Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ecola State Park & Neahkahnie Mountain

This Saturday Emily and I headed to the coast with Leo for a hike and to do some filming and flying practice with the Mavic Pro.  The rain held off and I got some great footage over Canon Beach from Ecola State Park as well as some wonderful orbiting shots from the top of Neahkahnie Mountain.  Read on.

The original plan was to head to Ecola State Park and do a hike there to the top of Tillamook Head from Indian Beach in Ecola State Park but when we got there around 11am we found the road to the beach closed by landslides which would add another 3-4 boring road miles onto the hike.  Bummed, I decided to walk over to the viewpoint and at least get some flights in over the rocky shore just north of Cannon Beach.  

There was a slight mist in the air and it was cloudy and cold but I took the risk of flying my precious drone out over the waves of the Pacific towards Cannon Beach.  I kept a close eye on the battery level, gps strength, and live feed as I flew it far down the beach to get some shore shots as well as nadir shots of the waves crashing below.  Everything was going great as I flew it in sport mode back to the point of land we were standing on.  

That was when I got some weird “battery overdischarge” warning which made my heart jump.  I was out over the open ocean and flipped sport mode off to slowly take back to me and land without issue.  Later I would read that the warning, caused by moisture in the air and low temps, often caused drones to simply descent from altitude and land automatically, which would have put mine in the Pacific!  I got lucky!  

We got a few more shots of each other with my other camera gear before heading to Cannon Beach for some smoked oysters, bay shrimp cocktail and clam chowder for lunch.  It was delicious and is a must anytime we head to the Pacific Coast for a day!  From there we headed south along 101 towards Short Sand Beach and Smuggler Cove to head up Neahkahnie Mountain.  The closest trailhead was packed so we backtracked and started from the lower lot near the beach for a nice walk through the coastal forest on the Oregon Coast Trail past Treasure Cove and the Devil’s Cauldron - Great names!  

The hike was just under 9 miles and gradual on the way up other than some early switchbacks through some thick coastal scrub.  Leo had a blast.  We passed through beautiful open fields on the coast trail and even through the roots of a large sitka spruce on our way to the main trailhead.  We could tell the shore we were skirting was very rocky and I wanted to get some flights in on the way down after we made sure we had enough time for the summit.  

We hustled up the trail gaining around 2,000 feet of elevation before reaching the summit scramble that took us up onto a crumble ridge of bare rock sticking up amongst the forested summit.  This gave us great views out over Neahkanie Beach and Manzanita to the south.  I had a rough time locating a flat enough launch platform for the Mavic and also had trouble getting the compass to cooperate because of iron in the coastal rocks we were standing on.  

Eventually, I got it in the air and had small crowd of people checking me out as I flew it in an orbit pattern around us a the summit, testing its capabilities in the coastal winds that were picking up.  After getting a bunch of footage I brought it back and a nice guy 50 feet below me helped me guide it into a flat landing on the trail below the ridge we were on.  The drone had performed great so far and I was happy with all the footage I was able to capture.  Unfortunately, it would be too late in the day for me to fly again.

We hurried down the trail as the sun set amongst the clouds to the west of us.  We thought we would have to hitch a ride to the lower trailhead but we instead pushed on back along the coast and made it back to the car just before dark.  We grabbed a coffee on the way home and then had a relaxing evening after yet another wonderful day on the Oregon Pacific Coast.  :)

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