Natural Bridges to Brookings, July 26th 2008.

Because we planned short days we allowed ourselves to sleep in late. The morning conditions were beautiful, clear sky with no wind and the sun over the top of our cliff. The light was just hitting the tops of the trees and the peaks of the offshore rocks when I rose. I launched before anyone else and ran back and forth to re-photograph all the arches in morning light. When the other two joined me on the water we headed south.

The coastline was interesting with rocks to paddle around even in the sandy beach areas. Then we came to an unnamed point north of Whalehead Beach. The topo maps showed a deep slot that I wanted to paddle into. Before I could check it out, Brian Schulz discovered it on his own and charged in saying: “We have to go in there!” The channel turned a little to the right and I heard Brian shouting from around the corner. The only thing I could image creating that excitement was a cave leading out the other side of the point. I signaled Dave Harry, who had hung back, to come on in. Because Brian often stops to take photographs, I was the first to enter the cave he had found. As I entered it I saw another light off to the left. I whooped for joy to see a second, longer cave completely through the point. Brian called out to warn me to wait a minute to watch the water before charging in. I did but the ceiling was high and I felt safe. I proceeded through while Brian and Dave followed. We went through several other caves and arches in this point, making Brian say “This is the funnest place on earth!”

Soon we rounded the corner to Whaleshead Beach. This is a public beach access that would be a good place for locals like Dave and Brian to do day trips in this area. After Whaleshead there were some stretches of sandy beach. But everywhere there were small offshore rocks to go around and between. I assume the water is shallow here and in rough conditions you would have to stay far offshore. Ordinarily this would have been an interesting paddle in its own right but we had just come from the Funnest Place on Earth and had a case of “back to the barn fever”. So we dug in and paddled hard to get around Chetco Point, into the Chetco River and Brookings Harbor. We landed at a dock just inside and hauled our kayaks up the ramp. For Brian the trip was over: he was in a hurry to get home. Dave decided to hang out with me until the next day and complete the dash to the California border.

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