushes…

and giant hostas…

and a very well-camouflaged red frog… His backside blends in perfectly with the bits of wood covering the forest floor. Can you find him?

and a rhododendron startinging to bloom…

and yellow moss covering a bare tree with its lace…

and finally, as we return to the trailhead, more uncurling ferns in the springtime forest.


…Just in case you had trouble spotting the camouflaged frog…

Stop and See the Seaweed

Battle Rock Beach

We rise and shine and walk to Battle Rock Beach with a goal in mind… to head south for a mile, past the familiar shoreline of rocks, nooks, and crannies to Hubbard Creek and back again. I promise myself not to take any pictures until we reach our destination and turn around. I keep my word.

We arrive to where the creek pushes away the sand and ripples into the sea and the picture-taking commences.

Shore birds feast on tiny sea critters the battering waves uncover from beneath the sand.

In front of me, looking west…

Behind me, looking north toward Battle Rock and the Port of Port Orford…

We leisurely walk back, looking down, looking beyond, and stopping to explore.


Bright green seaweed hugs this rock like a post-it-note…

A large rock tattooed with embedded stones, shells, and fossils…

Pools of water trapped inside white rocks… lying underneath soggy seaweed toupees…

The rocky shore…

Wet rocks glistening in the sun… (Jeff thinks the largest rock in the middle looks like an alien. And no, no agates today on this beach…)

A dead crab washed up and stuck between some rocks at low tide…

A bad hair day…

A rock stack, almost up close and personal…

A tidal pool with 2 large sand borers… Can you spot them below? They look like mole crabs.

Can you see them now?

Seaweed trapped in a tidal pool…

Rocks you can walk out on and take some pics from…

As the tide slowly comes in, we walk closer to the shore and discover a washed up starfish surrounded by pieces of driftwood sculpted smooth by the waves.

As the waves ebb and flow, they leave a curvy outline of seaweed and crab pieces in the sand highlighted by claws and body shells picked over by the shore birds. It’s unusual to see a whole crab.

As we approach Battle Rock I focus on capturing different views of the beach beyond, taken from the rocky shore.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pet…

Port Orford Heads and the Dock in the distance…

Strange jelly-like creatures appear closer to Battle Rock… From afar they look like scattered bird feathers until we examine them up close.

At first we think these oval-shaped webs have something to do with mussels that are similarly shaped. Do bivalves shed?

A little online researching identifies these jelly-like “skins” as Velella velella. They are small predatory clusters of identical cells drifting on the surface of the open ocean. These chondrophores or porpitids look like a single organism but are actually a colony of specialized individual animals that perform unique tasks and cannot survive outside the group.

Velella are transparent sail-shaped membranes with a texture like cellophane.  They are filled with gas and prey upon micro-plankton. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

Apparently it is not unusual to see a large collection of these sea creatures washed up onto the beach when changing winds and currents propel them ashore instead of pushing them out into the ocean.

More common names for Velella include sea raft, by-the-wind sailor, purple sail, and little sail. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

While I take pictures, Jeff and I also search for unusual rocks and seashells, always hoping to find an agate or two.

We don’t uncover any agates, but we do find lots of spiral-like seashells and rocks for Jeff’s “planter”.

(He has found 3 seeds in his marijuana stash and wants to plant them to see if they will grow. So…. He purchased this acrylic vase at the Dollar Store in Brookings, Oregon when we traveled the 55 miles south to grocery shop at Fred Meyer which is owned by Kroger, the familiar chain of our hometown, Cincinnati.)

I explain to him that a bed of rocks and lots of dirt in a large container are not the best way to plant tiny seeds. I suggest he buy a small clay pot so the seeds can take root first and later transplant the growing plant. Meanwhile, his rock collection grows. He just needs to find a small clay pot to set inside the vase and atop the rocks to see if the seeds will grow. (Or we can root from an avocado or sweet potato…)


She sees seaweed and seashells by the seashore… 

Can you repeat this 3x fast?

There’s Nothing Humbug About Humbug Mountain

Port Orford 2018

Today we revisit Humbug Mountain and embark on a 5-mile out and back journey through what looks like Jurassic Park.

The climb takes us over 1700 feet to the summit… an open area and a bench overlooking trees and brush obscuring the ocean view. But we already know this (been here, done it once we arrogantly remember.)

The first mile is a doozy of an uphill. Fortunately photo-ops allow us to catch our breath with artistic dignity…

The sorrels beneath the Douglas Firs are blooming.

We encounter a Snail Crossing.

The pale green moss hanging off the tree limbs reminds us of Halloween ghosts.

Yet another uphill switchback gifts us with a  trickling stream that delights and calms us as we cross.

