Rainy Morning – Day 83: Pacific City to Lincoln City

July 13

We wake up in the morning to a strange sound. Is that…? It is! Rain! It makes me happy to be cozy in my tent with the putter patter all around me. There is a coffee shop nearby so I ask if anyone wants something to drink and instead we all walk in our rain jackets together. I get a London Fog (earl grey tea with vanilla and cream.) Shh. Don’t tell my body I had caffeine. 
At the shop, we’re discussing how we want to handle the day – there is 6 miles of road walking to get to the beach, a short beach walk, and then several more patches of road and beach. So far, Dexter has been adamant that she wants to walk the road pieces – but this morning she says, “I think it’s obvious I’m going to start hitching in order to stay with you guys.”
“Aww,” I say. “We like you, too.”
The rain stops and our tents dry a little so we pack them up and start walking, our thumbs out. We haven’t been super successful with hitching out here – people aren’t as familiar with the trail and most don’t seem to know exactly what we’re doing. Are we travelers? Homeless? Hikers?
But we get lucky and a guy named Pete pulls his big van over, asks where we’re going and agrees to take us. He has to take his kayak out and move his fishing gear for us to fit. “Is this the adventure van?” I ask. He says yes.
Pete tells us that he’s been traveling all around, that in this are he’s been really into hang gliding. But mostly he liked to travel and get seasonal work. He tells is if we’re under 31 that Australia has migrant worker visas and we can do farm work for decent money. He did it but aged out. He wishes he could find more opportunities like that but hasn’t seen any.
He drops us off and we walk the beach. Dexter’s map shows a trail after a mile road walk, but we walk and walk and don’t see it, though Dexter thinks she saw a few old, overgrown trails. We keep walking and then take a break at a truck pullout and Dexter realizes we have 9 more miles of road walking and damn, we really just don’t have it in us. The road is windy, the shoulders not especially generous, and honestly the road just hurts our knees and feet and ankles and hips. We try for a while to hitch, but nothing. So instead we call a cab. So much for no more cabs. But! This one is only $20, and takes only 15 minutes to come get us. Now that’s more like it.

Just hanging by the road side waiting for the taxi 

We set up at the hiker camp. There are lockers with USB ports which we are all impressed with. It’s been interesting the mix of people at these hiker/biker camps – they are primarily bikers, who group together in the same way hikers do. Normally I would want to be chatty but often it feels a little fruitless since I won’t see them again – most of the bikers are doing 50+ miles a day. I am most jealous of them on the downhill road walks. But there are also people in the camps who don’t seem to quite be hikers or bikers. Some of them wear jeans, or have big tents, or don’t seem to have a particular destination. At this camp there is a couple who don’t seem to have hiking gear but say they decided on a whim to hike 200 miles to a hot springs the man had visited when he was younger. The man goes on about how incredible this campsite in and how they’re staying for a few days because it’s so nice. 
He offers to make us dinner which is nice, but we decline and go to Mexican food instead. We don’t want to, but we should do laundry, so I power walk back to camp, take a shower, get my clothes together and power walk back to the laundromat. I just want to get it over with. I spend the time writing blogs and letting the laundromat dog, who reminds me of my dog Echo and sits in front of me in order to get attention. 
We get done around 8. It’s good to have clean clothes. It’s hard to figure out how long we can go because the temperatures are mild, the towns and showers are frequent, but so are normal people. How much stink is acceptable? I’m not exactly sure. 

