Whether you've been reading along with me or you just picked up a paper today, thanks. It is bittersweet to have finally found the end - or the beginning - of the Samuel Boardman trail system.
I enjoyed hiking every section from Lone Ranch Beach to Hooskanaden Beach. I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing. And if one person, just one, was inspired enough to hike after having read what I wrote: mission accomplished!
Sometime I'd like to hike it all in one day. For funsies. That would really be something. Would you look at that?
The final trail section is just north of Arch Rock at a place called Windy Point. You'll see why when you get there. No trees anywhere, just lots and lots of grassy hillside, mirroring the way the trail starts out above Lone Ranch Beach.
Park in the turnout north of Arch Rock viewpoint. Hike along the highway until you come to the Oregon Coast Trail post.
The trail is indistinct. It needs a haircut. Just follow the grass that's a different color. You'll find a sad little green bench braving the winds all by its lonesome - until you came along.
To the left and right of the bench are short trails offering cliff-side exploration. Much of the hillside has shifted, over time, and you can see long splits in the earth. What I'm saying is, go exploring cliffs at your own risk, with the knowledge that the earth is very unstable. I did.
Finding the main trail again is tough, so just walk across the grassy hillside the best you can. Eventually, small white flowers form a path. Follow them on a zig-zag course down toward Hooskanaden Beach, where Hooskanaden Creek pours out of a massive culvert pipe onto the rocks and sand below.
You can see all the way up the beach for miles as you descend. Multiple paths lead down to it, but if you stay on the main trail you'll come to a 12-foot-high post marking the end of the line, just above the shoreline.
The culvert-pipe waterfall is south. Along the way, you'll find a fantastic lean-to and another structure housing a fire pit. Both are made of rope and driftwood. It's a great spot to kick back for a while and watch the waves roll in. Keep going south to explore the bottom side of the cliffs below Windy Point.
North is the longest stretch of rocky beach ever. It seriously took me over an hour to hike to the end. Difficult going with all the rocks. Very little sand to be found. Some sections looked like Chetco River rock. Others were boulder sized.
I got tired a few times and thought to turn around. I am so glad I kept going. The rocks you come across are incredible. Some look like insect hives. Others have strange lines and patterns. Still others are covered in green moss-like algae, resembling animal fur. Then, down at the end, there is a coastal shelf where a long, wide section of flat rock has been eroded over time. You can walk it like a beach. It looks like no other area on our section of coastline.
Anyway, when I got there, finally, I spotted something that looked like a big floppy mangled seagull. I caught a glimpse of white and gray before it flipped itself off the rock. As soon as it hit the water I realized it was a baby seal.
I ran straight over and stood on a rock. The little seal poked its head up out of the water. The deepest, darkest eyes I've ever seen stared up at me from just a few feet away. The seal's sibling came swimming up and they both swam in circles in the shallow water together, splashing gracefully.
I ran around the water, along the rocks, to get an elevated view from further away. They swam over together to get a closer look as they were very curious and playful.
I noticed three adult seals further out in the surf, waiting patiently. Eventually the little ones started barking. I was lucky enough to capture a short video. They sound very much like dogs.
I left the little seals behind to find their parents, so I could explore the rock. It was incredibly beautiful, but nothing compared against that moment when the seal pup popped up and locked eyes with me. What a fantastic way to cap my exploration of the Samuel Boardman trail.
I hiked and jogged back down the beach filled with the wonder of life and three things on my face: the sun, a cool breeze and my smile. They felt really good together. They agreed to meet there more often.
It was one of those moments you wish you could freeze-frame and live in forever.
So you do.
At the end of the long, solitary beach, I came across a fellow named Peter playing fetch with his dog, a beautiful Doberman pinscher. I had met them both about a month prior. Peter and I chatted for a while about hikes and beautiful weather and how I like to write about them for the paper.
Then came the plea. Yup. "Please don't write about this beach down here."
Don't hate me, Peter. I can not change what I am.
So it goes.
One more for the road: Don't forget your water, snack and a jacket.