Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fear no weather

"Feel the ocean as it breathes
Shivering teeth
See the mountains where they meet
Smothering me
As the wind fends off the waves
I count down the days
Heavy stones
Fear no weather"
- "Empire" by Of Monsters and Men

The song quoted above describes my Saturday, but in all honesty, I have a different one stuck in my head. Its lyrics are much simpler:

"There are four ORs in Port Orford, Oregon
Port Orford Oregon
Port Orford Oregon
There are four ORs in Port Orford Oregon..."
Ocean view from Port Orford

And on and on it goes. Julie sang it for a grand total of 5 seconds, but we both agreed, it has the tendency to get stuck in your head. Port Orford, Oregon is about an hour south of Coos Bay, and it's a gorgeous little spot. The small town is populated mostly by retirees, but it has a surprisingly good art scene. The port of Port Orford is also curious, since the small boats are lifted out of the water by crane and set on trailers on the dock. I'm not kidding.

Those ambitious enough and focused enough to bypass the gorgeous ocean views will reach Mount Humbug, just a few minutes outside of town. I was itching to get away from my desk and go on a hike this weekend, so Julie, an OIMB post-doc, and I headed out to explore Humbug. Who even cares that it was raining?

Temperate rainforest
Soaked. Heavy stones fear no weather.
The vegetation on the Oregon coast can only be described as a temperate rainforest, and this was pretty obvious on Mount Humbug. Ferns, broad-leaved plants, and trillium flowers lined the trail. Epiphytes hung from moist trees. Everywhere we looked was green. We pushed through the vegetation, picked our way through rocky streams, climbed over, under, and around fallen tree trunks. There were orange salamanders scurrying across the forest floor - countershaded, so their backs were a medium brown-orange but their ventral sides were bright orange, almost glowing.

By the time we reached the top, we were pretty thorougly soaked. There was a bench at the top facing out toward the ocean, but the trees were tall enough and dense enough to block most of the view. There was actually an abandoned novel on the bench, coverless and soaked through. Part of me wanted to read it and figure out what it was, but I opened it to a random page for the next person to find.

We made our way back down through the rainforest and headed home. It was a great hike - rain and all.

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