Beach Walking – Day 82: Cape Lookout to Cape Kiwanda

July 12
We wake up early and are walking by 530. Low tide is at 9 am and the lake is 7 miles away. It doesn’t take long for me to realize I am tired, and then I realize I am also sad. Both of these make me unmotivated. I try to do a systems check: is something in particular bothering me? But really, it just seems like a combo of too much ice cream and days of hurried sleep and too much socialization and not enough down time. 
I step off trail and Energizer Bunny goes to join me but I ask her not to, so she takes off her jacket and asks me if I’m okay and keeps going. I lean against my pack and breathe and close my eyes for a little while. I open them and stare at the trees. And then I get up again and keep going. It is too early to try to explain that sometimes I (and I think everyone, really) get sad for no reason and the only way I know to deal with it is to treat it as kindly as possible. 
I come up the hill and Dexter and Energizer Bunny are waiting for me, Dexter asks if I’m okay and we continue. I put in some sad music and Energizer Bunny walks in front of me and Quiet passes me and we walk the beach and slowly the feeling lifts from my chest. 
We get to Sand Lake at 9:30 and the crossing is no problem, shin deep and not fast, although the sand sucks is in and surprises us so we have to move fast. 
We take a short break and snack and then keep beach walking. Just as I’m getting to Cape Kiwanda I sit down for another snack and two beachgoers chat with me about what we’re doing, where we’re headed. I ask if there’s a bookstore in town but they didn’t see one and the woman offers me the book she’s just finished, but it’s one I’ve already read. I offer her the book I’ve just finished. “Well, what’s it about?” So I tell her and she says she’d love to have it so I dig through my pack and give it to her. Which sort of made my day.
Cape Kiwanda’s neck is essentially a large dune, unlike the other forested capes we’ve crossed. It’s hard to climb but not too tall so we get to the top quickly. I see a little kid riding a snowboard type device down and wonder: can I glissade this? So I pull my Tyvek out and try. The answer is no. (There is a rather amusing video of my attempt on Instagram.)

From there we walk into town. I notice a thrift store and a library and make a mental note to see if I can find a book there. But for now: lunch. It’s Donor, Energizer Bunny, Dexter and me because Quiet and Trooper stopped earlier at a different restaurant. We eat and then it’s almost happy hour so we go inside and get dessert and charge our things. I find a book at the thrift store. 

The boys are taking a bus to Lincoln City because there’s a lot of road walking in the next section. Us girls are taking a bus back to the County Campground and figuring out what we want to do from there. Mostly, I tell them, I want to be able to sleep and not have to get up as early as possible to leave. 
At the campground the host gives us a bit of a deal and there are a bunch of baby rabbits running around the grounds. We set up camp and go to bed. 

