Friday, November 27, 2009

Indian Sands -- and A Few Other Spots

Surf crashing off the Indian Sands area

I took advantage of an unexpected bit of sunshine this morning and headed out on a short hike in an effort to see some places I hadn't seen, and to play with my new camera.  My first stop was at the Indian Sands viewpoint, which is just south of the Thomas Creek Bridge viewpoint. The above photo was taken using the camera's extreme (24x) zoom, and I'm pleased with the results.  Not great focus on the exploding waves, but I suspect I could have controlled that by using manual adjustments rather than leaving it on automatic.

Off into the forest I went, to see what I could see.  I found the trails here to be really confusing.  Shortly after starting down the trail there is a fork -- a nice looking trail angles off to the left, and what appears to be the main trail continues straight ahead.  I opted to stay with the 'main' trail, but almost immediately the trail forked once more.  No signs of any kind.  For no particular reason, I opted for the trail to the right, as they both went downhill and I assumed they'd either meet up again shortly, or at least both take me to the same place.  In the end, that's what happened.

The trail I took is nicely cut with switchbacks that take some of the sting out of the fairly steep descent.  Lots of offshoot trails branch off this one, but I found it easy to follow what I assumed was the primary trail. Both this and the other trail did end up at the same spot, where a warning sign tells of dangers ahead in the sands and cliffs.  Some amount of scrambling is needed from this point to reach the Oregon Coast Trail, but there are several choices with greater and lesser degrees of difficulty.  When I returned, I decided to take the other trail, to be sure it ended up at the same place and to see what I missed.  This trail is steep and straight, not one switchback, and is fairly slippery with packed clay, particularly on a day after a hard rain.  There was enough forest duff along the sides of the trail to stay with and avoid slipping, but given a choice, I'd opt for the other, longer, trail with switchbacks.

Lots of mushrooms out in the forest today, including a few of these, which have always fascinated me.  You see them in forests everywhere, but you don't really want to mess with them.  They are mildly poisonous, also hallucinogenic.  It's the amanita muscaria -- not to be confused with its cousin, the amanita verna, or destroying angel, which is deadly.

Indian Sands is a large area of craggy dunes that are not particularly soft.  Much of that sandy-looking stuff is actually a hard, somewhat slippery, substance that's probably a result of continuous exposure to high winds.  Much of it is also sand.  I would have explored more today, but the winds were really strong and a bit obnoxious, so I opted to cut my visit short.  This is my second outing to this particular point, although from a different trailhead.  I'd hoped to continue on across that ridge, but -- it just wasn't fun.

Back in the car, I headed south towards Brookings but stopped at the House Rock viewpoint.  Again, the winds were strong and annoying, so I only stayed for a moment.  Lovely views, however, and plenty of hiking opportunities.

Interesting how the camera captured this image of Whaleshead Island in black and white.  I took this photo from another stop, a wide pullout just before reaching Brookings.  I loved the way the waves looked in the glare, and wondered how the new camera would handle such conditions. 

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