Thursday, October 09, 2008

Taking a Slow Stroll on the Lagoon Trail

The gray sky and constant rain lasted three days. Finally, the Oregon weather broke to a bright blue, cloudless sky giving me the opportunity to explore Lagoon Trail.

Once known as “The River of No Return Nature Trail,” this trail follows an amputated arm of the Siltcoos River. The connection to the River was cut off years ago with the construction of the Siltcoos Beach Road. The road, just south of Dune City, opened recreational access to the Pacific Ocean and sand dunes.

Lagoon Trail is an easy, rewarding 30-minute walk. The trail loops along the wetlands of the Siltcoos Lagoon providing viewing areas for plants and wildlife.

The thump of my hiking boot on the wooden platform of an observation point echoed a warning to a blue heron standing in the lagoon water. It took flight to the opposite shore out of my sight.

A less shy creature performed for me. He nibbled on the floating vegetation, eyed me, wiggled his whiskers in a snort, and continued floating on the water surface grazing and filling his belly. I mistakenly called this fellow an otter, it is not. Further along the trail, I learned by reading a sign at an interpretive landing that this was a nutria, a South American animal introduced by fur ranchers of the 1900s. The sign suggested that these animals adopted the Siltcoos Lagoon as their home after escaping from a fur ranch in Tillamook County, Oregon during a 1937 flood.

Benches spaced along the trail offered opportunities to simply sit, not to recover from the exertion of energy on the trail, but to simply enjoy the surroundings. Over the tips of cattails, pine trees heavy with the burden of the season’s cones towered against the blue sky. The wind caused some of the younger pines to sway and clack together in a natural beat. Mats of neon green vegetation rolled in a gentle undulation. And, the scent of pines lay heavy in the air.

Lagoon Trail is not a path that makes you want to trudge along at a fast pace because there are miles ahead. It is a trail perfect for a short, slow stroll on a sunny October afternoon.

October 8, 2008

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