Hiker Trash in Beach Town – Day 81: Netarts Beachside to Cape Lookout Campground

July 11

We get up early so that we don’t get caught on the beach. Today, the group splits – Donor and Trooper are going to hike ahead while Quiet, Dexter, Energizer Bunny and I take a bus to Tillamook to resupply and get a power bank but mostly to tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
We catch the 7 am bus which means we are early, so of course we stop for breakfast. It’s our first real breakfast of the trail and we order so much food that the server shakes his head a little, but it’s a normal amount to us and even though we’re not hiking as much as the PCT, we eat it all.
From there, we walk a mile and a half to Fred Meyer. Quiet and I talk (he is named Quiet ironically, because he’s chatty, though he claims to be an introvert at home) and walking down the roads I am struck with a feeling that I’m a traveler now. I see people in their normal everyday lives and I think – that isn’t me. I did the thing I wanted to do, that I was afraid I wasn’t brave enough for. I stepped away. I chose an unconventional life, if only temporarily. I think of Jack Kerouac and other exaltations of traveling and freedom and in this moment I think, oh – this is that feeling. To feel different and to walk through the life you’re not choosing. To feel like you stepped outside of the system. To feel like you broke free, like you can see it all for what it really is, like you have found the secret. 
We step into Fred Meyer. I help Energizer Bunny get situated with electronics and then get some fuel and then stand at the sunglass kiosk for a while trying on sunglasses. This trail has made me more self conscious about my hikertrash appearance, or maybe it’s tiring to look so dirty all the time. Dexter has gone so far as to start wearing deodorant again. Being around non-hikers makes me aware of how dirty my clothes have permanently become, how loose they are, how much I do not look like a bubbly, fun hiker. And the weight I’ve lost I notice most in my face, which seems to look svelte to others but looks gaunt to me, and my body awkward and gangly. There are a few things I enjoy: my armpit hair is longer than it’s ever been, probably 3 inches, and I am getting a kick out of its presence. My legs are solid muscle. Even my arms are more cut, bulging from trekking pole use. 
But ultimately I don’t buy sunglasses, because I can’t find a pair that transforms me from looking like hiker trash to dayhiker. Go figure. 
It’s another half mile to the cheese factory and we try all the cheeses and order grilled cheeses and then we go back for ice cream. We spot a deal: a five ice cream sampler. The cashier says they’re junior scoops, but when we get our cups I’m faced with more ice cream than I’ve ever been tasked with eating. “You’ve never eaten a pint of ice cream before?” Dexter asks, like it’s a normal thing to do. No! I say. Dexter ends up finishing my ice cream for me. Quiet tells us that he spent years of his life thinking that everyone else was eating 6 or 7 eggs for breakfast like he was. He once ate 11 eggs, he tells us. 
Apologizing to my body, I waddle to the bus stop and we ride back to where we left off. The goal is to get a little boat across the water so we don’t have to road walk, but when I ask the first person coming in he says that it can’t be crossed, the water is shallow and there’s a clam bed. I don’t believe him, but I also don’t see any other boats. 
Dexter starts walking but Quiet, Energizer Bunny and I get a hitch from a man Quiet had chatted up. It is nice to have Quiet because he sits in the front and chats with the driver, which I usually have to do. When we get to camp we debate a little bit over what to do – keep walking so we’re closer to the lake we need to cross at low tide, or wait for Dexter, camp here and leave very early? 
The camp is nice so we decide to stay. I take a shower and we cook the sausages I’d packed out and they’re delicious. We’re joined by Mermaid, who I hiked with on the PCT (!!) and Frank, a hiker from Ghana who had been traveling all over but was new to hiking.
I get in my tent around 8 but stay up late finishing my book. It is such a pleasure to read out here.

A Practice of Noticing – Day 80: Bar View Jetty Camp to Netarts Beachside

July 10

We walk on the beach and then into Garibaldi. I’d called the night before to arrange a boat and I invite the boys to join us. They don’t seem to care much for planning so they’re happy to lean on our plans. We’re too early so we sit in a coffee shop until 9:30, then walk to the Marina. The people there are incredibly nice and have the funniest big dogs, who are running around the boats and jumping into the water after the lid of a bucket, a low-cost frisbee. 

We get to the other side and start to walk the spit. I feel a little romantic over our 6-person group as we move over the sand. A traveling tribe. The guys seem happy to have us around but also like their own little group. This was the kind of grouping I imagined on the PCT – natural, grateful, temporary. And watching everyone walk down the beach, our strange, heavy hobbles, our packs like hunchbacks among the walkers with their bright colors and dogs and hoodies and barefoot feet, my heart feels full and happy. 

