Let me just say this again, the Oregon Dunes are awesome.
Leaving Umpqua Lighthouse I returned to the beach near the jetty. I passed a school bus picking up kids and a single guy on the beach walking his dog. Other than that the day was mine alone. No one was out.
It was a clear sunny day, but after several hours I started to worry that I might not find the place where I was supposed to head inland. The dunes to the left were high and nothing was visible beyond them. I knew that I was supposed to leave the beach at Horsfall Beach, but would there be a sign? Then again why was I in a hurry. After this it was just another long road walk through North Bend and Coos Bay. Then, just as I started to think that I had definitely gone too far and was going to end up stuck out on the long jetty, I saw a worn wooden handrail barely poking above the grass at the top of the dune. It was a lookout platform and just below was the parking area for Horsfall Beach.
I walked down and filled my water bottle for the long walk out. Just as I was finishing a guy in an old jeep was leaving the parking lot after coming back from driving on the beach. Almost as a joke I put out my thumb, and from well over a hundred feet away he saw me and did a u-turn.
“You need a lift?”
“Sure, if you’re heading towards Coos Bay that’d be great,” I said.
“Don’t have a seat for you to sit in but if you don’t mind pushing the dog out of the way you can ride with us to North Bend.”
Sure enough there was no passenger seat, and certainly no seat belts. That’d be okay if there were doors but he seemed to be missing those as well. Still, a ride was a ride.
In my shorts and sweat soaked shirt the wind and cool air seemed like an arctic blast as we sped down the beach access road and across the bridge into North Bend. Then we were in Coos Bay in front of the visitors center before I could suggest a place to be dropped off.
“No problem,” he said, “I can get back home in a couple of minutes. Have a good hike.”
And just like that he was off, his dog no doubt glad to have his space back again.
I could have walked out of town. It was early enough. But for some reason I thought I’d smash my budget and get another hotel room. In the rain I backtracked to the Motel 6. Or was it the Super 8? It was whichever was cheaper, and what’s up with the numbers in their name? Is there something I should know?
Coos Bay to Bullards Beach was easy. Because I was feeling lazy I caught the local bus south to kill some of the road walking. Forget the side trail out to Sunset Bay State Park or even Cape Arago. I felt like moving.
The bus however does not take you down Seven Devil’s Road, it follows the 101 right into Bandon. So I informed the bus driver that I needed to be let off north of Bandon at Bullards Beach State Park. Set up my tarp in the hiker biker camp and hit the beach to hike north as much as possible before returning to the hiker biker camp for the night.
A storm was moving in and touring cyclist had just arrived. Apparently the park ranger had asked if he had more than a tarp, motioning towards mine.
“He must have thought you were an idiot to spend the night out here in a rain storm with only a tiny tarp,” the cyclist told me.
Maybe I am. But I didn’t get wet all night while the cyclist had his tent flooded.