They’re Not all Karens

September 10th

OCT Day 7

Approximately 3 miles

I awake once more to the sound of rain, sigh. Actually today is my last day hiking and I don’t have far to go, so whatever. I sleep a bit longer, and the rain has stopped. I set about breaking down my tent, when I notice a woman and her little dog trying to get my attention from the beach. At first I think she’s waving and trying to say hello, but then I vaguely here, “Can’t…there…Go!…Call security.” Ok Karen (my apologies to anyone actually named Karen, but the meme you know), calm down. Apparently she doesn’t like the fact that I stayed on her beautiful beach without buying a multi million dollar home first. As I mentioned in my previous post though, there was no signage, and it was out of view from the surrounding homes, so fair game. Since she is too far away to actually communicate with, I ignore her and her yappy dog. Once I start hiking, I pass her as she is coming back along the beach. I smile and attempt to make eye contact, willing to civilly converse. She refuses to acknowledge my existence at this point because, not only is she a bully, but like most bullies she’s also a coward. Good riddance Karen, go home and mind your own business.

After a very short walk, I arrive in Oceanside. My phone has no signal, and I don’t know where to wait for the bus. I locate a cute little cafe attached to the “Three Arches Inn.” I’m in a bit of a mood from my Karen encounter earlier. One of the baristas says he saw me walking on the road yesterday, and that I looked like the happiest guy he’d ever seen. This cheers me up immensely, as does the French toast and cold brew. While I’m enjoying breakfast, another middle aged woman that I saw on the beach asks if it was me who was camped on the bluff last night. I get ready to defend myself, but she just says that it looked like a beautiful spot, and she hopes I enjoyed it. It turns out that she also has taught abroad, like way before I did, and in much more rural areas. It’s an enormous delight speaking to her, and such a dramatic change from the Karen. Once she leaves, I talk to the barista a bit more, and it comes up that I’m a flight attendant. He says he could never do it because he’s afraid of heights. He overheard our conversation, and also wants to assure me that I was fine camping where I did last night.

A little while later I’m on a transit bus back to Tillamook. It’s a short trip by bus, and then I’m waiting at the Tillamook transit station. Bus stops man… there’s someone coughing like consumption is making a comeback, but I can’t see the culprit. There’s a lady who asks me to call the DMV for her because she doesn’t know how to use her smart phone. There’s a couple who have clearly been doing more than smoking weed now smoking weed under a hedge. There’s also a woman with a ridiculous dog that she keeps calling a Chiweenie. If she says the word Chiweenie, one more time I may lose it.

Finally the bus arrives. I don’t have exact change, so I end up with a round trip ticket with no expiration date. I guess that’s good, as I need to get back to this spot. After about an hour and a half I find myself back in a Portland, where I plan to catch up with a couple of old friends, eat too much, and maybe buy a couple books. I’m looking forward to a rest before heading back to work, but also very excited to come back to the OCT in spring. Thank you all for reading along…

“Strange roads have strange guides…” -Ursula Le Guin

Hiker Hobble and Minor Reflection

September 9th

OCT Day 6

Approximately 19 miles

Thank goodness I got a room, it sounds like a monsoon out there throughout the night. When the light starts peeking through my window I peek back. It’s still raining, but I can’t stay here all day. I try to fit my exploded pack all back together before heading out for some breakfast and coffee. I start hobbling down the street, which is called hiker hobble. It’s experienced most strongly in town once you aren’t carrying your pack. While hikers are weighed down by their packs the walk strong and confidently, but without, they hobble. I guess life is a little like that too. We need a little something weighing us down in order to stay grounded.

I stop at a little cafe down the street and chat with some ladies visiting from Colorado while I wait for my breakfast sandwich (favorite trail food) and coffee. Once I get back to the room, I take one bite and almost chuck it back up. The sandwich is fine, but something is amiss with my tummy. I venture out again and find some Pepto Bismol because I can’t be hiking AND tossing cookies. When I get back to the motel the second time, I groan in frustration as I realize I’ve locked myself out. The lady in the lobby is super friendly and hands me a couple of granola bars for the road before letting me back into my room.

