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Sweet Home, Oregon
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July 18, 2012     The New Era Paper
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July 18, 2012
 

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:1, ,g . ra - July 18, 2012 Page 11 Cascades-to-:,00ast trip makes for great day away I stand next to a huge Douglas fir, and feel dwarfed. The tree is at least 6 or 7 feet in diameter and around 500 years old. Around me, this old-growth forest is punctuated by western red cedar and mountain hemlock. Down by the creek some birds are flitting among the willows and alders. I can see yellow on them but can't get a positive ID. Fi- nally, they remain still enough to relinquish their identity - Wilson's warbler and hermit warbler. On a recent trip to the coast, my wife and I stopped to take a few short hikes through the Hack- leman Old Growth Grove along Highway 20 just west of Lost Prai- rie Campground, and McDowell Creek County Park, where we followed a two-mile loop to three beautiful waterfalls, Our base camp at the coast was a vacation house in Waldport. On this trip we spent our time ex- ploring areas to the north, mostly around Lincoln City. Cascade Head is a coast- al headland formed from the 300-mile-long Columbia River basalt lava flow that erupted near Idaho, These huge floods of lava eventually made their way west- ward through the Columbia River Gorge and south along the Oregon Coast. Geologists think these may have been the largest lava floods in the history of the world. Three trailheads access mead- ow viewpoints on this huge head- land. Much of the area is a Nature Conservancy preserve while some is on national forest. We chose the lower trailhead just north of Lin- coln City that begins at the Savage Park boat ramp. Our 3-mile roundtrip hike took us through a forest of large spruce for just over a mile until the trail breaks out into a high mead- ow with great views of the Pacific Ocean and the Salmon River estu- ary. These high meadows are very unique for their prairie-like extent of native species such as red fes- cue, wild rye, Pacific reedgrass, coastal paintbrush, goldenrod, blue violet and streambank lupine. Two rare wildflowers grow on the headland including hairy checkermallow and the Cascade Head catchfly. It has been determined that 99 percent of the catchfly's world population is found only on Cas- cade Head. The federally threat- ened Oregon silverspot butterfly is also found here and only five other locations in the world. The butterfly depends on the early blue violet as food for its lar- vae, which grows only in coastal grassland openings. While taking a break in one of the openings and scanning with my binoculars, 1 happened to pick out a plump cow elk grazing far below. Shortly after spotting her, she lay down in the high grass and virtu- ally disappeared. I wondered if she was ready to have a calf since no other elk could be seen. In the early 1960s, local vol- unteers organized an effort to pro- -,.,,-' TDOORS v -" 3 -,- tt $taats ,J %,0' tect Cascade Head from develop- ment. In 1966 they raised enough money to buy the property, which was then turned over to The Nature Conservancy. Due to its natural significance, Cascade Head Pre- serve and some of the surround- ing lands have won recognition as a National Scenic Research Area and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. One of my favorite things to do at the coast is tide pooling. Dur- ing our visit, low tides occurred between 7 and 10 in the morning so we planned accordingly to be at some of the better tide pools in the area. One great stop was Boiler Bay Wayside between Depot Bay and Lincoln City. According to one guide book, Boiler Bay is a great place to see migrating and resident gray whales. We did see one whale blowing and surfacing no more than a quar- ter mile off shore. It's also known as one of the best sites in Oregon to see ocean- going birds such as shearwaters, jaegers, albatrosses, grebes, peli- cans, loons, oystercatchers and murrelets. The bay boasts some of Or- egon's richest tide pools. Boiler Bay got its name af- ter the vessel J. Marhoffer ran aground in 1910. The 175-foot ship exploded and sank - the only remnant today is the large engine boiler, which can be seen only at very low tides. Witnesses claim debris from the explosion was launched over a half mile inland. One of our last beach hikes was Roads End State Recreation Site, located at the north end of Lincoln City. The first mile is an easy beach walk until the sand ends at a large headland and you have to scramble over some lava rock, where some good tide pool- ing can be found. Since the tide was low, we walked around the tip of the head- land to a small cove and beach with lots of interesting rock formations in and out of the water. From there We could look north to Cascade Head and see where we hiked a few days earlier. We didn't want to stick around there too long, knowing the in- coming tide could trap us. We had to jump from rock to rock and even got a wet foot or two on the way out. Now that the trip is over, I can close my eyes and taste the salty breeze on my lips and hear the calls of the gulls and the crash- ing of the waves. I may have to go back again later this year. Scott Staats is a fulLtime outdoor writer who lives in Prineville. Contact him by e-mail at news@ sweethomenews.com. Please put "For Scott Staats" on the subject line. 10% OFF PARTS & SERVICE ................. ......... WITH THIS AD! 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