But a few minutes later a fallen tree narrows the path.

We cross cautiously and 10 minutes later arrive at the loop trail to the summit. Last year we took the West Trail, remembering how steep and taxing it was stepping over fallen logs. So today we opt for the East Trail.

Fifteen minutes later we encounter the first of our uphill obstacle courses.

Finally, we maneuver this tangled mess and I take a pic from the other side. Can you find the trail path?

Safely across, a break in the trees provides a view of US-101 below and the ocean covered with the misty marine layer.

Hugging the side of the trail, Trilliums are in full bloom.

But it’s not long before the trail is blocked again.

And again… not even 10 minutes later we see trouble ahead.

Up close we can see where lightning struck the tree. The arrow shows the trail as we approach and how much was ripped away by the uprooted tree.

After passing through, I look back to take a picture.

Oops… too soon… We pass another uprooted tree.

Then just around this bend…

These black caterpillar-like centipedes are plentiful under the soil of the uprooted trees. They start to creep us out.

Next we encounter 2 fallen tree trunks. We can’t climb over them so we have to crawl under them. Jasley, our limbo princess, we need you now!

And then…

Finally, things are looking up…

But not for long…

With a little more than 30 minutes away from the summit, we enjoy our hike.

Then another uprooted tree reminds us not to get too comfortable.

I spy a cool growth on a dead tree trunk and I just have to have a picture.

Three pictures later we reach the summit trail.

Another uphill? But just a short one…

Then a switchback and ta-da!

The geological marker makes it official.

But just in case one has any doubts, someone has carved peak into the mile post.

But the 3 mile sign is missing.

Exhausted, I make my way to the bench that used to overlook the ocean. The mile marker is lying on the ground beside it, depicting exactly how I feel at the moment… thirsty, hungry, and tired.

I hydrate and rest and eat my yogurt, banana, peanut butter, raisin and date concoction. I do my best to capture a glimpse or two of the ocean through the trees, even if I capture more clouds than ocean.

I remember from last year that Myrtle trees live here too and I take some pictures.

A half hour later we head down the mountain on the west trail. Down, what an encouraging word!

An ocean view greets us.

And we trot down through the Oregon Coast rain forest…

I take pictures of more Trilliums…

…blackberry flowers…

…broken trees…

…blooming hostas…

…another peek at the ocean…

So far so good! No obstacle courses on this side of the loop trail.

Just a few tree trunks to duck under…

Uh-oh… I spoke too soon.

That was fun… Our spirits lighten again as ocean views poke through the forest windows.

Then we slide our way to the end of the loop trail.

At last, the loop and all its challenges are behind us. All we have to do is continue downhill, retracing the first mile up, and arrive to the safety of our car. What a doozy of an afternoon!

Humbug Mountain is usually not a particularly difficult trail to hike. It’s a great workout offering a continuous heart-pounding climb one way and an exhilarating descent all the way down. Your leg muscles will yell at you, but your heart will thank you. And the next time you hike here you will have forgotten all about the pain in the gain… until you reach the first switchback.


Oh, just an FYI… My reliable sources in town tell me that plans are underway to trim back all the trees and bushes at the summit so that hikers can arrive to an ocean view again.

Port Orford Heads 2018

And Coast Guard Hill Road

Today we head south from our RV site on Idaho Street to 9th Street West and up Coast Guard Hill Road to Port Orford Heads State Park and the Coast Guard Museum. It’s about a 2 mile walk from where we live.

As we climb the uphill road we encounter several deer resting in yards and staring out at us. I wave as we pass by.

The closer we approach the Heads, we catch a glimpse of the ocean and Humbug Mountain.

Then the Coast Guard Museum comes into view.

We’re almost there and our cardiovascular system thanks us.

Finally, we arrive and take the Headland Trail leading to spectacular ocean views where we can observe the sea lions hanging out and, in the past, a whale or two.  The very end of the trail overlooks Agate Beach and Garrison Lake. Cape Blanco juts out in the distance.

The east trail hugs Nellie’s Cove where Coast Guard crews once descended 532 steps to the boathouse that held two 36-foot motor lifeboats.

The water here is a vivid turquoise.

From this side of the Heads you can see Humbug Mountain and Battle Rock Beach in the distance.

Just look at the trunk of this humongous tree or is it trees? We come across quite a few of these high risers with fat trunks. Jeff guesses they are yews because of their leaves. Pacific yews maybe? Apparently their bark contains a chemical called taxol which has been used in treating some types of cancer.

The trail ends at the Lookout Tower Site  with a southeast view of Humbug Mountain, Redfish Rocks, and Island Rock.

