Cummins Creek and Cook's Ridge - February 23, 2008
Coordinator name, narration by name and pictures by name

Spring is coming!

The weather has been so miserable over the last few months it's been hard to hike, or hard to enjoy hiking when hiking was done. However, we've been getting hints now and then that winter is on the way out and "real" hiking can start soon.

Case in point was yesterday. Although the weather forecast that I read called for overcast and showers, we had blue skies and sun once the fog burned off. We had brisk wind gusts so it really wasn't particularly warm but we worshipped and adored the O Wonderful Sun anyway. 

10 Friends, including 4 new members, started this hike alongside Cummins Creek near Cape Perpetua. The Cummins Creek Trail is a misnomer because apart from one brief view at the start, the trail heads up the ridge, well away and above the creek which remained unseen and unheard from the rest of the day. The trail is a converted logging road which means it's not at all overgrown and the grade is relatively level for the first several miles. Green is the color of the day as we wandered through the lush coastal forest with trees draped by bright green moss while emerald ferns graced the understory.

After a couple of miles the ridge between Cummins and Gwynn Creek came into view above us. Because I had hiked this trail before I was well aware of the climb looming ahead to attain the ridgecrest. In the interests of club morale, I decided not to share that information. 

The trail left the old road bed and became a bonafide trail that climbed straight up with no switchbacks, climbing up 500 - 600 feet in about half a mile. Gary referred to this stretch of trail as "The Big Climb" and that pretty much summed it up. However, at the climb lay a meadow with a marvelous view of the Cummins Creek drainage and we lollygagged and enjoyed the sun while we ate lunch.

After lunch, Jane, Beverly, and myself bid adieu to the rest of the club as they headed down the Cummins Creek Loop while we continued on to the Cook's Ridge Trail. We took a short side trip to the ridgecrest summit overlooking Cummins Creek. More climbing then ensued which mercifully ended when we came across our unmarked trail to the left heading down to the Cape Perpetua's vistor center. 

Oops. The trail was well defined for about a tenth of a mile but quickly degenerated down to game trails disappearing in the meadows. So back we go up to the trail on the ridge and unfortunately, yet more climbing ensued. But success! We hit a signed and well-defined trail and now it was a steady downhill (for the most part) descent down to the vistor center.

There were no views here, just miles and miles of the most beautiful green forest. The sun started to sink and the afternoon sun filtering down into the woods meant lots of stops to take pictures; Jane and Beverly were so patient. We saw a couple of women just off trail, sitting crosslegged in the lotus position, eyes closed, and humming in deep meditation. Not wanting to spoil their fun we tiptoed past but this incident did remind me of our proximity to Eugene.

There was a large swath of downfall, apparently caused by the December windstorms but thankfully the USFS had cleared the trail, I wouldn't have wanted to try to scramble past it. We arrived at the visitors center whereby both Jane and Beverly made it be known that they were not interested in hiking up to the summit of Cape Perpetua. While I would have, I was glad deep down inside that they did not want to go. 

So from the visitor center it was a short walk on the Oregon Coast Trail with wonderful views of the coastline below, south to Heceta Head, and of the sinking afternoon sun. With our little side trips to the Cummins Creek viewpoint, the lunchtime meadow, and the game trail I came up with 9.9 miles. Another great hiking adventure.

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