Sunset Bay-Cape Arago

September 24, 1983

Most of our drive was shrouded in grey as we drove along the Umpqua on Rte 42 to the coast. But our entrance to the parking lot at Sunset Bay was marked by a parting of the clouds, just as the weatherman had promised; sun burst out in a blazing blue sky that remained with us throughout the hike, and a wonderful surprise awaited us at Cape Arago, making this a very special day.

No matter how many times one walks here, the marine terrace between Sunset Bay and Cape Arago has more splendors than can possibly be realized in one sighting. The first viewpoint seems to hold it all, and yet each succeeding stop offers further evidence of elemental forces that have been building up and carving away this sculptured landscape-by-the-sea. The ocean was not churning this day, and foam-crested only around the standing offshore formations. Where the trail lies closer to the road and away from the shoreline, a few of our group attempted to follow one of the small subtrails which veer off to take one nearer to the beach below. After a short time, however, it became apparent that Alice’s rabbithole had a lot in common with this particular descent, so we backtracked to join the wiser group to experience the scene in the customary order: long views of lighthouse beyond dipping formations, then closer-up views of the sandstone erosion and concretions and sea palms around Shore Acres.

Seals and sea lions were once more tuning up for what must surely be the supreme rock concert on the coast. But the most exciting animal attraction was to occur off Cape Arago. It happened that not only did Ron and Whitey avail themselves of a leisurely swim in the quiet water in the sheltered beach area south of the Cape, but as we kept one eye on them and munched our lunches on the sunny slope above, a grey whale surfaced only a few hundred yards offshore and blew a spout that brought our intrepid leader to his feet. Jack has been waiting lo, these three years of coast hikes, for his first whale. This one did all in its power to make up for the wait, surfacing frequently (could it be two??) and spouting generously. After it disappeared, we consoled ourselves by heading for the perfumed civilized delights of the Shore Acres gardens, which seem to be better than ever this year.

Coast hikers were Amy Clugston, Joe and Phyllis Early, Ron Golan, Gladys Grancorvitz, Karen Houglum, Janet Landers, Ruth and Wayne Lill, Whitey Lueck, Mary Musa, Ben Ross, Allan Sorenson, and leaders Dallas and Jack Cole.


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