Slept in until 8am today, the hiker sites are just so quiet and peaceful. (Well, after dark anyhow. The squirrels attacked us as we sat at our campfire last night. At least 30 green pinecones were hurled down at us along with lots of “yelling” within about 15 minutes. It was hilarious.) We had to fill our extra water bottles today, as we expect to camp on the beach with no fresh water available. The plan is to go up and over Cape Lookout down to Sand Lake, about 8 miles.
The Oregon Coast Trail is so rarely signed that we had to take this picture opportunity as we started up the north side. The little peace sign at the top is the official OCT logo.
It was a hard 2.5 mile slog up, lots of mud and slippery spots. At the top (at the very crowded trailhead parking lot) we set up our little stools and took a snack break and cooled down. With our sweaty clothes and the cold breeze, we cooled off fast. Then we were freezing. Oh nature. Off we go down the south side. This was a better maintained trail, with lots of switchbacks and pretty trees.
Out on the cape tip, the part shrouded in the clouds, is where ALL those people were headed. Not much of a view from that trail.
Two miles later we reach the beach. Cape Lookout is still in the clouds.
In fact, being in the fog and clouds is the theme of this whole trip so far. The sun is rare.
After about a mile down this lovely deserted beach we reach a sign (facing away from us) denoting the end of the motorized vehicle zone. Just past it, the beach is simply torn to shreds by tracks of all shapes and sizes. We have unknowingly wandered into a huge off-road vehicle playground. With the fog thickening and limiting sight distance, we warily moved southward. Suddenly out of the fog comes a low drone and 8 sets of headlights appear, heading right for us. Awesome. We had to walk the last two beach miles hoping not to get hit by a dune buggy, ATV, dirt bike or jeep, as they did circles around us. I have never felt so slow and vulnerable. Right near the mouth of Sand Lake (which we weren’t going to ford as we were an hour past low tide) we run into dunes and ORVs buzzing everywhere. The only thing to do is climb up and over and see what’s on the other side. Camping on the beach is NOT an option anymore. We climb a huge dune (so hard to do) and on the other side is the huge Sand Lake ORV Playground, with the parking lot off into the distance. (Why are we so surprised? Both the blog and guidebook we are following did not mention any of this, they mostly detailed how to ford the mouth of Sand Lake.) Off through the sand we trudge, hoping to not get hit. Once in the parking lot we confirm that indeed, the campground is closed for construction. They have converted 1/2 of the day-use parking lot into an RV campground, not very welcoming. The problem? We are at least 7 miles from the next camping option and we are exhausted already.
A Forest Ranger takes pity on us and directs us to the fence area where we can stay the night for free. In this shot you can see that we are up on a little dune, just above the parking lot/campground, right next to the main ORV pathway. It was insanely noisy, windy and sandy. We cooked a quick meal, then retreated to the tent, where we read more of our book and tried to get some sleep. A hard day, overall.