Cape San Sebastian


By the time I reached Cape San Sebastian, it was late afternoon, and I was driving through almost constant rain.  I was restless and determined to get out of the car, and hike somewhere,anywhere, for just a little while.  So, I decided to start down a trail, not knowing where it went.

Cape San Sebastian (and Cape Sebastian State Park) is south of Gold Beach on US 101.

There’s something nice about walking down a trail, when you don’t know where you’re headed.  It’s relaxing and exciting all at the same time.  It’s also kinda nice to hike in the rain.  It adds an element of stillness and quiet you wouldn’t get on a normal day.

I drove out to the parking area, then picked a direction, and started walking.  I was on a section of the Pacific Coast Trail, and it felt like I was heading towards the end of the cape.

The shrubbery that surrounded the path gradually grew taller and taller, until I reached a point where the path became a tunnel.  Passing through, it seemed almost as if I was walking into some kind of secret, enchanted, magical forest.

Okay, I had been cooped up in the car too long.

There were only a couple of breaks in the vegetation.  This was one of them: a viewpoint looking out on a rocky outcropping.  In the distance, somewhere in the fog, is the Pacific Ocean.  I could hear it, just couldn’t see it.

A little further, another view opened up at the side of the path.  This picture was taken looking almost straight down.  For a moment I could see the ocean, several hundred feet below.  But when I looked out, instead of straight down, it was impossible to tell where the water ended, and the fog began.

As I walked on, the trail started heading downhill.  I thought for certain I would come upon another viewpoint, but I never did.  Just more woods and another stretch of downward-sloping path around every curve.  To my amazement, I crossed paths with one other group of people–presumably the only other people in the entire park that day.  They told me that if I kept going, the path would eventually lead down to a beach, but it was a long way.

So eventually, I turned back.

It’s probably a good thing I did, since after driving just another mile or so…

…the beach came to me, conveniently located at the side of US 101.  I got out of the car and walked down to this wide, sandy beach.  There were sea stacks everywhere, making this beach every bit as beautiful as some of my favorites–like Cannon Beach and Ruby Beach.  The only difference was, I had this beach all to myself.  I mean, completely.  For as far as I could see, up and down the beach, not a single other person.  Sure, it was raining, so what?

I took just a couple more pictures…

… then tucked my camera away, giving it a chance to dry out.  After that, I just wandered, listening to the rain and the surf, and breathing the cool damp air.  It was one of those special moments that occurs without warning on every trip, and before you know it, there’s a memory burned into your past of a place that for a brief moment, was just about perfect.

Of course, that moment eventually ended, and I got back in the car and drove off.

Before arriving in Brookings, Oregon for the night, I drove past a few more nice beaches in Samuel Boardman State Park–which is basically a 12 mile long corridor that runs alongside US 101, providing ocean access in several places.  I passed them all, but stopped at the Thomas Creek Bridge.

It’s there, somewhere in the fog.  I know for sure, only because I drove across it.  A sign at the end of the bridge promised a viewpoint, but I couldn’t find it, even after wandering around on trails through the woods for a few minutes.  So, I had to be satisfied with the view through a chain-link fence.

The Thomas Creek Bridge is the highest bridge in Oregon, at 345 feet.  To put that height in perspective, consider this.  Britton Hill, Florida is 345 feet above sea level, and it is the highest point in the entire state.  Okay, I guess that really doesn’t add much perspective at all.  But my Florida-centric mind immediately drew the parallel.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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