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Tahkenitch Dunes Overnight Backpack Trip

I know this is a long description but please read it in its entirety so you can be well informed about the trip and what it requires.

This is an overnight trip.  Please be prepared with the necessary gear- tent, sleeping bag, pad, stove, plenty of food, etc.  You will need to pack in everything you need to the trailhead, so its one of those "bring only what you can carry" things.

The simple fact that this is being scheduled in November may scare some people off, but if you're an avid hiker and always looking for an opportunity to hike, even so close to winter, then this might be the trip for you! I chose this location simply because its on the coast and the chances of snow are low. However, one should keep in mind that the coast can be stormy this time of year so rain is nearly inevitable. That being said, making sure you're prepared for rainy weather is very important. I will not cancel the trip simply because of rain.  There's no reason we can't crowd a few of us into a tent for a game of cards.  If the wind is good (and it usually is on the coast), we could even take advantage of some kite-flying if you want to pack one in.  However, if there is a serious storm rolling in, even though its not directly on the beach and we will be protected to some degree from nearby hills, I will not take a chance with thunder and lightening. In that event, the trip will be canceled.

This trail, listed in Oregon Coast and Coast Range book by William L. Sullivan (Hike #67) is rated as difficult. It is a 6.4 mile loop with 650 feet elevation gain. It includes a hike along sand dunes, a secluded ocean beach and forest, passing a three mile long lake.

Information about the trail from the book: The path that starts here climbs 0.2 mile amidst 20 foot tall rhododendrons that bloom in April and May. At a junction, turn right for another 0.4 miles to the open dunes. Follow the posts across the open dunes toward the ocean. This route leads to a trail through a shore pine forest. Keep left at a junction with the Tahkenitch Creek Trail, skirt the creek's estuary for 0.6 mile until the main trail veers right through grassy dunes to the beach. For the loop, head left on the broad beach mile. After 0.7 mile, you'll pass a large steel I-beam planted in the sand with a sign announcing the start of an area where vehicles are permitted. Expect tire tracks in the sand for the next 0.3 mile. Then look for a trail sign atop the foredune and take a path inland 0.4 mile to a signpost in the open dunes. The loop trail turns left here but first continue straight 200 yards to a viewpoint on a sandy bluff above Threemile Lake. The lake is in fact three miles long, but its wedged between such steep slopes that the best access to the lakeshore's beach is a 200 foot sand slide straight down from the viewpoint. Scientists have unearthed saltwater mussel shells from prehistoric campsites along the lake, a find suggesting this was once a salty estuary connected to the sea. To continue the loop, climb left 200 yards to a campsite in the woods overlooking Threemile Lake. From here, the easy to follow 2.9 mile trail back to your car covers densely forested ridges where chanterelle mushrooms sprout in the fall.

Driving directions: Drive Hwy. 101 south of Florence 13 miles. Between mileposts 203/204 turn west into Tahkenitch Campground, and then go straight into a trailhead parking loop. Parking passes are required but can be bought here.

Carpool: If you are interested in providing or getting a ride, meet at the W. 11th Walmart at 10:00am where we will make ride arrangements. We will leave the parking lot at 10:10am. Please be prepared to contribute $10 to your driver to help cover gas and wear and tear on the vehicle.  Even if you are driving on your own, you are welcome to meet us at Walmart and we can caravan out. I will bring copies of the trail and driving directions to give to all drivers and drivers should exchange numbers so we can keep track of each other. If you don't need a ride and don't want to caravan, you are welcome to meet us at the trailhead.

What to bring: Most of the people who have been hiking a while will probably know what to expect and what to bring. But for the sake of those who may not know what they need to be prepared, I'm going to repeat it here.

At the very minimum, having your 10 essentials is key:

1) Navigation (map and compass)

2) Sun protection (sunglasses, sunblock, hat)

3) Insulation (extra clothing, outerwear) Avoid cotton clothing. When cotton gets wet it gets cold and it does not dry quickly. Waterproof boots. Bring extra socks. Waterproof rain jacket. Dressing in layers is good so that you can add or take off layers as your body temperature changes.  Since it will likely be raining, you need to be prepared with rain/wind gear and make sure your tent is rain and wind-worthy.

4) Illumination (headlamp, flashlight, include extra batteries/ bulbs)

5) First aid kit

6) Fire (waterproof matches and firestarter).

