Sunday, May 17, 2009

Harris Beach State Park

I finally, FINALLY, got my feet -- yes, my bare feet -- upon a beach this morning. And as so often happens, after my fruitless driving and hiking in search of a beach, this one is actually within walking distance from home, within the Brookings city limits. Since the morning dawned bright and sunny and fog-free, I satisfied my early-riser instincts and left home around 7:30am for the short walk north on the highway. It can't be more than a mile, door to door, with perhaps only half that actually along the highway. There are paved bike and pedestrian paths for much of the way nearer the park.

This is not a place where one can walk right onto the beach. The parking lot sits on a bluff and you just about have to at least get out of your car to take in the entirety of the view. A paved path travels in switchbacks down the bluff to the beach, but it's fairly steep and takes a good effort to walk back uphill, so if this degree of activity doesn't appeal to you, I'd advise finding another beach. It worked just fine for me.

It's no secret to anyone who's been reading this for awhile that I love the early morning light on a beach. There's a sparkle, a magic, that appeals to me. This was a great beach for walking barefoot -- lots of clean sand, easily avoidable rocks, and while the water temp certainly wouldn't fool anyone into thinking they were in Mexico, an occasional wash of surf against ankles felt good. On the other hand, this area is a marine sanctuary and at the right tide shoes would make tide-pooling more feasible.

Another reason for barefoot beachwalking is the many streams that cross the beach as they funnel out of the hills. Almost always, these are too deep and too wide for crossing without getting wet feet. Mostly, I do it because it just plain feels good.

I could have walked further along this beach in either direction -- it's expansive and varied -- but once I was at least temporarily sated, I retraced my path home. In total, about an hour and 45 minutes of walking that couldn't have been much nicer -- that warm sunshine felt fabulous. And just because this one is so available doesn't stop the quest for others that are less available. It's the search and exploration I enjoy, as much as the fact of actually finding a beach.

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