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

Oregon Coast Trail

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

Oregon Coast Trail

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

Oregon Coast Trail

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. 

The Best Sunset of Summer – Day 76: Tillamook Head to Arcadia Beach

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 6
Miles: 10ish
I take a while to fall asleep because I keep hearing scratching and running sounds, sometimes seemingly right by my head. But every time I look, I don’t see anything, so I put it out of my head and fall asleep.
In the morning we wake in the dark and open the door for some light. I crawl down from the top bunk and see it – mouse running across the log a few feet from my head. Energizer Bunny’s food bag has been chewed into. But otherwise, no damage. 
It’s a nice day and there is no condensation on any of our stuff which is awesome. The walk is super pleasant. We get to the trail for Ecola Point but the OCT is closed in this area, so instead we walk a forest road and dodge cars and eventually the ranger points us to a side trail with beautiful views.

In Cannon Beach, we have lunch. We go to a fish and chips shop, to the grocery store, to a coffee shop. I get a slice of pizza. We hang out there since there’s nowhere to go as we’re waiting for low tide to get around Hug Point.

People have been really nice and ask us about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed all the time 

But as I’m drinking tea and charging my electronics, I realize we’ve misread the tide – low tide is an hour earlier than we thought. We move quick and get to the beach, where we see some volunteers near one of the large rocks and tide pools. They say even the low tide tonight is probably not low enough to get where we need to go. Crap. We can’t legally camp anywhere nearby, but Dexter says we should try stealth camping so we push on.

Dexter found a starfish!

We end up at Arcadia Beach with one of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen, and an incredible sunset.

 I sit on a log and sing into the ocean breeze while Energizer Bunny and Dexter explore the beach. I have missed singing and I am thankful the sound of the waves still makes it a private thing. I call my family. At dark we set up our tents and fall asleep to the sound of the sea. 

More Vagabond than Hiker -Day 75: Bud’s RV Park to Tillamook Head Hiker Camp

Oregon Coast Trail

Miles: more than 8, less than 15, genuinely don’t know how to keep track

Date: July 5th

In the morning I wake up around 5:30 to a soaking wet tent, so I decide to deal with it maturely by going back to sleep. It’s foggy and there’s no point in getting up early. So I don’t.
Around 630 I start to get my stuff together. I buy breakfast and some snacks from the camp store. Around 830 Energizer Bunny and I get walking, back to the road. It’s only about an hour before we’re in the town of Seaside. We head to the boardwalk and walk and people watch, and then we hit a road that clearly leads to delicious restaurants and cute shops and I tell Energizer Bunny: “Um, I’m going to go explore.”

She’s down too. She doesn’t want to plan and seems happy to follow whatever itinerary I set. I spot a restaurant I want to eat at but it’s too early early for lunch so I keep walking. Then I see a bookstore. I can’t help myself and I go inside. I tell the woman the kind of book I’m in the mood for and she pulls a few off the shelf and I buy one. I sit for a few minutes and then I go back in and find some journals, too. They’re beautiful, and I’ve decided I’m not going to care much about miles in this trail so I may as well read and write. And one of the journals I’m going to use for planning this trip, which is more complicated than the PCT because there isn’t one good resource to follow mindlessly. 
We wait around until 11 and then go to lunch. I try an Oyster Po Boy and realize I don’t like oysters. Oh well. I’m happy to be eating seafood that isn’t tuna packets regardless.
From there we hike along the boardwalk and then a road and we arrive at the Trailhead for Tillamook Head, which my friend who has just finished the trail said was awesome. It’s lush and green and I’m stoked. I’m also stoked because I’ve decided I’m only going to do about 10 miles a day out here, except for when necessary otherwise, which means I only have to get 4 miles to the hiker camp. I’ve decided that on this trail I will feel more like a vagabond than a hiker, and that’s okay. There will be a lot of town meals, hot tea, people watching, and hopefully more time to reflect on what exactly I am doing out here. 

I walk through what is basically a wonderland and I text my husband saying we need to move to the northwest and eventually I reach camp. There I meet another former PCT hiker, trailname Dexter, and we chat with each other.
The interesting thing about this camp is there are wooden huts with wooden bunk beds set up for use. Katie’s already set up in one. I’m a little skeptical because I’m imagining spiders and rodents. My tent is still soaking wet so I set it up to dry it and hang the rain fly. Energizer Bunny is going to sleep in the hut, too, and finally I just blow up my air mattress and set it on the top bunk.

