Saturday, August 12th
The last full day in Oregon – a short and scenic one, ending six miles or so from the California state line. It promised to be a bright day. Sun lit up my tent in the morning for the first time. I picked blackberries to add to my breakfast from a hedge which bordered our section of the campground and looked forward to the day ahead.
For the first few miles, just after 8am, sun gave the road and it’s twists and turns a sweet golden glow. Though by the time I stopped to make coffee on top of picnic bench in a small parking area at Ophir beach this had faded and the familiar greyness returned.
The road ran close and level to the ocean for sometime, once it came inland a small section of the old highway provided some relief from the 101 and brought me closer to the sea again. It was bumpy and narrow but free of four wheeled traffic. After a few miles it wrapped around the Rogue River and climbed up to Peterson Bridge which I crossed into Gold Beach – town which sadly failed at living up to its name.
I restocked on dinner, breakfast, and snack supplies from a local supermarket then got a sandwich at Subway. I calculated that I had eaten three feet of Subway in Oregon.
I ran into Jason who’d been in the same campgrounds for the past 5 days, we chatted for a bit and then I continued. I would run into him again later at the side of the road where he’d stopped to smoke pot and gaze at the big rocks in the sea.
From Gold Beach onward to Brookings the coast was sprinkled with coves, rocks, viewpoints, trails, hikes and overlooks. It was impossible to stop and see it all.
Straight out of Gold Beach was a long tough climb up to cape Sebastian at 712 feet. From here a fast downhill brought me to just above sea level again, and massive sea stacks dotted the shoreline into the distance.
I stopped at Arch Rock viewpoint a few miles later, then Natural Bridges Cove, before crossing Thomas Creek bridge (the highest bridge on the Oregon coast). Multiple viewpoints followed between here and the campsite – Harris state beach – eight miles away, but I’d run out of steam. Often the viewpoint would be up an incredibly steep slope, or only accessible by a trail. One of the constant battles when cycling touring is knowing when to pause and step off the bike. It can be difficult to get the balance right, especially when every turnoff not taken feels like a missed opportunity.
But I was focused on getting to the state park and exploring the beach there once I’d set up camp. I’d also heard there would be laundry at the campground – this turned out not to be true. But it was a pleasant enough place, despite the hiker/biker campsite being inhabited by at least a couple of homeless guys – one who was friendly and played a 12 string guitar and had a cart attached to he rear of his bike which was home to a small dog he travelled with, and one not so friendly one who I only knew from the shouting coming from inside a tent near mine.
I took a walk down to the beach after showering and washing my clothes in a sink, hoping that they’d dry overnight now the evening was warmer.
Down on the beach the sand which was covered in large pieces of driftwood, some organised into small teepee-like structures, others had been stacked and arranged into abstract sculptures. The sun and wind were strong and it felt good to let it all hit you. On the horizon the sky was darkened and it looked like a storm was on the way.