Sunny Morning on Neahkahnie Mountain
Who knew winter could be so fantastic on the Oregon coast? After a great night with my wife in Seaside, I wanted a solid hike. I had visited Neahkahnie Mountain from the south with my sisters in the 90s, and I knew the views from the top were great. There is another trailhead at a pullout just over 15 miles south of the Highway 26 and Highway 101 junction. The Oregon Coast Trail goes both ways here. There were only two other vehicles in the lot when I arrived about 9 a.m. The trail was serene but for the highway noise below in the first mile.
The route climbs steadily uphill, and there are great views immediately as the path takes a few switchbacks across a steep meadow of salal and sword fern. Eventually I entered the trees. Athough the day was perfectly sunny, it was hard to tell inside the dark forest.
Sometime when I hike a mountain, I get frustrated in the middle of the ascent, after the early motivation wears off and before the effort starts paying off in stellar view. At times, I’m a bit impatient and unrealistic, rather like Roald Dahl’s Veruca Salt. As in: I want my summit and I want it now! This time, however, the hike felt very balanced. The views at the bottom were followed by nice forest flora variety, a stream crossing, a saddle, and of course the climb into the open at the top.
Coming into the open after a couple miles reminds me of Bald Mountain to the west of Mount Hood. In this instance, the amazing view that is suddenly in your face is the Pacific Ocean. Not too shabby.
I met a fellow hiker on top. We chatted for a while and then he left. Per usual when faced with a million dollar view, I didn’t want to leave the summit. Such glorious weather! Had the wind not been whipping on top, I could have been in shirtsleeves. Eventually, of course, I had to descend. The walk was pleasant, and fast. Halfway down, I started encountering lots of people. They were lucky too.
This is a great hike for impatient folk I was up and back before noon, so I had time to spend the afternoon with my wife back in Seaside. It helped make our trip to the coast a great one.