Sutton Creek - December 21, 2013
Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill

What if a hike was held and no one came? It was a sparse turnout with just 4 of us and I blame the rainy weather, the nearness of the Christmas holiday, and the Richard Hike factor. However, Edwin, John, Lindsay, and myself enjoyed a superlative hike in the Sutton Creek area north of Florence. In fact, it was one of the best hikes I've done this year.

We left the Alder Dunes Trail under threatening skies, taking a short use trail to Alder Dunes, heavily overgrown with beachgrass. The faint path alternated between grassy dune and thick forest and gorse poked our legs as we waded through the pernicious shrub. The path petered out altogether but no worries, we just beelined for the far corner of the dunes where, to our dismay, the trail disappeared under rust-red swamp water.

We walked across a debris dam which did not keep our feet dry but did help somewhat. The next 3/4 miles of trail were badly overgrown and under several feet of water. Needless to say, feet got wet. However, no complaining allowed as we did get on dry sand alongside the copper waters of Sutton Creek. We followed the creek for a bit before heading up and over the very tall foredunes to the beach.

Once on the beach, a steady drizzled dampened clothing but not spirits as we followed the shore several miles to the mouth of Sutton Creek. The mouth was a wild place with lagoons, ponds, and tidal flats as the creek snaked back and forth before colliding with the ocean. We ate lunch atop a dune remnant, isolated from the rest of the dunes by the periodic rampages of Sutton Creek.

No sooner had we sat down for lunch, the rain started and we had a very short lunch. On the way back, we decided for variety's sake to follow Sutton Creek back instead of returning by the beach. There was no trail and we walked through grassy marshes and riverbanks, at one point beating our way through a leafless willow thicket.

The creek snaked it's way through some sand dunes and we contoured around several before the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow formed. Simply put, scenes like this are why we hike. Yes, we got to splash back through the marshes on our way back but it didn't matter, this was a great hike and we were all supremely satisfied with the day's activities.


for more pictures see my flickr album

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