We’re a little nervous to get to Cape Meares, where there is a trail that is best accessed at low tide, which we will not be reaching it at. When we get there an older local man tells us our options, but warns the trail itself is boggy – “we’ve heard reports of it being waste deep.” Hmm. I appreciate his help but I am also noticing there seems to be a bit of fear about the trails, unwarranted. Someone had told a friend a few weeks ago that the trail “vanished” on Neah-Kah-Nie mountain when it was just a couple of downed trees.
The group huddles and I say, “I want to at least try it” so we cross over some sand stone and rocks and find a rope tied to the wall and some sandy steps and crawl up. And from there, the trail is fine – no bog, and hardly even any mud. The trail leads us to a lookout area where volunteers are set up with spotting scopes and show us birds and sea lions in the distance.
Afterward there’s a stretch of road walking. Energizer Bunny and I detour into Oceanside to see if there are any stores for her to replace her power bank, but there isn’t. We do find a restaurant and sit down but then realize it’s fancy, expensive, and we’re sticking out, so instead we get burgers to go. 
Then it’s more beach walking. The wind is blowing hard and the bag of burgers is blowing around in my hand and at one point my hat blows off and I have to run after it, my pack still on, but I catch it.
We’d planned to camp at what our guidebook says is a hiker biker camp near Netarts, but it’s not where we think it is and we realize the book never actually gives it a name and so instead we go to a bar and grill nearby and hang out there until the sun starts to go down and stealth camp on the beach. The problem with stealth camping is that the sun goes down late, after 930, and is up early, which means we have to get going and we don’t get much sleep. 
But these small inconveniences and concerns are part of what make the OCT fun. We are in town almost every day, we see beautiful coast line, water is plentiful if usually unplannable. I am not trying to impress anyone here, not measuring how good of a hiker I am, not worried about miles. I am here to see what is beautiful. I want to take that with me when I go back to the PCT. I want to watch the thruhikers fly by me and be okay with that, even the ones I like. I want to take pictures of slugs and spider webs and cool trees, not just vistas. 
I want to do what I must to enjoy the beauty of the trail as often as possible, and to keep moving. I have proven to myself that I can suffer, that I can find kindness for myself in that struggle, my initial intention. Now I want to know: Can you breathe? Can you look closely? Is the wilderness moving through you? Will you let it?

A Thief at Camp – Day 79: Nehalem Bay State Park to Barview Jetty County Park

Date: July 9

I wake up and use Dexter’s shampoo in the shower and it is glorious. We get hiking, a beach walk, and I call my friend Sarah and catch up with her a little as I walk.
Then we get to Jetty Fishery, where for $10 a guy named Josh takes us in a tiny motorized boat across the bay. Josh is funny and makes a lot of quick, dry jokes. 

When we get across Katie spots free crab and decides she has to have some, so we put our bags down and she and Energizer Bunny order. I’ve never had crab so I don’t order any – I’m not sure I’ll like it. But Energizer Bunny cracks hers and gives me half and it is unbelievably delicious, though not very filling. 

As we are getting ready to leave, three other hikers – Donor, Quiet and Trooper – show up. Energizer Bunny is thrilled because she’d hiked with Trooper on the PCT. Quiet is carrying a kite he highbrow in Seaside that he attaches to his pack and flies as he Beach walks. We are definitely not on the PCG anymore.

They’re not doing much planning so we mention where we’re camping and the say they’ll see us there. 

We walk some abandoned railroad tracks and then get back to the beach. Later in the day we get to Rockaway. Katie dries her feet on the beach and Energizer Bunny and I go to town and to a cafe. I order food and charge my battery. I have a coconut lemonade that is totally delicious. I’m feeling super sleepy so I put my sunglasses on and take a nap right there on the chair. 
After that we get back to the beach. I call and talk to Mark as I walk. When I finally get to camp we find out it is not $6 like we expected but $20. We have to agree to only set up one tent or it’s closer to $40. 
Quiet, Donor and Trooper join us and chat. It sounds like we’ll be doing similar hiking for at least a couple days.
Energizer Bunny plugs her charger into the bathroom and goes and takes a shower, and by the time she comes back someone has taken her plug, cord and power bank. She’s had several problems with people stealing things of hers since she’s started hiking. Sometimes people just do unfriendly things. I tell her she can charge with my plug for the next day until we get to town and she can replace what she’s lost. Still, with a little hope we ask the register if they’ve had anything turned in, but no, so I leave a note in the bathroom asking for it’s safe return. But no luck. 
As the sun goes down we all set up our tents and no one bothers us about there being two extra. The boys camp in a secluded spot and no one notices. Infrequent and expensive legal camping is a reality of this trail. Energizer Bunny says she’s going to complain about it to whoever is in charge of the trail. But in a way, it adds a nice challenge and a bit of adventure. 

