Cummins Creek and Cooks Ridge - February 19, 2011
Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill
On Saturday, 12 Friends of the Umpqua, took advantage of a brief lull in the stormy weather to hike in the Cape Perpetua area on the coast. It was a close thing, weather wise as the forecast alternated between snow, rain, and sun; finally settling on mostly sunny. As it turned out, it was all sunny all day.
The Cummins Creek Trail is an old roadbed that skirts the north side of Cummins Creek and it's namesake wilderness area. Although the creek was in close proximity, it remained unseen due to the thick forest surrounding the trail. The morning light filtered nicely through the trees and the roadbed was green with moss except for the single track where hikers tread. Ferns abound and the slopes had small trickles running down the occasional mossy cliff. Just an absolutely delightful hike for a couple of miles or so. Oddly enough so close to the coast, there were small patches of snow amongst the ferns and moss.
At the second mile, the "Big Climb" commenced as the the path headed up to the ridge separating Gwynn and Cummins Creek, it was a steep 400 ft push for a half mile or so. But that was a minor quibble as it was a beautiful climb through a grove of leafless alders with photogenic white trunks. The snow became a little more consistent here as the trail contoured past a rocky slope under a deep blue sky. The narrow ridge has a trailside meadow which is where we ate lunch at in the snow and wet elk poop. It was so nice to bask in the warm sun.
We said goodbye to 4 of our comrades who returned by way of the ridge for a moderate 6 mile hike, the rest of us continued the climb up and over to Cook's Ridge which separates Gwynn Creek from Cape Creek. We were walking in an uncharacteristic winter wonderland as there was about a foot of snow through the high point of the hike. The trees pelted us with snowballs as we walked under them. And blessedly, at the intersection with the Cook's Ridge Trail, we were done with our 1400 feet of climbing.
As we descended, the snow thinned out and eventually disappeared altogether. This portion of the trail is a sublime trek through one of the lushest forests I've walked in. The trail straddles the spine of Cook's Ridge but you'd never know it as the dense forest blocks out all views of the deep creek canyons on either side. Ferns, salal, moss drape over the trail and the afternoon sunlight slanting in through the trees slowed the camera-addicted crowd which consisted of just me. After 4 miles this wonderful walk, we arrived at the paved parking lot at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center.
From there, we grabbed the Oregon Coast Trail and made one more climb on tired legs to get up and over Captain Cook's Point. The trail crossed a small trickle which is responsible for carving out the deep and narrow Captain Cook's Chasm. The chasm is totally disproportionate to the trickle's meager flow. The coast trail paralleled Highway 101 and we had intermittent views of Cape Perpetua and Gwynn Knool while waves erupted from the various spouting horns and blowholes along the rocky shore.
After the hike, we drove up to the top of Cape Perpetua which has an airplanesque view of the coast and we were able to trace most of our route along the ridges. All in all, a great hike.
Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club