Florence, Oregon provided excellent access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Along this stretch of coast the cliffs gave way to large hills of sand. We spent the morning investigating various trails among the dunes and drove to our southern terminus in Coos Bay.
In the afternoon we hiked towards the ocean. We had trouble negotiating a trail with sporadically placed markers and few natural landmarks other than sand. As we reached each trail post we scanned the horizon for the next small dot representing a marker, and headed towards it. Sometimes we couldn't see the dot and climbed to the top of the nearest dune to try again. Although we always headed in the right general direction, we traveled in a zigzag more than a straight line.
Finally we crossed the sand and reached a strip of tattered shrubs and grassland a few hundred yards from the beach. Spring rains had turned the area into a swamp. We remembered our mud hiking lessons from Hawaii and turned back, close to our objective but a little short. We now knew the straight-line return path so hiking back took much less time. My wife captured the image above just after we turned around. The storm moved well to the east and never threatened us but we failed to grasp the foreshadowing.
Although not apparent in the photograph, just outside of camera range were backpacks containing water, snacks, extra clothing, and waterproof jackets. And by the way, hiking five miles through sand is tough!
We cut across to Interstate 5 and continued leisurely north to Eugene. The proximity of University of Oregon provided a typical "college town" feel. As an added bonus we found FIVE brewpubs within easy walking distance of each other and our Inn.
During our crawl the skies finally broke open and it rained for most of the next three days.
= Umpqua River Lighthouse & State Park, Reedsport, OR
= Eugene to The Dalles to Portland, OR
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