My last two weekends have been chock-full of camping adventures. Funny enough, I recently realized that this same time last year, I was also doing back-to-back camping trips every weekend. Must be a September/October thing for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This year though, was my first time camping on the Oregon Coast. Due to all the wildfires we’ve had in Oregon this year, our annual Environmental Studies grad program camping trip was moved to the coast, since our original plans were a bit too close to the wildfire action. Interestingly, I had never been particularly interested in camping on the coast before. I think I had always expected it to be cold and wet and foggy. Having grown up on the warm sunny beaches of Florida, you can imagine why that doesn’t sound super appealing to me. But in the end, I was pleasantly surprised.
On Friday, I drove out to a part of the Siuslaw National Forest near Florence with a friend so we could snag a couple campsites for the rest of the group that would be coming the next day. She and I each pitched a tent on two neighboring sites (shout-out to the awesome campground hosts who recommended the spot!), and enjoyed a quiet afternoon of setting up camp, hiking the nearby trail, and attempting to keep a fire going (we were marginally successful [you’d think I’d be better at this whole fire starting thing by now, but no.]).
As things quieted down for the night, I could hear the distant, rhythmic roar of the ocean a couple miles away. As much as I love camping, I almost never sleep the first night; I always seem to fall into this weird dreamlike state where I’m half-conscious of everything around me, but too tired to be fully awake. Even so, the sound of the waves lulled me into relaxation and I felt tired, but somewhat rested the next day.
In the morning, my friend and I drove to Heceta Head Lighthouse in the morning. It was foggy and cold, but that didn’t keep us from scrambling around on the rocks and exploring the spectacular coastline and watching the waves smash against the rocks with impossible force.
Eventually we returned to camp, heated up some soup for lunch, and I relaxed in my hammock with a book until the rest of group arrived.
Once they got there and got set up, we all took to the trail once more and this time hiked its entire length until we reached the coast. We were disappointed at first to find that it ended at a sort of stagnant canal. Some folks were enthusiastic to wade across while others were a little more hesitant. Being the crafty Environmental Studies scholars that we are, we all eventually found our way across the obstacle via a crisscrossing of sturdy logs.
From there we hiked further through increasingly sandy terrain until all of a sudden the view opened up and we were in the sand dunes. Never have I seen such a view with my own eyes!
It really was breathtaking, in every sense of the word. There was no one else on the beach for as far as I could see, and for miles it was just rolling dunes, with the rocky coastline in the distance. We sat on the dunes for a long time as the sun sank lower in the sky. I got the distinct feeling that none of us wanted to go back, but the sun was setting fast so we eventually pulled ourselves away and power-hiked back to camp as darkness fell.
The evening was filled with strumming guitars and improvised song lyrics, minestrone soup, garlic bread, and roasted marshmallows. It’s not every day that group camping trips go so well (which is why I typically prefer to camp with just a couple friends or alone), but this one was quite the exception.
In all, I was quite happily surprised by how much I enjoyed camping on the Oregon Coast, and really should have done it sooner! I am sure I will be doing it again as soon as I can.