Nestucca Spit and Cape Kiwanda

February 8, 2015.

I have a certain fondness for the Oregon Coast in winter. Some days you hit the weather just right. The valley is socked in with clouds. A drizzle fills the air. But at the coast, the sun beams down. The air is warm and fresh. It’s like a little slice of heaven parts the cloak of mid-winter gloom. Today would not be one of those days.

Still, the fondness remains. The coast can test your ruggedness. Your preparedness. Your willingness to say “yeah, let’s keep going” instead of “uh, let’s just stay in town and drink beers.”

At least it wasn’t raining. I organized this adventure as a Mazama hike, rolling the dice on the weather. To my surprise, a few people agreed to join me.

There were some stragglers, however, so those of us who arrived on time had to hang around and wait at the trailhead until almost noon. We played around with some balancing drills and games using the wooden fence in the parking lot. When the gang was all there, we set off on the beach.

It was unseasonably warm; we all had too many layers on. The sky was cloudy but it wasn’t raining. We were lucky. The team walked the ocean shore to the end of the spit and then crossed over to the bay side.

The crossing was barricaded with piles of driftwood and debris that we negotiated to get back on the sand. From a distance, a wall of seals looked on with curiosity or disdain (I couldn’t really tell). We continued as long as we could before the sandy shoreline gave way to grassy cliffs. The terrain forced us inland.

There was a muddy trail that crossed through the little forest on the spit. This made traveling through the dense thicket of vegetation quite easy and pleasant.

Then it started to rain.

The muddy trail had spots of standing water.

Was that a trail or a stream? Time to take the shoes off.

In places, the trail had nearly knee-deep water. It was turning into a type two adventure. The group members approached these challenges differently, and it was a bit much for some. Oops. I thought it was pretty fun.

When we returned to the parking lot, it was decision time: press on to Cape Kiwanda or head home? Four of us decided to hike up the hill while the other two left for home.

The hike to the top of Cape Kiwanda, a 240′ tall sand dune, was vigorous but short. Soon we stood on the summit, looking all around at the majestic Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps the best part, though, was the barefoot run back down the hill. Or the post-hike beers and food at Pelican Brewing. The whole experience was great and I enjoyed sharing a winter day at the coast with some hardy folks!

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