Bah! Humbug Mountain

2 May

Entering Oregon our aim was to get to Harris Beach State Park for the night. I had visions of a walk to the beach with a little beach combing. As we arrived at Brookings Harbor, a few miles south of the Sate Park, what had been a misty mizzle of rain became more intense rainfall. Given the choice between camping in the trees (with the drips pinging on the roof all night) or camping at the harbour, with a view of the waves, we swiftly chose the ocean view. We spent the afternoon watching the waves crash on the rocks along the coast, that is when we could see out of the windows for the rain pouring down them.

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We certainly made the correct decision. The day ended with heavy rain which continued all night. Next morning there seemed to be a little brightness in the sky but heavy clouds bought in more showers. We decided to stay another night and between showers took a walk out around the harbour area.

Given the overnight rain we were a little concerned to spot this vessel in the harbour!

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The sun may look bright on that picture above but a few minutes later we were running for shelter as another downpour arrived. And so the day continued…. one other bonus …. sitting in our conservatory (haRVey’s front seats!) with our ocean view we spotted whales. Very close in to the beach, we were amazed how close, there seemed to be several swimming together, we saw the puffs of water as they ‘spouted’ glimpsed the dark shadow of their backs, but, they did not put on any further display for us despite our hopes for a nice big jump out of the water by one of them. Too much to expect I suppose.

By Friday morning we really thought the storm would have passed but it was still grey when we left Brookings. We were hoping to stay at Humbug Mountain State Park with the idea of hiking the mountain on Saturday. We pottered along the coast, in many places the highway had collapsed at the sides, cones closing off one of the carriageways. Some sections have been repaired, some are under repair, some are badly in need of repair! We found a nice spot, made sure it had no chance of sliding and  pulled in to have some lunch, again we had a great view to watch the waves as they came up the beach.

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The State Park camp ground was almost empty, we were quite surprised, this is a Friday, we are used to them being almost full by mid afternoon even at this time of the year. We chose a site then took a walk the mile or so to the beach. The tide was almost high so we could not walk far but we were able to observe more winter storm damage, mud slides on to the beach from beneath the road.

Hurrah! Saturday morning we woke to a sky which showed all promise of a fine day, at last! Well it seemed like ages since we had seen the sun, it was at least 3 days!

We recently rediscovered information for Humbug Mountain the highest peak on the southern Oregon coast, as Robert began to talk about it I slowly recollected that on our first visit to this coast we were going to hike the trail here, but…. it was not good enough weather! This time Robert was determined we would conquer the  3 mile trail to the top of the, 1765ft above sea level, mountain. I was pleased the sun had come out for us.

The trail consists of several sections. From the campground to the trail head is a nice easy 1/4 mile walk, there is then a 1mile trail to the split for the east or west routes around the mountain. West route is 1.5 miles, East route is 2 miles…… hang on…. I am adding this up….. total distance there and back is????? 6 miles… hmm not the short walk I was thinking of! P1270269

The mountain is thickly wooded with lush undergrowth. We had not walked more than a quarter of a mile before we came to a stream. I am sure at some times of the year this would be no obstacle but after the recent rain it was gushing down the mountain. Not wanting to get my feet wet at this early stage I picked my way carefully over the stepping stones and pieces of log to cross the water. The path rose fairly quickly switching back on itself in places. Another quarter mile and we found a downed tree its root ball straddled the path. Muddy steps had been created in the earth still clinging to its base, we clambered up and over. I wondered how I was going to get back down on the return it always being easier to go up than down.

 

We came to the split in the trail – a choice – east or west? East was 2 miles west 1.5, my logic said that 1.5 miles up hill and 2 miles down hill would be the best route. As we continued we once more had to navigate the stream and yet another fallen tree, this one a little easier than the first. The bonus was small glimpses through the trees of the hills to the south and the ocean already a good way below us.

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Despite the dampness in the shade beneath the trees we were so pleased the day was clear to enjoy these views.

In spite of the constant uphill gradient of the path the distance seemed to pass quickly. I was constantly spotting various wild flowers in the vegetation, violas, mostly not yet in flower, ferns just unfurling new fronds, pink and white trillium looking a little worse for wear as their soft petals had suffered from the rain.

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The trees were covered in hanging moss.

Just before we reached the summit we had our best view out down the coast. Having noticed that our camera battery was almost finished we decided not to take a picture but to save it for the view from the top. How disappointing, we arrived to find the smallest glimpse of misty coastline the rest was hidden by a belt of trees! Robert questioned if we should retrace our steps to the view but I not wanting to add extra distance to the trail, was all for descending, saying I was sure there would be another opportunity on the return trail – wrong!

The return trail was, however, a much nicer trail to hike. The surface was easy with fewer uneven sections. We covered it very quickly, crossing again over streams and passing lovely small waterfall. Lots more trees down on this side but thankfully not over the trail. We reached the ‘nasty’ tree route again, Robert’s long legs easily reached down the muddy, make shift steps and by leaning on him I was able to get down too without sliding in the mud as I had feared.

The total 6 miles took us just over 3 hours including photo opportunities and ‘chat’ stops. We were pleased to have conquered Humbug Mountain!

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