The Most Expensive Cab Ride – Day 78: Short Sand Beach to Nehalem Bay State Park

Date: July 8

I wake up around 2am and look out and the moon is setting on the horizon, so bright orange it could be the sun. This trail is full of so many surprises. 
Nobody bothers us about camping and we sleep great. It’s a little confusing where to go when we get hiking but we figure it out – the trail signs are so infrequent that sometimes I even forget to look for them to help. 
Today we climb Neah-Kah-Nie mountain, which isn’t that long or hard, but gives us a gorgeous view of the ocean. I see Dexter scramble up a steep rocky area and follow her. About 3/4 of the way up I see a headstone which makes me a little nervous but even though it’s steep, the rocks are stable. Once we’re at the top we see an easier route down. But the view from the top is worth it. 

On the way down I see a lot of dayhikers and some stop to talk about where we’re headed, which is fun. From there we hike into Manzanita. We go to the grocery store, where the staff is incredibly friendly to us, to lunch at Left Coast Siesta where I eat a massive burrito with enthusiasm, and then to ice cream. Before we get to ice cream we see two other hikers and say hello – they’d jumped from the PCT, too, but had decided not to do the OCT and had just been hanging around town before heading north for a southbound hike. 
After ice cream, it’s laundry time. It’s two miles to the laundromat and we don’t want to walk it so we call a cab. The cab takes 40 minutes to head over and the two minute ride costs $25 and, well, that settles it: no more cabs for us (unless absolutely necessary.)
While our clothes wash I start planning the upcoming sections of the trail in my notebook, which has helped a lot. There aren’t any bathrooms so we change our clothes in the middle of the building since no one else is in there (we ignore the cameras.)
I make a sign saying “Oregon Coast Hikers to Manzanita” hoping we’ll get a hitch, but no one bites, so we end up walking all the way back. I get something to bring for dinner at the grocery store and get walking. 
When we’re almost to camp, I realize: the shampoo I’d bought at the store never made it into my bag. I’d been so stoked for clean hair and now I might not get it. Bummer. But at camp, Dexter says she has some I can use. Shower saved!
An older man with long grey hair says hello when we get to the hiker camp. Some bikers are there and so are the two hikers we met earlier. We all sit around and chat, the older guy plays guitar. He turns out to be quite the character, breaking into monologues about acid and starships and near death experiences. He says he’s traveling from state park to state park. It’s 1030 by the time I go to bed.

Waves Are Magic – Day 77: Arcadia Beach to Short Sand Beach

Date: July 7

Miles: 12ish

Sleeping on the beach is amazing and our tents aren’t wet and I am happy happy happy. We’ve woken up early-ish to catch the low tide and get walking. On the beach I find a whole sand dollar – I’ve seen endless amounts of broken ones but never a whole one outside of a store. I put it in my pocket. 

Hug Point is totally passable. We climb up onto the old road and I feel a little bad – I try to step without touching the anemones and other living creatures attached to the flat surface. 

A man we camped with at Tillamook Head rides by on his bicycle and then chats with me and tells me about some of the trail coming up – namely that the suspension bridge we have to cross in the next mile looks like it’s on someone’s property. 

After the bridge we enter the longest stretch of forest in the coast, according to the guidebook. It’s beautiful. And also… a little overgrown. It’s fun to be on a trail, to dodge roots and tackle mud and push through bushes. 

And then we come across a small side trail that leads to a view and I sit down and it’s one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. The ocean crashes against rocks and has created coved and it looks like it’s out of a movie. 

After a while we keep moving. We’re not allowed to camp at Oswald West State Park but we don’t have another 9 miles in us to get to the next camp, so we look for stealth options, but there aren’t any really. We get to the picnic area and eat dinner and decide we’re just going to wait out the surfers and families and then set up our tents here. In the meantime, the crows are loud and obnoxious – they sound like the kind of noise a human would make to be irritating, and their calls are so constant that I start laughing and laughing and laughing, and then Dexter and I start making the noises with them. Ba-caw! Creeeaw! 

Around 8:30 I’m tired of waiting and set up my tent and go to sleep. Dexter cowboy camps hidden behind a tree. Energizer Bunny waits a little longer and then cowboy camps too.