Monday, August 20, 2018

A week-long section hike in the Oregon Dunes and beyond

My friends Paula and Mile just spent seven days hiking the OCT from Florence to Floras Lake. They had hiked the northern half (Columbia River to Florence) last October and had intended to pick up the southern half this summer but stopped short due to injury (tendonitis). But up to that point they really enjoyed this week-long walk. If you’re looking for a more remote OCT section hike that includes some undeveloped camping (as well as, in their case, motel and hiker-biker camps), this is a good one.

Four main takeaways for me:
  • ·        Beware of ticks in the marshes along the Oregon Dunes in midsummer.
  • ·        Avoid camping at the RV park in Winchester Bay if you can.
  • ·        Preschedule your cab rides or be prepared to wait.
  • ·        Do your best to hit every coastal river mouth at low tide, because sand volume fluctuates from year to year and even through the season, and you never know which ones will be easy (or hard) to cross.

Oh, and the bus system works well getting to and from (and up and down) the coast.

Here’s a secondhand day-by-day account of their trip:

DAY 1: FLORENCE TO CARTER LAKE. After taking a bus from Eugene to Florence, they walked the highway/road to the beach at the south jetty and headed south down the beach. They were surprised (as I was, hearing about it) how high the Siltcoos River was—nearly waist-deep. Which is a good reminder of how unpredictable the coastal river mouth depths are. Took the trail through the dunes to Carter Lake Campground for the night.

DAY 2: CARTER LAKE TO WINCHESTER BAY. Continued down the beach to the Umpqua South Jetty and got a boat ride across the bay mouth—prearranged—to Winchester Bay. Spent an unpleasant night camping in the RV campground there (other guests were doing Johnny Cash karaoke until late into the night); they tried to get a motel room but the town was booked solid. Presumably they filled extra water bottles here, anticipating a night of camping in the dunes.

DAY 3: WINCHESTER BAY TO TENMILE CREEK. Continued down the beach to the mouth of Tenmile Creek. Here they bushwacked inland into the marsh, looking for a campsite. It was gorgeous, they say, but they couldn’t find a decent place to camp, so they returned to the beach—and found themselves covered with ticks. After picking off the ticks, they settled into a campsite in the dunes about a half-mile south of Tenmile Creek (off the beach, outside of the plover restriction zone).

Camp kitchen in the dunes
DAY 4: TENMILE CREEK TO NORTH BEND. Continued south to Horsfall Beach access. Attempted to get a cab from here to North Bend/Coos Bay, but all the cabs were busy and—long story short—they wound up walking all the way into North Bend, where they got a motel room.

DAY 5: SEVEN DEVILS ROAD TO BULLARDS BEACH STATE PARK. They prearranged a cab for early this morning (8 am); it arrived promptly, and they had the cab drop them off along Seven Devils Road. (So they skipped Charleston/Cape Arago entirely). They walked the road (paved, then gravel, then paved again briefly) back to the beach at Seven Devils State Recreation Site. They timed their start to get around Fivemile Point at mid-low tide. They continued down the beach to Bullards Beach State Park hiker-biker camp, which was full to bursting with both OCT hikers and US 101 cyclists.

HIker-biker camp, Bullards Beach State Park

DAY 6: BULLARD BEACH TO NEW RIVER BIVOUAC CAMPSITE. They walked into Bandon and resumed walking the beach south. They had no trouble crossing New River (only one outlet now, and barely a trickle when they crossed; again, you never know about these coastal rivers) and camped at the BLM bivouac site north of Floras Lake and loved it (using water they carried from Bullards Beach).

DAY 7: NEW RIVER CAMPSITE TO FLORAS LAKE. They continued down the beach to Floras Lake. From here they walked out to the town of Langlois (on US 101) and caught a bus north to Coos Bay, where they spent a night in a motel before catching another bus back to Eugene.

Had they continued, they would have encountered more wild camping opportunities at Blacklock Point and a hiker-biker camp at Cape Blanco. Not until Port Orford is there bus access (via Curry Public Transit).

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and inspirational hiking experiences. Worth reading and sharing for reference.