7) Multi tool and repair kits for any gear (mostly applicable to tents/ sleeping pads but could be useful for your pack as well)

8) Nutrition (at least one extra day's worth of food in addition to your lunch that you should bring for our lunch stop during the hike).  Since this is an overnight, you need to be sure you bring enough food for the two days, plus one as well as any appropriate supplies such as a stove, fuel, cooking utensils, pans, dishes, etc.

9) Hydration (always carry adequate extra water).  Someone going will likely have a water filter but please be sure you pack plenty of water on the off chance someone doesn't.

10) Shelter (space blanket or similar item).  In this case, since this is an overnight trip you will need a tent with a good footprint.  It's going to be wet so the more protection you have the better.  A good sleeping pad to keep you insulated from the ground.  And a good sleeping bag.

Not listed in the 10 essentials, and perhaps a bit obvious, is a pack. But let's mention it here anyway. I prefer to see actual backpacks as opposed to shoulder bags, especially on a hike of this nature. Some of the 10 essentials may seem pointless to people for a day hike. But I really encourage people to be prepared for the unexpected- for example, getting separated from the group, being stuck out overnight, etc. So even though you may not end up needing some of the stuff, better safe than sorry.

Other things to consider bringing: You may find trekking poles useful. A camera might also be a good addition to your pack. A nice book to read and perhaps a deck of cards or portable board game would also be appropriate in case we become tent bound.  I am not sure if there is a campfire ring in this campground, but I will try to find that out and we can decide what to do about wood at that point.

If you have any questions about what you should bring, you are welcome to message me and I can see if I can help you sort it out.

The goal of these trips for me is of course the hike, but also sight seeing and enjoying the company and conversation of other hikers. So that being said, it is not a goal of mine to rush through these hikes. There will be points where we will stop and take pictures, stop and have a snack/ lunch (be sure to pack one), and perhaps stop and rest. I will be limiting the number of participants to 12 so that it is easier to keep track of all members of the party and to minimize impact to the environment that larger groups often bring. In addition, I want people who may feel physically up to attempting a hike of this nature to feel encouraged to try and do not want them to feel as though they will be holding anyone back. So, if you are a power hiker who just wants to rush through, this won't be the trip for you. Likewise, if you are not in decent physical condition, the level of difficulty of this trip might not be a good fit for you either. But I'll let you be the judge of that. I hope that you'll join us on this adventure!

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  • Cory A.

    Would be a great trip! Can't make this one. Would take Tayla but not a good idea.

    November 30, 2012

  • Emese F.

    Thanks for checking to see if everyone is still interested in going on the trip. I just talked with a friend who mentioned that the weather is supposed to be pretty bad (lots of rain and wind) at the coast this weekend. Because of this, I'm going to have to cancel (yes, you said rain or shine, but I was hoping for shine). I think it sounds like a great trip and perhaps it will be an option sometime later. Thanks for all the organizating and looking forward to meeting you at a later date.

    November 28, 2012

  • Andrea Brown (.

    Just wanted to check in with folks about this upcoming weekend. Everyone still planning on going? Eddy? Ananda? Emese? Also, it is quite likely going to rain and we plan to go rain or shine. Is everyone prepared to hike and spend the night in the rain (and likely wind given that its the coast)?

    November 26, 2012

    • Eddy O

      things at work have gotten crazy as my boss is out with a family medical emergency - i don't think i'll see trail until after the new year. sorry, can't make it. hope everyone has a good time -- i'll be checking back for pictures.

      November 27, 2012

    • Ananda

      At this point I'm going to say, just assume I won't make it. I have a lot going on & I'm not feeling like I can commit to getting my stuff together for Sat. morning - also maybe feeling a little wimpy about the potential constant downpour. Definitely take lots pictures - AND share your tips on dealing with the cold rain! It looks like a really nice hike!

      November 28, 2012

  • Eddy O

    I am trying to arrange transportation - one vehicle family. Stay tuned...

    November 5, 2012

    • Ananda

      I think that would probably work for me too.

      November 13, 2012

    • Andrea Brown (.

      Okay, I have rescheduled it to the first weekend in December. Hope you both can make it!

      November 13, 2012

  • Ananda

    I have something else going on this weekend & won't make it after all. I would have loved to make this one. Have fun!

    November 12, 2012

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