The Oregon Coast : Nehalem Bay

I have been to the Oregon Coast a few times now and I’m always drawn to Nehalem Bay State Park near Manzanita.  It is just one of the places I feel that has it all and is one of only a few places in the world where I don’t get antsy to go somewhere else. I admit that I like to stay active and have a hard time relaxing, I can do both here.

The park has a large campground that has sites for tents as well as big RV’s.  It is clean and well organized, without feeling cramped or over-crowded.  The park is set on a narrow four mile long sand spit with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Nehalem Bay on the other.  Its location gives you easy access to a beautiful stretch of sand beach on one side, with the relative calm of the bay on the other.  The small town of Manzanita is just a  mile or so away with a grocery store and several restaurants.

1A7D43AF-AE04-41D8-961E-395B8E49B550

On the ocean side there is a long beautiful stretch of Pacific beach that you can have mostly to yourself, especially if you walk south along the water from the campground.  Unlike Cannon Beach to the north, there are no beautiful offshore rocks to see but the upside is that it keeps the crowds away.  Unfortunately, the Pacific can be heard but not quite seen from the campground, but a short walk over some sand dunes leads directly to the water. The beach is one of the cleanest anywhere that I have seen.  Be sure to take a camera when you head down for a sunset, and if you’re lucky maybe you can see one as good as we did.

The bay side is a completely different vibe altogether.  The water is much calmer and has many outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, crabbing, and boating.  We were able to do three of the four and had a blast.  While kayaking in the bay we found a few areas with winding, river-like passageways that are more reminiscent of the bayou (sans alligators) than coastal Oregon.  There was also some of the straightforward paddling that you would normally find in a flat and calm bay like this one.

71E17E24-52F7-45B3-86D6-89932AE715BA
The narrow channels through the reeds
46DF1AB2-67F7-4D3B-AAD9-B88D4778AEC3
Nehalem Bay Kayaking

If you like crabbing but don’t have a boat, nearby is Kelly’s Brighton Marina where you can rent a boat with baited crab traps for a two hour adventure of setting traps, catching Dungeness crabs, and boating around the calm waters of the bay.  We only caught one crab of legal size but it was the crabbing experience itself that made it worth it.  Earlier in the day, when we went out kayaking, we met a couple from Portland who were going to try crabbing from their kayaks, something that would be extremely challenging but immensely rewarding.  We caught up with them later in the day and they had caught a crab just as big as the one we had caught in two hours of crabbing with three traps and two people to haul them in with.  They were very proud of their catch…and should be!

5C6DA6A7-6F07-48D7-9539-E51C9EE0DC03
The days catch, one legal sized Dungeness crab
38B83724-1178-4C1D-9E36-4FA2D9184A06
The fog made for some challenging navigation to our buoys and to the marina

And last but not least, I love picking blackberries here, anywhere for that matter but especially here.  As with most parts of the Pacific Northwest, they can be found here at Nehalem Bay State Park.  Blackberries straight off the vine taste better than any store bought varieties that I have ever tasted, and that includes organic berries from places like Whole Foods.  The problem with picking blackberries, (if you’ve ever picked them you know what I’m about to say) is that the plant will bite back and often draw blood.  The bush has thorns that grab you and get hooked right into your skin and/or your clothes, but the taste of fresh Oregon blackberries is worth the bloodshed.

So if you are only looking to get wowed by spectacular scenery this isn’t the place, go to Cannon Beach for that. If you want to get close to nature in a relaxing setting, Nehalem Bay State Park is the place for you.  It is definitely the place for me!

88FFB4F2-032E-4700-9C67-5E151427D9D7
The trail from the beach to the campground
Advertisements

Lake Powell Without An Engine

Lake Powell is for those with power! Engine power that is. It is an enormous lake with extensive side canyons throughout, making any journey on the lake one that requires you to have a ski boat, houseboat, or jet ski to have the horsepower necessary to get you from one place to another. On a recent trip there with my wife, our engines on this trip would be our arms, as a kayak, rather than thehouseboat, would be the primary means of getting around the lake.  In a lake the size of Powell, 186 miles in total length and over and 1,960 miles of shoreline, that meant that to get safely off of the main lake and into the side canyons took quite some time and immense amounts of effort. These side canyons are (in my opinion) the prettiest part of the lake and have interesting features such as narrow passages, high walls, calmer water, beaches to take out of and stretch your legs, stunning rock formations and surprises around every corner.

image
Lost Eden Canyon

Out on the main part of the lake, boat traffic has to be monitored closely by anyone in a small craft, especially kayaks that lie low in the water. Not all boaters are used to looking for kayaks so you have to paddle defensively, just like motorcycles have to be defensive out on the roads. As they passed, some boaters slowed down a little bit, one slowed down a lot, and once did not slow down at all, nearly causing us to capsize.  It must not be common to see a kayak on this lake because a few looked utterly shocked to see a kayak out there and a couple even looked impressed. However, I think most boaters seemed annoyed by the additional hazard that the kayaks presented. One boater was visibly irritated by us even being on the boat ramp unloading our kayaks.  Lucky for us though, we paid the same fee to be there that he did and was even told by a ranger where to launch from.

We were here the week after Labor Day, just into the off season.  The weather was still very warm as was the water but most of the people were gone, making being on the lake in a kayak during peak season hard to imagine.  Aside from occasionally playing a bit of dodgeball with houseboats, jet skis, and ski boats, the experience of kayaking in the high desert landscape of Utah on such a large lake was a surreal and memorable experience.  Paddling  in the canyons, especially Lost Eden Canyon, was like boating through a maze and as you go deeper into the canyon arm, the water got flatter and flatter, making the paddling very easy.  If there are two things that can make paddling easier it’s light wind and and small waves. There wasn’t much of either of those happening when you get off of the main lake and into the smaller canyons where the boats are fewer, the ones that are there are going slower, and the canyon walls are so high that the winds can’t get in.

image
Moqui Canyon

 

image
Moon rising, sun setting

Ideally, learning from this experience, having a kayak on this lake would be best if you use a boat with an engine to get you and your kayaks to the side canyons from a marina or boat ramp rather than paddling all the way to them, many miles in some cases. This way, you don’t expend the majority of your energy just getting to the mouth of the canyon arm. Once you arrive at the mouth, you could have many miles of paddling to get to the end (if you choose to go that far) and of course, many back. But if you choose to kayak without the support of a boat, you can still have a great time, and we did, just expect your natural engine to be sore for the next week after you get home!

image
Parting Shot – Sunset near Halls Crossing