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Last run down coast

A lid of fog hovers over Oregon headlands

August 24/Day 38. By 7:30 a.m. I hitch up the 5th wheel and I’m carefully threading my way through the narrow interior roads that make up the campgrounds of Bullard’s Beach, eager, as always when I settle in behind the steering wheel, to hit the road. It’s only 113 miles down the coast to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, which is situated at the most northern tip of California.

Sea and sky

Sea and sky

I’ve been too harsh in my judgment of Bullard’s Beach. At first, following my stay in the enchanted forest at Beverly Beach, Bullard’s Beach seemed prosaic and uninspiring. But the longer I stayed, the more activities I discovered and it turns out the Bullard’s Beach is a perfect staging area for many adventures.

I intend to take my time driving south, stopping at some of the many scenic viewpoints and state parks along the way. Fog, however, intervenes. Sometimes it’s thick and impenetrable as gray gauze. When I stop, I can hear the pounding surf below the cliffs, but can’t see it; sometimes the fog sends wispy tendrils inland from the sea, tumbling in pinwheels as it moves like the delicate hair of a baby’s head. Other times fog hovers overhead, a heavy leaden lid that blocks the sun, or, teasingly, retreats offshore in a distant fog bank, ready to make another assault on the coast.

Big rocks

Only a few stops along the way afford me the chance to see the surf and the ocean beyond. I linger at these and often climb down the paths that lead from the viewpoints 200 feet above. I wander freely over the expanse of sand, marveling at how different each beach is from the others, yet how the same. One, called Arizona Beach, has black sand, unusual if not unique for Oregon. It’s a small crescent beach about a quarter mile long, anchored on each end by a bulwark of cliffs. You would not want to be stranded on a beach like this with an unusually high tide rolling in.

Hole in a rock

Hole in rock

The southern part of Oregon’s coast is much more rugged than farther north, and the small villages less frequent. The forest thickens and the trees rise taller; the mountains reach right down to the shore, the surf sometimes smashing directly into their bare, rocky roots causing huge plumes of spray to shoot skyward. The coast highway is chiseled into the mountain flanks, curving left and right, up and down, as the topography dictates.

Finally the road turns away from the coast. Jedediah Smith State Park is located in an old-growth grove some six or eight miles inland from the beach. The narrow highway to it snakes among prodigious redwoods, some rising eight feet wide directly from the edge of the pavement. They wouldn’t register even a shiver if a vehicle missed a curve and smashed into one, so massive are they. A few soar to over 300 feet; the average mature tree is over 250.

You would think trees of this size would be visible, but no, it’s not always so. At my new campsite  I attempt again to shoehorn the trailer into location  that was designed, I think, by an avid tent camper. With no one to spot for me I get out of the truck and try to memorize what’s behind me and which way the trailer must point as I back it. I back very slowly, getting in and out of the truck to spot many times. As I roll back the last few inches I feel a slight hesitation, as though a tire was running over a small rock.

Nope. I have backed directly into a tree big as a house, the protruding bicycle rack hanging on the trailer’s ladder making just enough contact to bend the ladder inward

Trailer parked next to the tree that insulted my ladder

about 3 inches. I pull forward a couple of feet and call it good enough, pissed at myself for making these stupid mistakes. A good spotter is invaluable when maneuvering a big rig like this. Luckily I have a six foot length of 2×4 in the truck bed; I use to pry the ladder back into position. When I finish, I can’t see that any harm was done. I’ve been pulling this trailer for eight years without making a mark on it, so what’s up? Two hits on the trip so far and I’m only at the half-way point.

I go to the fireside program in the amphitheater at 8:00 p.m. to listen to a talk called “Old Growth.” From the title, I expect it to be about me. To my disappointment, however, it’s about old growth forests.

After the program I chat with Ranger Debi, the evening’s speaker, about various trails in the park. The subject of plantar fasciitis comes up, along with my lack of trekking poles. She generously offers to bring hers in tomorrow so I can borrow them for a couple of days. Offer graciously accepted.

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