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. 

The Hot Springs Were Everything I Wanted Them To Be – Day 26: Splinters Cabin to Deep Creek Dam Offshoot

pacific crest trail

Miles: 15.3

Woke up this morning around 530 but stayed cuddled in my tent. It was a little cold out, and also on easy terrain days without the hot heat Rawhide and I haven’t found it necessary to get up super early. Eventually I started getting my pack together and went to the bathroom – ah, the simple pleasures of being able to poop in total privacy and throw the TP away. I was on the road briefly before Rawhide at 7am but I quickly stopped in the middle of the trail because I had cell service and proceeded to click around the internet.

In under an hour we hit mile 300. I tried to take a selfie of both of us with my SticPic but the sun wasn’t cooperating so I have a few goofy photos of both of us and then a decent one of just me. We didn’t pause to reflect on our accomplishment because we had one goal in mind: Hot Springs. 

We reached the Hot Springs at around 11am and saw a bunch of people there, thruhikers and dayhikers, and many of them were naked. We ate lunch and then I kept bugging Rawhide until she came with me to get in the Springs. I went in in my underwear and my bra and shirt, not so much for modesty as sun protection (although I am not quite up to nudity around a bunch of hikers I will likely see down the trail yet). The Hot Springs were amazing. Shipwreck and Iguana joined us and a girl named Helen I’ve seen a few times was there too. I got hot quickly and climbed out and laid in the sand and took a nap while other hikers filtered – we saw Mousetrap, Rachel, Twerk, Hobo and Catty and many others. Hobo and Catty says Scissors wasn’t far behind but we waited and didn’t see her.

But the Hot Springs were magical and a wonderful treat. It’s one of the first days I lounged for the sake of lounging and took my time and got to hang out somewhere really beautiful. I think I need to try to incorporate a “Hot Springs moment” into as many days as possible so I have something to look forward to and enjoy other than collapsing in my tent at night. 

Eventually Rawhide and I got our things together and set off for the next 4.5 mile stretch to water. We continued to walk the ridge line on basically flat ground the whole way. 

Rawhide was feeling pretty tired and we decided to try to camp near the water source. But once we got there she said, what do you want to do? And I said I don’t care, we can try to find a place to camp (our maps suggested there was no camping) or we can go to the campground in another 5 miles. I think she thought I wanted to push so she said let’s keep going, but she was clearly tired and kept saying she was feeling grumpy, especially because her phone was dead and not charging, and as soon as we started moving I could feel how unmotivated I was and how sad my body was to be moving again. She pulled off the trail to grab some water and the area was flat and sandy so I said – let’s just camp here. And she said okay. So we did. It’s 730 and I’m already laying on my back in my tent and the sun isn’t even down yet. Some hikers kept going because they heard you could order pizza at the road a half mile up. I made a gross dinner (Parmesan couscous and tuna) that was super disappointing and I packed half of it away. But luckily it’s only a day and a half to Cajon Pass where there’s a McDonald’s and therefore a trash can. 

I’m really liking my new shoes, though I do have to cut open the pinky toe area yesterday. My ankles are still stiff in the morning but they don’t seem to hurt as bad warming up with the new shoes, and I’m going to try to stretch even more to hopefully get them to calm down. 

I had an interesting moment of clarity on the trail today where I felt really strongly that I didn’t want to go back to a “career” type job when I go home. In fact, part of what motivates me not to quit is how little I want to go back to “real” life. But who knows how I’ll feel at the end of the trail, or even a week from now. 

I also spent about 45 minutes arguing with Mark in my head about something that hadn’t happened, so my brain isn’t super reliable is what I’m saying. 

Friends + Family of Hikers: Some Questions to Ask When They Call Home

pacific crest trail

I’ve heard of a few instances where hikers call home or friends and the conversation has been less than encouraging. I think part of the reason that happens is because people imagine that we’re out here having the time of our lives and maybe even need to be brought back down to earth, or think the things we want to talk about are the itinerary of our days. 

That may be true for some hikers, but it seems to me a lot of us are trying to process some of the negative thoughts patterns we have out here (and back home, too) and emotions that come up. I’ve also heard that one of the hardest things about eventually leaving the trail is that people at home don’t understand at all what you’ve been through. I’m hoping this list of ideas will help bridge the gap and help make hikers still feel connected and understood by their support people back home. (Keep in mind this is from the perspective of someone who’s only been out here for 3 weeks.)

