Winter on the Southern Oregon Coast is a time of rain, wind, and frequent displays of nature's fury. Almost every day's forecast contains a warning of dangerous beach conditions, hazardous seas, and small craft warnings. This is also the time for King Tides, which occur because the northern hemisphere is at it's closest to the moon. The constant struggle between the earth and moon's gravity always creates tides, but we've had high tides over 9' above mean sea level, tides that obliterated beaches, stacked huge logs against bluffs and onto parking lots, and rearranged beaches and tidal rivers. At the Face Rock overlook, the face of the princess looking skyward seemed to be sinking. Views that normally included beaches were now water covered, and the Coquille River Jetty was battered with waves.
|Where's the Beach?|
|Coquille River North Jetty|
|Shell Island on Simpson Reef at Low Tide|
corridor. East of highway 101 the coastal range is not much more than rugged forest owned by lumber companies and the Forest Service. There are roads along the rivers that run into the Pacific, but not many, and driving them gives you an idea of what the area looked like in the late 19th and early 20th century.
We drove up the Smith River into a green valley that was once populated by dairy farms. It's a perfect place to raise cattle - year around green grass and mild temperatures. Farmers built dikes to hold back the river and built docks for the steam ships to stop and pick up their milk. There were scheduled trip up and down the river ferrying people, mail, and visible on the decks, milk cans. Today, the dairy farms are gone and in place are beef cattle roaming the meadows. But the remnants of the farming days are there in abandoned barns and pilings along the river.
In these sheltered valleys Elk are almost as common as cattle, and we saw quite a few on this trip:
On another day we took a trip to Loon Lake, a popular lake tucked back in the mountains about nine miles from the Umpqua River.
|Ash Valley School|
We'll be leaving the coast soon and exploring new areas, so check back!