A Tale of Two Hikes

I asked my boss last week for a day off. The initial thought was that I would use the day to rest and recuperate from a hectic few weeks. That thought went out the window the moment she signed off. I immediately decided to visit the coast and hit the trail.

But, me being me, I wanted to do it big. So I planned to hike Tillamook Head and Cape Falcon — 13.6 miles, in all.

Tillamook Head

I arrived at the first of two hikes — Tillamook Head — at about 10 a.m. The trail itself gains about 900 feet in two miles before leveling off for another two. The ascent was difficult, as most ascents are, but the hard part came afterward. That high up, the coastal winds are relentless; they just don’t quit. And there I was, in shorts and a T-shirt. You might call me unprepared for the weather; I prefer “optimistic.”

No trail better demonstrates the sheer force of coastal winds and rains than Tillamook Head. There were hundreds downed trees on or near the trail, many of which I ducked under or climbed over along the way. There were dozens of muddy pits that slowed me up. I heard branches creaking and cracking — though, thankfully, never breaking — every few minutes.

All told, there wasn’t much to see. Most would-be viewpoints were obscured by groups of trees, and my final destination was an inland clump of four huts for hikers and campers. I wasn’t bummed that I went, but I don’t need to hike it again. This photo was taken at the best viewpoint that I noticed:

Cape Falcon

From there, it was down to Cannon Beach and Cape Falcon. I’ve already written about Cape Falcon, so I won’t bore you with another recap.

This trip was different. Cape Falcon’s ascents are minor compared to Tillamook Head, but I was beat by that point. Eight miles is a good daily distance, but adding another 5+ felt excessive at times along the way. I took it easy and didn’t push myself, but every ascent ate away at my energy.

The small cove along the way and the viewpoint at the end made it all worth it, though. The only clouds in the sky looked like decorations. The ocean was a deep blue, the sun was shining bright, and it was legitimate “shorts” weather by that point. I soaked in the view and took a few minutes to appreciate that little slice of the world. It was gorgeous.

I could sit on the beach all day and be the happiest guy ever. Watching foamy waves roll in like they’re on a conveyor belt never gets old. There’s something to be said for the serene and peaceful feeling that comes with just relaxing at the coast.

I drove back north to Cannon Beach for dinner. My energy waned in that 20-minute drive. I had nicks, cuts, and scratches all over my body from both hikes; my back ached; and my knees were throbbing. I certainly felt accomplished, but it’s impossible to hike 13+ miles through thick forests and not wind up at least a little tired.

I arrived in Cannon Beach shortly before sunset and decided to enjoy that. I’m glad I did. It made all the difference.

I snapped a few photos before finding a seat on a nearby rock and taking it all in. And you know what? It was beyond breathtaking. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy a picturesque sunset at the coast in early February, but I’m so lucky I took time to appreciate it. It was awesome.

You can probably guess what song ran through my head as the sun set on the horizon. I sat there, transfixed and moved by how utterly beautiful it was. The vibrant yellows and oranges bathed the whole sky.

In those few minutes, all those tired feelings melted away. The lower the sun sunk, the higher my spirits soared. Whatever worries I have didn’t exist for those few moments. I sat there in total awe of the breathtaking sunset and was as “in the moment” as one could possibly be.

As the sun set lower, the crashing waves blocked it out momentarily, literally darkening the whole beach area for a few split seconds. It was surreal. When I walked into the restaurant a few minutes later, a group of 30 or 40 people had gathered. They were snapping photos and telling their significant others “It’s so gorgeous.”

It’s not in my nature to take it easy; whenever I have some down time, my first reaction is to ask myself what I can accomplish. But seeing the sunset made me realize that I can relax every once in awhile without the world collapsing in on itself. I can take time to appreciate the little things and find beauty in the world around me — even when I’m dead tired after a long day.

I might even try relaxing a little more often. It’s actually kinda fun.

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One response to “A Tale of Two Hikes

  1. Okay buddy, you and I have GOT to do this hike together, because clearly Dusty did not show you where the good view points were. There ARE some amazing viewpoints on this hike, if you are willing to walk through some trees to get to them. It could be that the wind and mud were a factor in your lack of view points, but Tillamook Head is definitely worth the hike if you take your time to stop look for holes in the trees.

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