Thursday, July 9, 2009

"It's the Journey, Not the Destination."

I believe those words apply to my hike to the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Viewpoint in Ecola State Park located just north of Cannon Beach, Oregon.

We had read about the Oregon Coast Lighthouses and began our quest to see as many as possible with a visit to Ecola. The lighthouse (right) was visible from Ecola Point, and this was enough to convince me to find a closer view. Conveniently, a closer view was to be found along a trail between the park and Seaside, OR.

Before starting to hike the trail, we saw this tree. Because of the severe winter weather, Tillamook Indians believed that one of the most powerful of their mythic beings was "South Wind," who traveled up the coast toppling trees as he went.

It was this exposure to storm waves that led to the lighthouse being nicknamed "Terrible Tilly."

It was a short two-mile drive along a narrow, winding paved road to Indian Point and the beginning of the Clatsop Loop Trail. The $3 daily access fee from the many visitors to this beautiful park has produced well-maintained roads, trails, and facilities.

The first half of the Clatsop Loop Trail was a service road, so the trail was very easy to follow--not easy to climb. The service road was 1.25 miles from the trail head to the lighthouse viewpoint, but there was an 800-foot increase in elevation in that distance.

The trail began with a welcoming babble coming from a small stream named Indian Creek.

The densely-forested trail itself began with a show of sunlight in spaces that seemed to beckon the lone hiker with reassurance of the walk ahead.

During my frequent stops to take photographs, I was noticing that I was taking longer and longer to compose each scene. (At least that's how I explained why I was taking longer to catch my breath.)

Some parts of the forest seemed to call out for a closer inspection. I think this is a Sitka spruce.

Parts of this trail follow routes established by the Clatsop and Tillamook tribes. A network of trails connected tribal villages along the north coast.

This group of ferns, from among thousands that covered the forest floor, presented a grand display. And also provided an opportunity to wipe away the perspiration and return my gasping-for-air rate to a normal rate of breathing.

In January of 1806, Captain William Clark led a contingent, including Sacajawea, of the Corps of Discovery, searching for a beached whale they had learned about from the Indians.

The party found the Indians and whale after descending to a "butifull sand shore" and crossing a stream, which Clark later named Ecola Creek, using the Chinook Indian word for whale ("ekoli").

As I stopped to compose a photo, I read that the Clatsop Loop Trail is a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Oregon Coast Trail. Learning that Lewis and Clark may have traveled a part of this very trail, I felt inspired--and revived.

Near the end of the trail was the hikers-only camp. A group of four hikers were just breaking camp as I strolled into their area along the trail.

Just beyond the hiker's camp, I saw these children playing on the stump of a downed tree. It was somewhat disturbing, because they had passed me early along the trail and had all this energy to climb on this huge trunk.

The trail soon narrowed for the last couple hundred yards to the viewpoint.

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was commmissioned in 1881 and was replaced in 1957. During its years of operation, teams of five keepers attended to the lighthouse, four on duty and a fifth ashore, on leave.

Even though housed 133' above sea level, the protective glass around the lanterns of the lighthouse has been shattered by giant waves and debris from several storms.

Its history includes being used as a columbarium, a storage place for the ashes of the deceased. It is the only privately owned Oregon coast lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places.

The lighthouse is 1.2 miles offshore and, to the eye, is closer than when viewed from Ecola Point, but with a less powerful telephoto lens, it seems farther away. But the hike to the destination was rewarded with many beautiful scenes from the forest.

The 1.25 mile-return hike was all downhill--I felt much younger on the return hike.

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