How are you feeling today?

What was the last section like?

What was the hardest part about it?

What was your favorite part about it?

How are your feet/back/new shoes/stomach problems/whatever small thing they’ve told you has changed?

How are you feeling about the trip so far?

What are you looking forward to?

What’s it like when you get to town?

Are you being nice to yourself?

Are you hiking with people? What do you think of them?

How much time are you spending alone? Is it too little? Too much?

What have you been thinking about as you hike?

Have you had any really upsetting moments?

Have you had any moments where you were afraid?

How many miles are you doing? Does it feel like the right amount?
Hikers, feel free to add more questions in the comments!

Finally Got To Camp Before Dark – Day 19: Bottom of San Jacinto to Whitewater Creek

pacific crest trail

I was struggling to sleep last night, my tent was on a slant and I was too warm. I was pretty sure I could hear mice all night. Once I figured it out and got comfortable I slept topless and on my belly and drooled all over my air mattress and finally fell asleep. 

I let myself sleep until 6 or so and took a while to get ready, leaving around 745. I chatted with Scissors until she had to step off to pee and I continued on. The wind was blowing pretty hard and consistently and I was surprised until I realized I was hiking right next to a wind farm. Duh. 

I met up with Shipwreck, Iguana and Rawhide under the i10 overpass before they continued on. We’d done four miles and it had only felt like two because it was so flat, even with the wind. I ate breakfast and thought Cate, Mike and Scissors would catch me but they didn’t, so I hiked on.

The trail took us through some very rural residential areas, passing a yard with a boat, a car, and a van with open doors. The trail crossed several dirt roads. For much of the morning to my left were tall, deserty mountains, and to my right was snow-capped San Jacinto. 

I leapfrogged with Shipwreck and Iguana several times before meeting them at the Mesa Wind Farm office, which offers cold water, shade, and sometimes snacks to hikers. Rawhide was there chatting with Isaac, who had worked there for 15 years. I took the time to drink my Gatorade and have a banana and when Rawhide made a move to leave a few minutes later, I followed her. She’s been walking on a rolled ankle all day but she still outpaced me. 

There was one really steep climb for the day, and at the top Rachel, who I haven’t seen for several days, was resting and eating lunch. I’d gotten pumped up on a fast song so I kept going down the switchbacks and then stopped in some shade at the bottom. I ate some lunch and as I was getting up to leave, Tarantino came up. Tarantino had to descend off of San Jacinto two days ago because he got altitude sickness and he told me the story – he’d been nauseated and seeing black spots and when he got back to the trail head he vomited. Poor guy. He’s feeling better now and we chatted and hiked together, eventually catching up with Rawhide. We only had two miles to go until our water source and intended campsite when we ran into two hikers, Catty and Hobo, who invited us to share their shade and sit on their foam pads. Hobo has started calling me Burger Babe because I orchestrated the In N Out run last night. They’re really lovely women and they call us all “honey”. 

We kept moving until we got to Whitewater Creek and stuck our feet in the fast-flowing water. It was only 430 pm, which is the fastest 15 mile day I’ve done out here yet. I think most of that is owed to the generally mild terrain we had today. I probably could have taken a break and out in more miles – maybe even my first 20 – but I haven’t had a relaxing camp time in weeks (I always show up too late for much camp time relaxation). So instead we lounged and eventually set up our tents. I got a ziplock and rinsed my socks and underwear and Tarantino, Rawhide and I chatted by the creekside eating dinner.

It’s a full moon tonight and we’ve seen several nighthikers pass. Maybe one of these days I’ll do a real night hike. The moonrise was pretty incredible.

In other fun body news, I think I may have the beginnings of monkey butt, also known as ass chafe. I hope it cures itself overnight because it is absolutely no fun.

The next few days are all uphill until we get to Big Bear. I’m not sure yet if I’ll zero there or just take a nero. But my hunger is really kicking in – maybe because it’s not so hot – and I’m looking forward to making better food choices at my next resupply. (More: chocolate, bagels, cheeses, backpacker instant meals. Less: things that require preparation)