Today is going to be a bit of a long one, and all road walking. Nothing too terribly exciting happens throughout the morning. My stomach starts to feel a bit better, and I try a granola bar. I spend a lot of time making sure I don’t get hit by oncoming traffic. It continues to rain on and off, but it actually feels quite nice. Morning hiking is the best, everything feels fresh and exciting. I hay truck speeds by me, and the damp alfalfa is one of the best scents I can think of. I see a beaver hard at work on his dam in the ravine below the road. I also see a boat in Tillamook Bay get pulled over by the local law enforcement. Tillamook Bay is gorgeous, and looking back at Girabaldi is breathtaking, a study in misty tranquility. I wonder what the cars passing me see? I feel energized and intrepid. My eyes are bright and my hair is blowing in the wind. Do they see that and wish they were in my shoes? Do they perhaps think I’m a poor homeless dude schlepping through the rain?

Now that my appetite has returned, I stop into a Tillamook outlet snack shop and get two feet of meat (their words), some sour gummies, and a Monster energy drink. It’s not as good as crabs and beer, but almost. About halfway to the city Tillamook, as I’m getting back to the highway after a potty break, a truck with handicap plates pulls off on the shoulder. The two young guys in the cab ask if I need a ride. I thank them, but decline. I truly appreciate the offer though. I’m not sure why I’m so stubborn about this, it isn’t a thru-hike after all, but I still feel the need to walk the whole way (ferries don’t count, they are part of the trail).

I take a detour to the pharmacy (and Starbucks) in town. I get some cold sore medication, I’m pretty sure sunburnt lips caused the sore. It’s uncomfortable and unsightly. My ego is soothed a bit my pumpkin spice goodness. After a quick lunch, I hit the road again. About an hour of walking later, I begin to suspect something is wrong, so I check my map. Sure enough, I have missed a turn somewhere. How did I miss a turn while walking three and a half miles per hour? I have no idea. Now it appears I’m on my way to Netarts instead of Cape Mears. It’s all on the trail, so I guess it doesn’t matter. My plan now is to go to stay the night in Netarts, and then trek north to Cape Mears tomorrow morning. That will probably finish up this section hike of the OCT.

I finally reach the beach in Netarts. My feet and shins are killing me from all the road walking, so the sand feels amazing. After walking a short way past the town I see a trail that appears to lead to a bluff above the beach. I climb up and find a cool rope swing which I of course try out. Continuing up a bit more I discover a sandy bluff with remnants of a bonfire and a flat spot perfect for tenting. There are no signs warning against camping, and it’s miraculously out of view of the surrounding residences, so it’s fair game. While waiting for sunset, I research my exit strategy, and it looks like if I’m going to make it to Portland by tomorrow night, I can only go as far as Oceanside tomorrow. Cape Mears will have to wait until next time. The sun sets over my gorgeous, too good to be true, perch. I track entirety too much sand into my tent, and pass out.

“Now you think you’re going to drown. You can’t tell that you’re bigger than the sea that you’re sinking in. Maybe you don’t see it, but you’re quicker than the world can spin. You should know what you got ’cause you got it at your fingertips. You got it in you…” -Banners

Crabs and Beer

September 8th

OCT Day 5

Approximately 14 miles

Today was a bit atypical… All through the early morning I can hear the rain outside my tent, but I’m pretty snug. When I can’t snuggle myself back to sleep anymore I pull on my clammy clothes, still damp from last night’s shower wash. When I emerge from my tent I see that it’s just the trees dripping on me, and that the storm has passed (for now). I’m surprised to see that all the cyclists are still in bed, lazy buggers. I go to check on my battery pack which I left charging all night, only to discover that it wasn’t plugged in all the way. Crap. When I return from my morning, ummm cleanse…I see that my friend from last night has gotten up. We chat a bit more while we both break camp. I go it about it very slowly, as I need at least some charge on my battery pack. When I can’t justify hanging around any longer, I bid farewell to my Canadian cyclist, and head back to the beach.

The first four miles is not very exciting, just beach walking and wave watching. I eventually come to the mouth of Nehalem Bay, and it’s time to take my first ferry. I call Jetty Fishery, and they give me directions to come inland a bit, where they will pick me up. I slog through loose sand dunes for about fifteen minutes to get to the pick up spot, which is exhausting. The weight of my pack makes it even worse. By the time I make it there, I’m a sweaty mess. The nice young guy from the fishery is kind enough to let me take a picture before we cruise across the bay. My boat today was the Scallywag… too cute. Once we reach the dock, I tip him and head into the store to pay for my ferry. As I exit the little shop, and intrepid looking couple ask me a few questions about my hike before inviting me to join them for some crabbing. When life gives you unusual offers, do yourself a favor, and always say “yes.”

