Moving to Hawaii • Hiking Saddle Mountain • The Oregon Coast • September 16, 2017
Our main reason for having our cross-country journey end in Oregon was because my brother Grant had recently moved to Portland, and we were excited to be able to visit him in his new home state! After admiring the mountains in Oregon’s coastal range from Cape Disappointment, we researched the hiking and read that Saddle Mountain was the highest peak in the area and was under 5 miles round trip. We threw that out as a suggestion, and Grant bravely agreed to join us for the hike.
The plan was to meet at the trailhead around 10 on Saturday morning. This absolutely goes against our policy of getting an early start on hikes, especially on weekends and near big cities, but it wasn’t too bad to begin with. When we arrived, the parking lot seemed to be filling up. The perimeter of the lot had hardly any vacant spots, and people were starting to form a row in the middle. However, we didn’t feel like we came across that many people on the trail. We reunited with my brother (who brought Krispy Kremes — score!) and began our hike.
The trail started with a gradual ascent through the lush forest, which we loved just as much as our last hike. However, as we got higher and came to our first vista, we only then realized it was incredibly hazy. The day before hadn’t been too bad, and we had only driven through the forest that morning so we hadn’t had a chance to see just how bad the visibility was. Thankfully the smoke in the air wasn’t very noticeable, so we decided to continue on. (This was around the time when the Eagle Creek wildfire was burning in the Columbia River Gorge.)
As we came above the forested area, we noticed that there were metal grates on top of much of the sloped sections of trail. At first we avoided it and tried to walk around, but soon realized why it was there: the dirt was very sandy and loose, and since this was a very popular trail it is suffering from overuse. We honestly hadn’t seen trails like this before, and felt a little guilty being here. I almost wish we had done a much more obscure trail that I could share with this site. This year I’ve been learning about more ways to live in such a way that’s more friendly to the environment, and what I’ve found most interesting and applicable to our lifestyle is how hiking and sharing about hikes online affects trails. By having many people share about one certain exciting hike with great views, it naturally brings more and more hikers to that one trail, and the trail may not be fit to handle so many footsteps. Another example is when we hiked in the South, we noticed the negative effects of many people cutting off switchbacks (more so than other places we’ve hiked). Alternatively, when a trail receives less attention by hikers, it becomes overgrown and harder to maintain. I honestly still have a lot to learn about these issues, and clearly we don’t abide by what we’ve learned as we spent the majority of this vacation visiting popular attractions and not seeking out obscure places. I think it’s good to be conscious of though, and to continue learning about ways to preserve the environment.
Anyway, I digress. The metal grates over the trail ended up being a life saver, especially when going downhill. I would have been much less confident had they not been there. We climbed up the side of one mountain which ended up being a false peak, and finally came into view of Saddle Mountain and the long, daunting ridge to get there. We first had to descend down the ridge before we could climb back up. There wasn’t a lot of shade here, so this area was very exposed to the sun. After the final push, we made it to the end, and found that there was only one other couple at the top. Unfortunately though, there was hardly any view because of the smoke. We still sat down and enjoyed a light lunch together before beginning our hike back down. There were so many more hikers headed up as we descended, and the parking lot was packed with vehicles parked at least a quarter to a half-mile down the narrow road to the trailhead. We enjoyed this hike, but as I mentioned, I wouldn’t return or recommend it because of how popular it is. There are plenty of other hikes in Oregon’s coastal mountain range!
Grant hadn’t been to the Pacific Coast yet, so we decided to head West to a few different attractions. While driving down 101 the day before, Curtis was reminiscing about what he had learned from when he read about Lewis and Clark, and we had noticed several historic sites that looked interesting. We couldn’t go without visiting one, so we decided to visit Fort Clatsup. Fort Clatsup is where the explorers set up camp for the winter of 1805-1806 before beginning their long journey back. There was a recreation of the fort that we were able to tour, as well as a 5 mile trail that goes out to the coast — we decided to pass on that since we had already worn ourselves out with our morning hike! My favorite part was a large map right outside the visitor’s center, where they had placed pins and note cards sharing where they were on that day in each year that the expedition took place.
The day was coming to an end, but we decided to make one last stop at another beach just to admire the natural beauty of the coast: Cannon Beach. This is another very popular town and tourist attraction, but this evening at low tide, the beach was so wide that it didn’t feel crowded. We enjoyed walking on the beach and viewing the high cliffs at Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock. We ended the night by dining at Ruby’s Roadside Grill, which advertised as being dog-friendly so it was an obvious choice. We sat out on the patio and saw plenty of other cute pups, including an adorable golden retriever puppy and a full grown bloodhound, which was basically just a giant Charlie. A great way to end a fun day with my brother!