More people arrive and a Swiss family gets a fire going. Dexter takes us to look at Terrible Tilly, a lighthouse off the coast, as well as some barracks and the slugs who live on them. 

The Swiss family cook chicken legs and offer us some. Their 14 year old son knows all the states and whether they’re republican or democratic, which I find impressive. Then they offer us Swiss chocolate.
It doesn’t get dark til 9:30, which is when we go bed. I’ve brought my rolled up tent inside and hope for no condensation. I read my book with the red light of my headlamp, and then I try to fall asleep. 

Independence on the OCT – Day 74: Northern Terminus to Bud’s RV Park and CampgroundĀ 

Oregon Coast Trail

Date: July 4th
Miles: 13? 14? 15? Unclear how to keep track out here
We were up late, 11 or so, and I’m reluctant to get out of bed. I rouse myself around 6:10 and my pack is packed and I’m dressed so there’s really not much to do. I go downstairs and have a cup of tea and chat with Scott and his family. Energizer Bunny was already up.

When I finish my tea Scott drives us to the Terminus, stopping at a sporting goods store so I can get fuel and Fred Meyer so Energizer Bunny can get a Swiss Army knife, which the airport has made her leave behind. 
We get to the Terminus around 9am and get hiking. I’m excited to be on the beach, which is beautiful, and I find myself picking up sea shells and sand dollars. The beach is littered with crab shells, which is totally new to me. I’m even singing too myself, the sea breeze making it a private sound. I’ve missed singing a lot out here.

As we’re walking I’m stopped by a woman who asks where we’re going and I tell her. She tells me about some of the Caminos she’s hiked. I walk a little further and a former PCT hiker who was headed north spots us and gives us some info about the upcoming trail.
“It’s a lot of stopping for coffee,” he says. “Very different from the PCT.”
I’m noticing that Energizer Bunny is quiet around new people but chatty with me. She’s also started looking to me to translate when people don’t understand her Hong Kong accent.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

We walk on the beach for 6 miles or so and much to my surprise, I am downright sick of it. It’s the same view the whole way – ocean to my right, sand in front, grassy hill to my left. And there are cars zooming past is because this part of the beach is also considered a highway. And I’m a little nervous about water – the guidebook and resources talked about how plentiful water was, so I’ve only brought a liter, but I’m not seeing any notes about exactly where to g water in this stretch and it’s making me nervous.
We get to a beach entrance/exit point and I ask if she wants to keep walking the beach or wants to get on the road.
“Road,” she says. 
We find a store and I buy a bottle of water and we make lunch at the park next door. It’s a mountain house, and it’s not good. I can already tell camp food is going to feel miserable about here because real food is so nearby. 
Then we get walking. I’m not sure the road was better than the beach and I’m missing the general choicelessness of the PCT. There, there is usually only one way to get to where you’re going. Here there are a million, and constant temptation for easier modes of travel. 
Luckily the road, highway 101, has a generous shoulder. What we don’t know is where we’re going to sleep. We walk and walk and walk. I’m worried about water again. 

I pull out my phone and google restaurants nearby and see a coffee kiosk a half mile ahead, so we head there. Energizer Bunny orders a Mountain Dew and the man fills our water bottles. I ask if he knows if any campgrounds around.
“Bud’s is three miles ahead,” he says. 
It’s Fourth of July and I’m nervous we’ll be shit out of luck, but I call anyway. They have one tentsite left and I book it. I also notice on their google page that there’s a Chinese restaurant next door. I spend the next three miles fantasizing about food, and eventually we get there.
“Food first?” I ask Energizer Bunny, and she agrees.

I hiked in my new Tevas all day and got a sunburn. Pale people problems. 

After food we check in and set up our tents. I take a shower because it’s there and make a note to actually buy some shampoo and conditioner to carry, since I’ll have regular access to hiker camps. 
I’m in bed as the fireworks go off. It feels good to be back in my tent. But I’m a little nervous I’ve broken something I need for walking, some kind of momentum or spirit or willingness to suffer. I’m afraid I left it on the PCT. I’m afraid I won’t find it again.