Raz Picks: Sundown at Cape Lookout

Beach grass at Cape Lookout State Park beach on the Oregon Coast. Photo by John RezellSunset at Cape Lookout State Park beach on the Oregon Coast. Photo by John RezellFerns grow high in a tree along the South Trail to the beach at Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon Coast. Photo by John RezellThe view at the beach on South Trail at Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon Coast. Photo by John Rezell

By John Rezell, Editor, OutdoorsNW

The marine layer drifted in and smothered the near full moon, extinguishing what little light that slipped through the trees slightly illuminating the trail, leaving my black lab Ridgely and me to hike the final stretch in complete darkness.

It figures, I chuckled to myself. That marine layer already ruined the sunset, why not mock me some more? Having spent most of my life as a sportswriter, I should have been keeping score — this being two strikes and all. But no.

I grabbed my cellphone and swiped it to bring up the flashlight app. Nothing. Strike three.

I guess when I did a little cellphone maintenance the other day I zapped that app. Luckily I had reception, barely, so a few minutes later I had a new app and enough light to finish the hike. I’ll make sure my backup flashlight never leaves my backpack again.

When we cleared the forest and returned to the parking lot of the Cape Lookout Trailhead the moon beamed brightly again, lifting my spirits. Just another day of adventure. I love it.

We came to the Oregon Coast with a purpose. With a 360-degree camera in hand, it was time to learn how this baby works. Suffice to say, there is a learning curve. But lo and behold, we will share our first pics soon.

The sun broke through the clouds enough that I figured we could make it to a nice spot on the coast to grab a sunset shot. My initial goal was Oceanside, Oregon, but along the way Cape Lookout State Park grabbed my attention — not to mention the quickly sinking sun.

I wasn’t familiar with the options here. I just know that anytime I roll past on the weekends, the parking lot is overflowing with cars.

But on a spring Friday there was just one vehicle in the lot. And for once the trailhead signage offered everything you needed to know. Bravo Oregon State Parks!

There are three trails, the North Trail, South Trail and Cape Trail. North and Cape lead to overlooks, about two miles each. South leads to the beach, 1.8 miles down. Way down.

The empty parking lot let me know I’d get a good secluded beach shot. So we went for it.

The clock showed it was after 5 and just a few days before Daylight Savings kicked in, so time was of the essence. We had three miles under our belt and it was early in the hiking season so I didn’t have mid-summer fitness. Packing a healthy 15-20 pounds in my backpack didn’t help either. But we went for it.

We double-timed it all the way down the trail and made it to the beach in plenty of time. There I saw the driver of the other vehicle. I knew he had to be down there from the fresh footprints in the muddy trail only heading in that direction. We moved farther down the beach and were alone.

A pinch of blue sky offered hopes for a decent sunset, but by the time the sun dipped below the horizon, the marine layer swallowed everything up to cast just a dreary gray across the landscape. It’s not the kind shot that will make a postcard, but that doesn’t do it justice.

The 360 video and photo are not spectacular, but cool nonetheless. I attempted to get a great shot of the tide rolling in with the camera perched atop a plastic container in about an inch of water, but a creeper wave caught me off guard and toppled it into the sea water.

For some reason, the video didn’t come out, which saved me from some embarrassing audio. I did learn, however, the camera is waterproof!

With Ridgely and I alone (the other dude headed up while he still had light) we listened to the waves crashing on the rocky cape, felt the Pacific mist on our cheeks and savored the solitude of sunlight disappearing for another day.