Washburne/China Creek Loops

July 7, 2008

After cancellations and no-shows we had seven congenial hikers on a day of absolutely wonderful weather and astonishing scenery. We were surprised to find the day area parking lot closed at Washburne State Park (they were striping the lot), but the camp hosts let us park in the campground, close to the north trail to the beach. This meant extending the hike along the surf at low tide a bit, to no one’s objection. And, when Dick Hildreth asked if he could go beyond the Hobbit Trail entrance all the way to the base of Heceta Head, we all joined him. Tide permitting, this will now become part of my Washburne hikes. The sight of Heceta Head looming above you as you draw nearer and nearer is eye-popping. The variety of vegetation on the headland is surprising in its colorations. What, at a distance, appeared to be bird guano turned out to be white moss or fungi (I’ll have to ask someone who knows).

The real Hobbit Trail is now a quite short stretch, with the upper portion completely blocked by intentionally placed debris and limbs. A rabbit did cross our path near the top, however. Rabbit. Hobbit. We’re getting closer to spotting one, I think.

A short stop at the beaver pond and then it was lunchtime in the meadow, which was carpeted with bright yellow flowers. This “Sound of Music” scene made it difficult for us to leave.

The China Creek Loop was impressive, as always. Mary Ellen West had tipped me off to a murder mystery along the trail from the meadow back to the campground. Someone had died in a cabin fire years ago, but the body had never been found. She said you could still see the ivy covered chimney. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember any details. We couldn’t spot the chimney, but the camp hostess told us the event occured more than a century ago and you had to go off the trail a bit to see the remains of the cabin. I’ll do my best to find out more about this juicy story before I lead this hike again. Even a great hike like this can be enhanced with a bit of murder and mystery.

Joining us on the hike was Rosemary Camozzi, editor of Oregon Coast and Northwest Magazines. She seemed to enjoy the hike as much as we enjoyed having her with us. We followed the hike with celebratory ice cream treats at BJs.

Hikers were: Rosemary Camozzi, Kathy Floyd, Dick HIldreth, Marshall Kandell (leader), Sam Miller, Margaret Prentice and Lamonte Smith.

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