Trek #36: Neahkahnie Mountain

If mountain summit views are magical, then mountain summit views by the ocean are doubly magical. This idea is what led me to drive the two hours out to the coastal area just south of Cannon Beach this past weekend.

And then I decided to fire my “Day Hiking: Oregon Coast” trailbook, because it tried to kill me. I should preface by saying, I’ve never been very impressed with this book. The author is a woman who doesn’t live on the coast and can’t write a guided hike to save her life. All trail descriptions are either vague or incorrect, and the maps are laughably useless. The book has served me well in giving me ideas for hikes, but in no way should one use it as their sole trail guide. And that brings us to why my book is fired because I’d like to survive any and all trails.

I had also brought with me to the coast my hefty yet trusty”Pacific Northwest Hiking” trailbook. Because this mammoth guide packs in nearly 1,000 hikes in OR and WA, it’s not the most detailed, but it has never steered me wrong. And it wasn’t until I had hiked up, and up, and up, and up the mountain and found myself at a 3-way fork that both books had conflicting information on which way to head to the summit. “Pacific Northwest Hiking” suggested I continue on the path that crossed the forks to an open viewpoint. It didn’t say how far this viewpoint was, but I took the direction and continued on. After a while, I thought it might have put me on the path to a longer 9 mile one-way route the scales the ridge (making an 18 mile hike I hadn’t planned). I looked out ahead and only saw endless ridgeline, so I decided to consult “Day Hiking: Oregon Coast.” She said that at the 3-way fork, to take the left fork up to a telecommunication station, and cross under the power wires out to a “knobby summit.” It didn’t sound very pretty, but I backtracked and did as guided. I took the left fork up and up to a freaky looking power station with warning signs posted everywhere that even getting near the wires without proper suited protection would result in death.

Oh hi death!

And my trailbook actually advocated crossing under these death wires? Believe it or not guys, I did. Maybe it was the elevation getting to my head, maybe it’s my blind trust of trailguide authors, but I actually walked through that jazz. And you know what I found on the other side of it? Nothing. A dead end into trees on a cliff. I was pissed. I had just hiked all the way up a steep mountain to run smack into a power station that doesn’t welcome anyone near it. And I had to gingerly walk back beneath the scary wires and warning signs of doom. “Day Hiking: Oregon Coast”, you are so fired.

The hike wasn’t a complete wash though. After all, I freaking made it to the top of that mountain, even if I didn’t get the views. And on my way back down, I was able to sneak a few in, like these:

After I got home and read online trip reports from others who had hiked Neahkahnie Mountain, it turns out the direction “Pacific Northwest Hiking” pointed me in was right: if I had continued on just a half mile further from where I turned around on the ridge, I would have come to a side trail (which PNW Hiking failed to mention) that led out to a tree-less viewpoint. Ah well. Something to file away for next time. The important thing is, I didn’t die. Sometimes, that’s all the success you can ask for in an unfamiliar hike.

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Treks Down: 36, Treks to Go: 16

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