11/2019: Boise, Coastal Oregon/California

11/1 – 11/18

Hanging out in Boise. We did a fair amount of biking around the foothills and worked on the house. Lisa hosted an art show with canvases and other media, which was lots of fun.


We left Boise in the van to spend some time traveling around oregon and california. After leaving around noon we made it to cascade locks and stayed in a very quiet campground next to the river. It felt good to be back in the van.


In the morning we went for a hike to upper horsetail falls in the gorge, a pretty and short hike and one of the only trails open in much of the gorge after the fire two years ago. Afterwards we drove to Salem to see Lisa’s brother and his family, spending the afternoon and evening with them.


We went to the Silver Falls area to do a nice loop hike to see upper and lower south falls, both of which were really pretty and took us behind the falls.


In the morning we headed to the coast, arriving at the south beach campground near NewPort around noon. We walked to the beach to check it out, and while the swell was pretty high there was a protected area inside the jetty and it was nice and sunny. I went surfing afterwards while Lisa checked out the beach. I had fun, getting about 10 pretty small rides on the inside, though I was having some issues dealing with the cold water: I didn’t have enough neoprene, and the board felt very slick with the wax I was using. There were a couple other surfers making their way back after having gotten sucked out too far by a rip current next to the jetty; they had to paddle back to the jetty itself and walk it in bare feet, definitely have to be careful with conditions when they are like this.


After visiting a surf shop in the morning we headed to the Devil’s Punchbowl viewing area north of Newport. The viewpoint here was really nice and the swell still pretty heavy, but I was interested in checking out the surf break inside the headland here. It looked really nice and I went surfing for a couple hours, getting about 30 rides. The changes I made to my setup (softer wax, undershirt with hood) made a big difference and I had a lot of fun, taking it pretty easy catching rides in chest deep water. Only a few other people out despite it being a sunny saturday. Afterwards we drove to Yaquina Head and did a short hike to see and explore the tidepools here, very pretty area but crowded and tightly controlled by the BLM.


After lunch in town we went back to the Devil’s Punchbowl area. I went surfing and got 30 more rides, better today as I was getting used to things, lots of fun but surfing mostly whitewater or waves closing out on the beach. Afterwards we went to look for clams under the bridge on the south side of Yaquina bay, there were some other people out with one guy being very nice and helpful. In the end we didn’t return with any clams, though Lisa almost got one that she was digging up but managed to slip away somehow.


It was kind of rainy and after doing some errands in town we headed south, stopping at the sea lion caves attraction halfway to Coos Bay. This was an interesting stopover, it was nice to watch all the steller sea lions in the cave with large waves plowing through frequently, very moody with the soft light from the sea spray and the echoing growls. Afterwards we continued on and stayed at the Sunset Bay campground.


After hanging out in the morning we continued south, rainy weather but alright until we got to Port Orford, where we were exposed to some extremely strong winds coming from the south (40kt+). We stopped to watch the storm and feel the van rock uncomfortably in the wind, then tried to head further south but soon turned around. We headed back to the Cape Blanco campground to spend the night, the trees above us swaying a lot but there weren’t many big branches that could come down and fall on us or the van. This was a nice place to spend the night, very quiet.


The weather was calm and gray in the morning, and we walked on some of the trails near the campground, along the nearby bluffs overlooking the sea and the lighthouse here. It was pretty cold and we didn’t stay out too long, then continued driving south. We went down to Crescent City and found a campsite (most campgrounds were closed though due to the storm), then did some hiking in the drizzle off a nearby road in the redwoods. This was very pretty but we didn’t have a map or any way of navigating and after trying to do a loop hike we were pretty concerned with how long the road portion was taking. We did find the van in the end but it was a reminder to be careful about this stuff even when we are doing something easy.


Thanksgiving! We tried to hike the damnation creek trail but couldn’t find the trailhead, so we went to the endert’s creek trailhead and went biking along the last chance section of the coastal trail. After a nice little section above cliffs along the coast, we started climbing on singletrack for about 1000′ of vertical. Lots of hike-a-biking, though the grade mellowed higher up and we were able to bike much of the way. Lots of trees down on the trail made the going pretty difficult. After topping out on the climb the trail was pretty fun and level, but the brush got worse and we turned around pretty quickly. Fun descent on the way back. Afterwards we drove to the beach just south of Crescent City and I went surfing. The swell was winding down and while there were some larger waves further out, I stayed in chest deep water and got 30 rides on the waves that were the right height to break at that level. Lots of fun. We went back to camp in the redwoods afterwards and had a nice meatless thanksgiving dinner together.


In the morning we went back to the beach to go surfing together. The swell was smaller than yesterday and conditions were really mellow and fun. Lisa was getting belly rides on her foamie in the shallower water, while I was in chest deep water and going for similar waves to the ones yesterday, with very few large waves washing over me. I got 30 more rides, really nice. As we stayed out a fair number of other surfers were going out as well, and by the end there were 10 or so longboarders enjoying the surf, a really nice and uncrowded scene. Afterwards we went and hiked the upper part of the damnation creek trail, having done more research to see where the (totally unmarked!) trailhead is. This was nice, with great views of the redwoods and some traffic noise from the 101, similar downed trees to the trail we rode yesterday but easier to manage on foot.

While we would have liked to spend more time in Crescent City, there was more gross weather in the forecast and we needed to get closer to the bay. We left to drive south, staying at the Clam Beach campground (basically just a parking lot, though uncrowded) north of Eureka. We went for a hike along the beach, enjoying the late afternoon light and a frisbee we found on the beach (and returned to its owner later). There was a seagull on the beach pecking at a crab whose pincers had been removed. I picked up the crab and tossed it in the surf, but it was pretty far gone and the seagull just waited for us to leave before collecting the crab again and flying off.


We drove south, sticking around Arcata in the morning so Lisa could visit a hot tub she’d enjoyed on a previous trip through the area. We continued on afterwards, taking the scenic avenue of the giants route through the humboldt redwoods park but not doing much out of the car. The weather was drizzly most of the day with some periods of strong winds but still manageable. We didn’t see a single open government campground all day (maybe due to the storm, but california’s coastal camping options are limited compared to oregon’s) and ended up staying at a hotel in Ukiah.

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