Crook Point to Natural Bridges, July 25th 2008.

The wind died down by morning, although the sky was socked in with an overcast and a low ceiling. Brian Schulz and I launched early and went exploring. First we paddled into the caves in Saddle rock, which was riddled with a maze of arches. With no wind it was easy for us to paddle north a short distance into the rock garden north of Crook Point. The water was choppy there but not as rough as the day before with wind waves fetched up all day.

When we turned back we met Dave Harry just entering the caves through Saddle Rock. When Dave had seen all the caves and arches there we turned south. Just offshore from Cook Point was an incredible garden of a dozen large rocks. The last one in this chain had the largest arch we had seen on the trip, called the Mack Arch. From here we turned back towards shore

We arrived near shore at the beginning of an area named Natural Bridges. From the water it was a natural name since there were arches everywhere. There were apparently trails to some of the points and access to one of the sandy beaches from the road. But fron the land it just didn’t seem possible that you could see a fraction of all the arches we found. We traveled down the coast going through every arch and poking into a few caves. We found one cave that we could enter from a small cove, but it emptied onto the beach on the other side of the point. Just because, we landed there and dragged our kayaks over the sand spit to launch on the other beach. Later in the day I came back here at a higher tide and was able to paddle all the way through and out the other side.

As we worked our way south through this area the first time we kept tabs on which beach looked the best for camping. When we came to the next long sandy beach we turned back to the “best arch beach”. This beach had three arches leading to it plus a wider channel to escape out if the water became rough. We only saw one group of people follow a trail to the top of the cliff north of us all day. I tried to climb up the back of our beach to the cliff top and was turned back by the thick brambles.

We unloaded our kayaks and started setting up camp. But we had arrived here close to noon, so after lunch we launched again to explore Natural Bridges in lighter empty boats. We spent hours going back and forth through the area and through all the arches again. As the tide came up some of the ceilings became lower but some of the shallow floors became deeper and passable. I took pictures of everything several times with the hope that at least one picture of each arch would come out without water drops on the lens.

All week Brian had been directing me to paddle in front of rocks while he took my picture. When I complained about this he told me he was trying “to get your picture on the cover of Sea Kayaker magazine”. I stared humming “On the cover of the Rolling Stone” (Gonna buy five copies for my mother!). But late in the afternoon a mother river otter swam by with two babies. Brian was still out photographing the lowering sun and was in position to take pictures of these otters. They even climbed up on a rock next to him at one point. Dave agreed with me when I suggested that my chance of getting on the cover were dashed. Nobody could beat baby otters for cuteness so they were much more likely to get onto the cover.

When we landed to set up camp, Brian found a nylon bag half buried in the sand half under a log. Inside was a digital camera. Since I had told him about the camera memory card I found at Cape Arago, he turned the camera over to me. It was almost a complete loss; the batteries had shorted out in the salt water and corroded the insides. It was not a waterproof camera but the nylon bag had kept it afloat to come to land here. I was able to pry the memory card out, and like the last one it looked in good condition.

When I took the memory card home I soaked it in fresh water for a day then let it dry out. Inserted in a reader it worked fine and had 16 pictures on it. Half of them were of two girls horseback riding horses. One girl had a jacket with the name and logo of a riding stable, so I sent the stable a copy of one of the pictures. “Do you know these girls?” With instructions on how to contact me. The other half of the pictures were of arched rocks and sunsets, it was found near Natural Bridges Oregon after all. The last picture was taken on March 29th, four months before I found it! These memory cards turn out to be pretty tough, or at least inert in salt water.

Within days I received a phone call from the mother of a girl who was in the pictures. The camera had fallen off a cliff at “Secret Beach” near Natural Bridges and they had lamented the loss of the pictures more than the camera. I was able to mail the memory card back to them! A friend of mine who heard this story told me that she had lost all her photographs off her hard drive recently. She wished instead that she had lost them on the coast of Oregon because then Mike Higgins would have found them and returned them to her!

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact