Admission to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, aka where the lighthouse is, was free on Veteran’s Day, so I put on my hiking shoes, left Annie home and went exploring. Why not take the dog? Sometimes I like to hike without being pulled from smell to smell.
On this break between rainy days, I wanted to go beyond the tourist sites we always show to visitors, who are not usually up for endless stairways and steep trails. They always want to see the lighthouse, which is wonderful, and then we view the exhibits at the visitors’ center, but there’s more.
First I walked the Cobble Beach, which is all rounded black rocks, not easy to negotiate, but fascinating. The waves crackle as they wash over the rocks and splash high over the bigger rocks sticking out of the water. Access to the beach requires many wooden stairways. I had to stop halfway to collapse on a bench and gasp.
Next was the view at the very end outside the lighthouse: more rocks, harbor seals, cormorants and pelicans flying by.
Then the big challenge, the Salal Trail. Now, the sign says it takes 12 minutes each way. Uh, right. What about photo stops and breathing breaks? The trail is well managed, and the views require photos, but it gets a little steep here and there.
I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about being alone, about how I do things like this hike solo when everyone else I see is in groups or couples. Is it safe? Is it foolish? What if I had a heart attack or sprained my ankle?
As it was, I only suffered a new blister and wished I had brought water, a walking stick and a backpack instead of stuffing camera, keys, phones, notebook and pen in my pockets. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to say “I’ll go that way” without having to consult with anybody.
Last stop was the quarry cove tide pools. It being high tide, I didn’t see much tide pool action, but I did see a woman much older than me walking alone. Yes! We can do it.
There’s another trail, a little longer, from Quarry Cover to the Interpretive Center, which I left for another day. I wouldn’t advise trying any of these walks in sandals or dress shoes. I was grateful for my sturdy hiking shoes.
The interior of the lighthouse is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the winter, but the interpretive center is open daily, and the wildlife, include whales, is available 24/7. The usual admission to the park is $7 per vehicle.
My runaway day was a good break between writing projects. Of course when I got home, my dog sniffed me all over accusingly and then demanded her own walk. My feet hurt, but I strapped on the leash and off we went.
[All content copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2015. Please do not republish without permission.]