And speaking of fuel...you would never guess that there is a crisis on gas pricing after seeing all the rigs in this park. Every space in Winchester Bay is occupied. Row after row of parking sites feature high end diesel pushers or behemoth fifth wheels being pulled by monster trucks...a smorgasbord of license plates represent every state in the Union...and many of these coaches are brand new. Just another example that this lifestyle definitely draws a multitude of individuals that live life in the present, not with a glass half empty..."carpe diem". We did meet a few Californians that had no problem driving up north...escaping from the heat and the smoke from the hundreds of fires that have hit California so early this year.
The Siltcoos Lake Loop Trail is a moderate level 4.5 mile loop down to the lake shore and back. The trail begins by following an old logging road for about a mile until the trail divides to form a loop. The northern route is narrow with rolling hills. After mile or so, a short spur leads to the lake and 5 primitive campsites equipped with tables, campfire rings, and a primitive toilet. You return to the main trail and turn south on the brushier southern route for a return trip back to where the trail divided. Trees dating back to the 1930's provide a dense canopy overhead, and you can explore the monster cedar snags and stumps and valley floor marshes. We stayed to the trail to ensure we did not lose our way out...the forest was pretty dense...thick enough to block most of the sunlight. You can still see on some stumps, evidence of the 1930s' logging practice of cutting springboard notches to hold planks for tree fallers.
A shorter hike just south of us is around the southern tip of Eel lake. The trail was well marked, did not seem to be used much since it was not well maintained, but beautiful none the less. We did encounter two beautiful snakes on the trail. One of them, a beautiful small Common Garter Snake, had just been attacked by another creature...left barely alive in the middle of the trail with a puncture wound in it's head....we moved it to a more shady and protective site to hopefully recover. We then spooked a large Northwestern Garter Snake on our return trip...it moved swiftly across the trail and into the thick fern cover...invisible again. Seems like a perfect habitat for these reptiles, cool weather, moist ground and a huge supply of their favorite foods...Banana Slugs.
We now go from oceanfront to riverfront and a short 3 hour drive west to the middle fork of the Willamette River located in the Willamette National Forest. After a few hikes, a few beers and many outdoor grills there should be a few more highlights for our next entry...