Jan 4, 2017

Lincoln City Glass Floats and Hiking Cascade Head.

I am usually not a last minute kind of girl. I make plans so far in advance people have been known to enjoy teasing me about it. But last week on Tuesday my 17 year old and I were sitting smack in the middle of an incredibly lazy day when we realized my parents were going to be gone to California for a few days. Natalie was going to be at her cousins. We should have a plan. It was easy to decide on the beach but which one?

Two of our biggest unfulfilled dreams about the coast have been the glass float drops on Lincoln City beach and whale watching. Wouldn't you know it? This happened to be Whale Watching Week and a glass float drop was happening. Two dreams in one week. How do things work out so perfectly? It was definitely a sign.

From October through May they choose random weekends to hide glass floats on the seven mile stretch of Lincoln City beach. By the end of the "glass float season" they have hidden over 2000 of glass floats. They are all handcrafted and amazing. Tatiana and I have had huge dreams of finding one or two of them. We confirmed that on Dec 31 and January 1 they would indeed be hiding 100 of these glass floats so it was decided, we were going to Lincoln City. I took the first Airbnb we looked at and the deal was sealed. I know I have already had my relaxation and adventure this Christmas break but trust me I really needed the chance to clear my head and take my mind off of some hard decisions I had to recently make.

Early Friday morning we headed out. We dropped Natalie and her cousin off in Lebanon and then headed west to Newport, Oregon. After about 43 miles of driving on Route 20 you finally come to the top of a hill on your way into Newport and you can look out in front of you and catch your first glimpse of the ocean. This view never ceases to fill me with happiness.

Our plan was to just do whatever we fancied. Our first "fancy" was historic downtown Newport. We wandered around looking in shops and galleries. We said hello to the incredibly loud and lazy male sea lions that hang out on the pier during the winter months. We even ate fish and chips. We are on an eternal quest to find the perfect fish and chips.

I knew there was a hike on the coast that I had been wanting to accomplish but I could not for the life of me remember the name of the hike. While we were waiting for our food I checked up on Facebook and there happened to be a comment from my friend Carrie reminding me that the hike was Cascade Head and that I was close to it. I quickly googled the hike, read about it, and all of a sudden Newport was no longer interesting. We jumped in the car and headed North on Highway 101. Who wants to shop when there is an epic hike?

Google maps said we had about an hour drive to the trail head and that we would arrive about 1:49 pm. I was a little concerned about how early the sun sets on a winter day and how much hiking we had to accomplish in the time before it set so I was focused on our goal, It is hard to be focused as you are driving past fabulous views of the ocean and you know it is also whale watching week on the Oregon coast. But we made it with no stopping.

Sometimes finding where the actual trail starts on a hike is tricky and this hike was one of those kinds of hikes.Thankfully, I know how to roll down my window and ask questions so with only one turn around we made it to the parking lot for the Cascade Head hike. The people we asked about where the trail started casually mentioned to us that the trail was very muddy. I am so glad they did.

Thankfully, I always have my yellow rubber boots in the car and Tatiana had thought to wear her red rubber boots. You cannot live in Oregon and not have your trunk full of things that you might need to handle the weather conditions in this darling state. It is safe to assume that water and mud will often be involved in your day. This trail was incredibly muddy most of the way up and we were so grateful for our boots. I would have hated to have to be worrying about where I had to step if I was trying to protect my shoes. I am so glad we could just walk right through the middle of anything.

Out of the woods.
The hike to the top was 3.4 miles. The trail is on the road for a minute. It crosses the road. Then is goes up. And up. And up. Through forest. Some of the trail has steps. Some of the trail is wide but most of it is very narrow and did I mention muddy? I had no idea what to expect at the top. As we came out of the forest into a meadow I was so anxious to see what our view was going to be. I was not disappointed. The ocean, the mountains, a herd of elk, clear sky, the blues, the greens, the beach miles below, the snow on the distant mountains, miles of pine trees, there was a view everywhere I looked. I thought okay, this is it. So fabulous.

But the trail kept heading across the meadow so we just kept following it. We stopped to admire the views and take pictures often. I kept deciding no this is the best view, would walk some more and then decide, no this is the best view. Honestly, you could have stopped anywhere on this mountain and been done with your hike but I could see the trail still going and knew I would always wonder what was at the end.

Can you see her?
The trail started to head straight up. Tatiana easily moved ahead of me. She would stop and look back and holler "Keep coming mom." I swallowed down the thoughts that her words made me feel old. I kept trying to think of how I could capture what we were doing and seeing in pictures and words. How could I describe this? I stopped frequently to catch my breath, survey the view, take a picture and then press on. If you look at the picture to the left there you can see I was several switchbacks behind her.

I smiled at the people I passed who had already made it to the top and were on the way down. I saw the look of empathy in their eyes as their struggle to the top was still fresh in their minds. A few of them reassured me the end was coming. I asked a young couple how much further and was a little confused when they declared they did not know they had come from another trail and had only been hiking a mile so they were not sure. What? I chose the hard way? Of course I did. It turns out there are three different trails and we took the longest and hardest trail but I am glad we did and would never do it any other way. It was an amazing hike with huge rewards. I had to resist the urge to burst into the Carpenter's song On Top Of The World a few times. "Such a feeling's coming over me. There is wonder in most everything I see. Not a cloud in the sky got the sun in my eyes and I won't be surprised if its a dream." Yeah,that song and I go way back.
View to the South 

Going down was much more delightful even though there was a constant chance of slipping in the mud. There is just something about knowing what is coming that makes the hike go faster and seem easier. I longed to watch the sun set behind the Pacific Ocean from the top but I knew that was irresponsible. Even though I had packed my flashlight. We got back to our car at about 3:50 pm.
View to the West.

Round trip the hike is 6.8 miles. It gains 1310 feet of elevation. And is categorized as a moderate hike. I saw all different sorts of people hiking the trail. Old people. Young people. People hauling young kids. Couples in love. Groups stopping to smoke marijuana. Hikers on cell phones chatting away. It was definitely a popular hike despite the mud and that it was December 30th. I was so glad we did it and will definitely do it again.

We headed to our Airbnb which was 10 minutes away and had an amazing view of the coast. We grabbed Taco Bell and watched a ton of episodes of Studio C. The next morning we drove less than a mile to a parking lot by the beach and started our search for the glass fishing floats.

It was disheartening to notice lots of people already searching for the floats. They do not hide the floats all at once they hide them throughout the day. So in my head I divided the 100 floats into 50 floats per day and then figured out the daylight hours and tried to determine how many floats they would hide within an hour. Yeah, who does that? I also spent way too much time trying to notice who might be hiding them. I was shamefully looking for an easy way. But there was no easy way. It was just endless walking and looking along the bluffs, through the driftwood, and above the high tide line for an elusive glass float.

We had a time deadline for when we had to head back inland. I had a dance in Portland to attend and Tatiana had possible New Years Eve plans. We stayed as long as we could and walked at least 4 miles on the beach but never found a float. The day started out clear and sunny but within a few hours the clouds rolled in. It was very hard to be at the beach and not be walking out by the ocean so a few times I deviated and headed out to the shoreline.One of those times a sneaker wave caught me and filled my rubber boots with salt water and sand which made me smile. You could hear me coming from a mile away with all the noise wet socks and wet pants inside rubber boots makes.

As much as I loved living in Kansas and Indiana I cannot imagine living where I do not have the freedom to jump in the car, drive two hours and be at the ocean. It makes me so happy to be able to do that. I marvel at the ease of it every single time I do it.