The southwest view overlooks hills that roll into the ocean.

We leisurely walk back through the sloping west side meadow. As we exit the forest and head in to the sun, a cluster of irises greets us.

As I pause to take a picture, I glance back and capture this perspective of the rolling meadow curving into the forest above.

We head back toward the Coast Guard Museum.

The ocean views keep coming. Jeff and I repeat over and over to each other, “So beautiful.”

It’s time to return home. I wonder what picture opportunities await me and it doesn’t take me long to find some.

Oh, before I forget… While walking the trails today we crossed paths twice with an older gentleman who walks around the Heads everyday it’s not raining. Later we discover he lives behind us at Camp Blanco RV Park. A fitting ending to my trail tale…

oregonhikers.org

New River Nature Center

An Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)

Seventeen miles north of Port Orford is a 1200-acre “preserve” managed by the Bureau of Land Management. ACECs are areas where the BLM has determined that special control is required to protect unique plant and animal resources.

From US-101, we take Croft Lake Lane for 2 miles, passing cranberry bogs on both sides of the road.

Croft Lake Lane ends at the New River Learning Center, which is closed the day we visit, and continues as River Road leading to the boat ramp and picnicking area.

We park across from the Learning Center as we are interested in hiking the 3 miles of trails. It’s an overcast day with intermittent showers, but it turns out to be an amazing day for taking pictures… hint, hint for what’s to come…

On our way to the North Trail, a sheltered kiosk detains me with information…

According to local lore, the Great Flood of 1890 caused waters to rage into the lowlands and create a new northbound channel for Floras Creek. A rancher, witnessing this new channel exclaimed, “It’s a new river!”

But before settlers ranched here, Coquille and Qua-to-mah Indians once fished for salmon, picked mussels, and hunted clams along these shores.

So, let’s hit the trail… the North Trail… bordered by manzanita and rhododendron…

We take the Ridge Trail loop and I just have to share these pictures!

The loop ends at the Huckleberry Hill Trail that winds through sand dunes.

As the dunes fade into forest, we travel on the Ocean View Trail through a dense forest.

We take the spur to the overlook for views of the river, ocean, and dune restoration work where European beachgrass has been removed.

This fast-growing plant was introduced here by Europeans in the 1930s to slow the growth of sand dunes to protect their land investments. Unfortunately the beachgrass has choked out many native plants and altered the habitat for the western snowy plover. (plaque and brochure)

 inr.oregonstate.edu

The Ocean View Trail exits onto New River Road and the boat launch.

We walk along River Road to access the West Muddy Lake Trail.

A side trail leads to a spot along the river.

Back on the main trail, we arrive at the edge of the freshwater Muddy Lake.

We cross through a coastal shore pine forest…

…that leads to an open meadow and the Old Bog Trail.

At the end of the trail we reach a natural bog. A natural bog takes hundreds of years to create. Clay-laden soil lines the bottom of a bog holding water, much like a swimming pool liner. As organic materials collect and decompose, the water becomes acidic. Only specially adapted plant species, such as sedges, salal, wild cranberries, and shore pine can thrive in these soggy conditions. (plaque)

These bogs were transformed into one of the oldest cranberry bogs on the southern coast of Oregon, the Westmoor Cranberry Bogs, as a way to supplement the income of eastern settlers.

In order to harvest cranberries, the farmers had to find a way to pump water out of the bog, prevent sedges from growing, and keep the deer away. Hauling sand from the nearby dunes to spread by hand over the site aided in this.

From 1914-1950 these cranberries were shipped as faraway as Portland and Los Angeles for the holidays. Berry pickers were paid in tickets redeemable at local stores for food and clothing. (plaque and brochure)

Today this natural bog has returned to its organic state filling with sediments and vegetation. The bench below symbolizes this process for me.

On the way back to the Muddy Lake Trail I get close up and personal with salal shrubs.

And I peek into a gap in the shore pines to discover manzanita branches sculptured by the wind and resting on the yellow-green moss below.

And then these delicate white snowflakes stare up at me.

We return to the East Muddy Lake Trail and the open meadow.

We enter another pine forest. A hanging moss beard captures my attention.

And more flowers…

The end of the trail, or the beginning, displays a plaque explaining the rich mosaic of habitats and life living within the New River Trail System.

As we exit onto River Road we meet a woman from Gold Beach. Then a “milk truck-looking vehicle” slowly passes by and my new friend and I stop them for a chat. We learn that they just converted this vehicle into a camper.

I say goodbye to my new friends and head to our car.

After turning the bend I take one last picture of an old farm machine. Jeff and I convince ourselves that it has something to do with harvesting cranberries.

What an unexpectedly wonderful day!