The Hiker’s New Clothes – Day 84: Lincoln City to Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site

Oregon Coast Trail

July 14

Dexter is slow to leave camp but gets ahead of us because we have errands. I’m crossing a crosswalk in town and looking at directions on my phone and I see a woman trying to turn right look at me and shake her head, disgusted. I realize she’s probably mad because she thinks I’m homeless and have an iPhone. 
On the way out of town Energizer Bunny and I stop at a grocery store. I get some things for snacks and a few meals and fresh fruit and we sit outside arranging our packs when a woman walks up and tries to hand Energizer Bunny a dollar. “Huh?” Energizer Bunny says.
“Oh! That’s very sweet of you. But we’re not homeless,” I say. “We’re hikers.”
“Oh! I felt so bad,” the woman says. 
This is new. On the PCT everyone seemed to know that we were hikers and we didn’t have these kinds of encounters. Here, I am noticing people seem a little surprised by my eye contact, my friendliness, my willingness to engage. I am noticing people avoid looking at me. Weird. I am not sure how to feel. I’m not offended. I am a little sad, to see how different it feels to have people think they know you right away. And I feel a little bad, looking like I’m in a different position than is accurate, like I’m dressing up when I don’t mean to. My clothes are too big, because to be on trail is to accidentally starve and be permanently dirty from 800 miles of walking. 
We go the AT&T store and the woman there wants to hike the PCT and knows exactly what I am and I get a phone case, since mine is letting sand in. We’re going to leave town, these errands have taken too long, when Energizer Bunny spots an outlet mall that has outdoor retailers – Under Armor, North Face, Columbia. I nearly jump for joy. I power shop and get myself a new bra (I’d had the bra I was wearing for a year before trail, and a month ago one underwire popped out, then the other, and in the mirror I see the sad state of my chest and wonder why I was bothering to wear a bra at all) and new shirt and pants and damn if I don’t feel like a new woman.
Maybe it’ll help with the hitching, too, I think.


Harbor seals!

Then we have a long road walk. But as hard as it is, I have an awesome new audiobook that makes it pleasant enough. I’m enjoying the book when a truck drives by and creates a huge gust of wind that blows my hat and my PCT 2017 bandana clear off my head. I turn around but there nowhere to be seen. I set my pack down and try to find the telltale red. Nothing. They’re gone.
I am not particularly sentimental. I did really like that hat. Mostly I think: oh man, my poor nose is going to buuuurn. I smother my face in with screen and cover my head with my buff. 
I catch up with Energizer Bunny and Dexter and we decide to camp a few miles before where we had originally intended. It’s a nice spot to stealth camp. And we’re tired. And what’s the hurry?

One thought on “The Hiker’s New Clothes – Day 84: Lincoln City to Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site

  1. Our coastline has a fairly high homeless population. There really isnt much work out there. Locals may see you and think you guys are new homeless to the area which understandably irritates them. Hopefully we get the OCT fully completed and it gets some more regular use. It’s doubtful that the coast population will ever be as familiar with RECREATIONAL backpackers as the pct adjacent towns are. Good luck and welcome to oregon!

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