Cape Lookout to Cascade Head, August 10th 2007.

We woke up to clear skies, calm seas and calm air. On this day we had a lot of water to cover so we got up early and planned to launch by 7:00 AM. With a low tide in the morning, a long walk to haul all the gear and a difficult time getting the first few feet off the beach, we didnít get out to sea until 7:45. Who planned this trip so poorly that we have low tides every morning and have to carry our gear so far?

Then something nice happened: we had a strong current all day long that pulled us at two miles an hour even when we were not paddling! This made it pleasant to eat up miles as we paddled past long boring dumping sandy beaches. We passed by another Haystack Rock near Cape Kiwanda. This Haystack Rock has an arch through it that you can see from shore. But up close it was high and dry and no fun for a rock gardener. Cape Kiwanda is a big sand dune held in place with a few rocks. There is a popular surfing beach next to it and a very developed area full of beachside restaurants. We just paddled on by.

We made it to Cascade Head before noon, thanks to our helpful current, and found lots of caves to go through on the north side that I had not seen the last time I was here. One cave had light visible at some angles so we went in half way through a point. However, the cave narrowed to about 26 inches wide. Our boats are only 24 inches but you need some room to move your paddle, the walls all sloped over at a steep angle, the sides were covered with sharp barnacles, and waves broke through from time to time. We backed out and took the long way around that point. We paddled into a small cove with calm water and looked for a place to have lunch. I spied a beach through a narrow slot of an arch and went in. The beach was covered with dozens of harbor seals that panicked and hit the water before I could back out. Since I had already violated the Marine Mammal Protection act I figured we might as well land here for lunch. Dick Ryon did not want to follow me onto the rocky beach so I launched and we ate in our boats in the middle of the next cove. The beaches of this cove were covered with Stellarís sea lions.

Next was the section of Cascade Head that I had seen on a paddle with Dave Harry. I lead Dick through the best arches and biggest caves. We met two kids in inflatable kayaks and told them about the Big Cave. They started around the corner to go see it. The forecast had been for bad wind today but we had only just seen it start up. After we went through one last arch we started past the mouth of the Salmon River to get to a beach in a little cove recommended by Brian Schultz. The wind had finally come up while we were rock gardening and it was fierce. We saw the two kids in inflatables behind us take the corner too wide and get blown farther out the more they tied to go north. The wind was blowing northwest so the worst that could happen to them was getting blown to the south end of the beach in front of the Salmon River. I considered going back and checking on them but we had our own work cut out for us paddling across the wind to get to our cove.

We saw big waves breaking across the entrance to our cove but didnít want to go looking for another landing spot in this wind. I had described this cove to one of the Boy Scout fathers the day before. He knew of it and said: ďThat cove is difficult to get out of at low tideĒ. Watching the waves and seeing how narrow the opening was I could see why. Two arms of volcanic rock curved down to the water to create the opening. Perhaps they continued under the water, which would account for the large waves and would trap us in there in the morning. I figured I could surf over the shallow spot and then drift to shore. I managed to get through the entrance between large waves and thought all my worries were over. But the big waves did not stop inside the entrance and the next one buried me in breaking white water! I barely managed to side-surf and stay upright as I roared up onto the sand! My rudder, which was raised up onto the deck but not strapped down, extended itself and got wrapped around sideways almost to the breaking point. Dick ducked inside the cove, hugged the north edge and landed without a wild ride like mine. But the spot on the beach with the least amount of wind was on the other side of the cove so he had to haul his gear all the way around.

Once inside it was a beautiful place. The two arms that created the entrance continued curving around behind us. It looks like an old volcanic crater that circles a big arc of white sand beach. There are a few fire rings up on the beach but all human footprints had been washed or blown away before we started leaving ours. There was a trail of hoof prints from and elk that came down the cliff, crossed to the water and returned some time recently. During the night a coyote crossed the beach but left our gear alone.

All text and images Copyright © 2007 by Mike Higgins / contact