Tahkenitch Creek and Dunes

October 14, 2015.

10 mi | 500′ ele. gain | 5:15 hr.

It was a stellar day to go to the coast. Like, beyond perfect. I had all day and I wanted to cover some ground. According to the Sullivan book, I could combine two great hikes into one. A little flipping back and forth between the pages helped me visualize how it would come together.

I arrived at the Tahkenitch Creek trail head at 10:45 am. The sun was warm and bright. Barefoot, wearing capris and a tank top, I set off for the beach.

It began in thick, coastal woods, but I wouldn’t be stuck here for long. The trail crossed the creek on a bridge and then led into a network of official and social trails. I forded the creek where the book recommended and got onto a trail leading straight for the beach. Once I got there, I had over three miles of sandy beach walking to look forward to!

I can think of few things more enjoyable than walking barefoot on the Oregon coast. The salty air, the cool breeze, the warm sun, the peace and quiet…it was just me, the birds and the surf. Occasionally I’d find a piece of driftwood I could walk on or jump over. But mostly I fell into a meditative rhythm of walking in the sand. Pure bliss.

At the end of the beach walk I located the turn leading away from the shore, towards Tahkenitch Lake. I’d been here before, and was looking forward to having a lakeside lunch.

It was just as pretty as I remembered. The sunlight sparkled in the lake’s blue waters. I felt fortunate to have this magical landscape all to myself.

After lunch I left the lake and the sand behind to head back into the forest. It was more difficult to walk barefoot on the needles, rocks and pinecones on the forest floor. I slowed my pace and paid closer attention to my surroundings. There I discovered colorful mushrooms, silent banana slugs and delicate ferns. As much as I adored the beach, it was a pleasant change of scenery and the shade felt nice after being so exposed to the sun.

Eventually the dirt and rocks gave way to sand and I was back in the dunes. I followed the route as best I could, keeping an eye open for the connecting trail that would lead me back to my car. See, my plan for the day was to connect two hiking loops into one big loop. I couldn’t be sure how easy that would be. According to the book it looked totally do-able…

But I should have known better. I’ve had lots of epics at the coast. It’s ridiculously easy to get confused or lured into a route that looks fine, but turns out to be a nightmare.

In an effort to make my way back to the Tahkenitch Creek trail, I walked cross-country across the dunes, which were now covered in vegetation. This was a challenge barefoot due to the large number of devil seeds that were embedding themselves into my feet. I switched to shoes and powered through the grass.

Back on trail, I regained my route and completed the hike. It was a grand adventure, and one I hope to repeat again.

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