The Cape Meares area has lots to see. There is the Cape Meares Lighthouse and limitless of hiking trails through old growth forests. The ocean views are pristine with cliffs that are home to nesting seabirds. The lighthouse (bottom of this page) was named for Captain John Meares who is thought to be the first to sail into Tillamook Bay. It is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Built in 1889, this lighthouse is only 38 feet tall. Even though it is small, the light could be seen for 21 miles out to sea because of the steep sea cliff on which it rests and also due to its Fresnel lens which was made in Paris, France.
I did some googling in search of my next adventurous destination. I decided on Cape Meares and surrounding areas. I followed signs to this hiking trail in Cape Meares Wildlife Refuge that lead to the Pacific Ocean. There was to be an awesome secluded beach at the end of the trail. When I got to the trailhead, I couldn’t decide if I should start this solo hike. I knew it would be a bit strenuous for me but I had all day and thought I’d just go slowly and it wouldn’t be too bad. My biggest problem was that I was by myself and there was not a soul around. Usually my explorations are in busy areas. I’ve always listened to that voice within to help me decide what to do and this inner voice was saying “stay put”.
Like I said, the place was deserted. By deserted, I mean no people. No cars in the parking lot. No cars passing on this winding road. Hmm. What do to? I sat in my car for a while trying to decide. As soon as I decided I should leave, up pulled a family of tourists complete with mom, dad, grandma, and kids. They seemed safe enough. I assumed they wouldn’t murder me. They set out ahead of me but the grandma was moving slowly. Slower than I was. I ended up passing them up saying “See you at the beach!”
Guys! This trail was so long. There were so many twists and turns. Soon I started hearing the water. That’s the best part of a coastal or waterfall hike. That sound of water. I was excited to finally be close to the beach. I was already tired but this put a little pep in my step.
Maybe i should sidestep and describe the trails to the ocean. These trails always wind around a lot because otherwise it would be too steep to walk down. It would definitely be too steep to walk up if it wasn’t a winding trail. So what seems like a short distance is multiplied exponentially down the mountain. Imagine it to be like the lines and Disney World. It seems like a short distance but the path is definitely not from point A to point B.
Back to the story. I was beginning to hear the water and I felt I was close. The problem was I could tell from looking through the trees that I was still at a high elevation and the water beach was still very far away. The photos above show you my view of the ocean. I’m sad to say that’s as far as I got. 😞 I knew how much daylight I had left and I would never make it to the water with time to enjoy the beach and still get to my car before the sun started going down.
So sadly I turned around and headed back up the mountainous trail. I passed the little family as they were heading down. They were disappointed to hear I had not made it the whole way to the beach. This return hike was going to take a while because walking up that trail was a steep workout. “No problem” I tell myself. I’ll just walk a bit and rest as needed. (See the selfie above which shows me before the drama that is about to unfold) That’s when I ran into a problem. (Insert Dum, Dum, Dum sound effect here.). As I was walking, I noticed some scat. You know what that is right? Poop. It was animal poop. No big deal. I’m a country girl. I’ve seen scat. Here’s where the problem comes. In the Oregon news there had been sightings of mountain lions. One had even stalked and killed a biker in the forest.
I decided I need to rest right there and decide what kind of animal left this poop on the trail. I ruled out the friendly animals such as rabbits and deer. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bear. Too small. In my mind it could be nothing else but a mountain lion. Right as I was identifying mountain lion poop, I heard a couple of sticks break nearby. I took a few deep breaths and tell myself “ok. Calm down. You have a hiking whistle, pepper spray, and a cell phone. You are fine”. I put all of those things in my hands so I would be fully protected. I notice the cell phone has no service in the darned mountains. Would a whistle even be helpful in a mountain lion attack? Who knows?
You know that our imaginations are powerful things....but so is our intuition. I really felt like there was a mountain lion watching me as I walked up the mountain. I was too scared to look around to see if it was in sight. Seems like I’d read that you should make eye contact with big cats. Or was that bears? I think “You are totally unprepared to fight a mountain lion! This is how your life ends! You are in a wildlife refuge. What did you think was going to happen? You didn’t even reach the ocean on your last hike and now a mountain lion is going to kill you. If the mountain lion doesn’t kill you, you will die of a heart attack from trying to run up a mountain while quite out of shape. You will be on the news. You will be another dead tourist on the news. “. The things that ran through my mind, I tell ya! I kept plucking along. I had no choice, really.
Needless to say, I made it out alive. How else could I be telling this story? I made it to my car and locked the doors really fast. I know. I know. Mountain lions can’t open doors, but i was taking no chances. I was exhausted from all the excitement. Like some people say, “You made memories.” I hate that saying.
Her ya go. I told you lighthouses don’t check my boxes. I saw it and took a picture. That was enough for me. The only thing I like about lighthouses is that they usually have great views of the water. I suppose they make good photographs.
Don’t hate on me for not loving lighthouses, people. You can love them all you want.