It turns out that my new friends are from Brooklyn, and are just out enjoying the west coast for a few days. They hiked the Camino last year, and are quite the adventurous pair. I spend some time with them on the docks learning how to sex crabs (you can only eat the males), and tossing back the ones that are too small. Once they have enough in their bucket they take the crabs up to get steamed and enjoy them for breakfast, which they invite me to join as well. I go back into the shop and buy us a round of beers (ok I got them beer and a cider for me) to thank them, and we dig in. You know what’s better than beer and crab for breakfast? Nothing, except perhaps beer and crab for breakfast with new friends who were strangers only an hour before. The crabs are steamed in bay water, and even without any butter or seasoning, they taste amazing. While we are sitting at the picnic table licking our fingers clean, the light drizzle turns into a downpour. I bid farewell to my crab pals, the first real trail angels I’ve encountered on the OCT, and bravely set off into the rain. Before too long I’m the only person I can see in either direction.

I’m over it… It’s raining so hard that it hurts my face. I’m soaked to the bone under my rain gear from my own sweat, and I’m freezing. If you know me, you know I’m hardly ever cold. This isn’t good. I’m hauling ass along the beach trying to get to Rockaway Beach so I can get indoors, dry off, and figure out what I’m doing with my life. I finally swim up to Offshore Grill. It’s a bit crowded, especially with my pack, so I opt to sit outside on the covered patio. Away from the beach, it isn’t nearly as windy or cold.

The nice girls working there assure me they can make space inside, but I’m actually pretty comfy on the patio. Despite my crab breakfast only a few hours before, I manage to eat a burger, a brownie, and down a big old delicious mocha. I almost decide on getting a room right there in Rockaway Beach, as my stuff still isn’t charged, and it’s supposed to keep raining all night. I make a deal with myself though, and promise myself I can have a cheap room, but only if I push on another six miles to the next town.

It’s still pouring while I leave Rockaway Beach, but before long, the sun comes out for a bit. It’s just a tease though, and in no time I’m very cold and very wet again. I do a grueling road walk into Girabaldi, and find my motel. Once I get checked in, I explode my pack all over in an attempt to dry everything out. I grab dinner at the joint next door, and wonder if I’m actually going to gain weight on this hike. Passing through town every day is a bit dangerous to my tummy and my wallet. Back in my room I fall asleep numerous times while trying to complete my blog. I’m sure I have more to say, but it’s not going to happen tonight…

“Adventure is allowing the unexpected to happen to you.” -Richard Aldington

Not the Only Gay in the Village

September 7th

OCT Day 4

Approximately 16 miles

I wake up a little later than normal today because it’s really, really dark in the forest, and I have no idea what time it is. Once I get moving though, I’m quick to break down camp, and easily find my way back to the trail. The morning is a lot more steep climbing than I anticipate, and when I finally start to descend I wonder if I need to pull out my headlamp. This forest is so overgrown, there are sections where it’s legitimately dark. The map I have is not very helpful in determining distance, or providing much direction. It’s sort of unhelpful (more anti-helpful), so its hard to determine when I’m getting into Manzanita later today. My plan is to have a super short day, and get a cheap motel or AirBnB, mostly because I desperately need to charge my devices, plus hygiene. Reality sets in halfway through the morning when I start running into copious amounts of day hikers. It starts as a run in with a couple collecting mushrooms, but soon I’m meeting people every few minutes. Day hikers mean one thing, it’s the weekend. I can’t blame them for being out though, these cliffside trails are phenomenal. I decide to start making calls as soon as I get to Oswald West Beach and see if I can reserve anything, but by the time I finally make it down there, I have no service. I have an early lunch, fill my water bottles, and use a real toilet (so fancy).

Pretty soon I’m back on trail and climbing once more. That’s another thing I don’t have for this trail, altitude profiles. I know if I’m not on the beach there’s going to be an incline, but I never really know how much. Well, Mt. Neahkahnie may not be the tallest mountain I’ve climbed (by a long shot), but it is a steep, steamy climb. I have to stop several times to catch my breath (and wonder why the hell I’m doing this to myself). As soon as I get to the top the weather changes drastically and I continue down the other side in a chilly cloud. I really feel like belting out some “Moana” or maybe some T. Swift (I’m ridiculous, I know), but all these day hikers make me self conscious. I finally have service again, but it seems all the motels and AirBnBs are completely full. I road walk for a mile and a half down Highway 101 towards Manzanita, which is dangerous(ish), and mostly forgettable (though there was a handsome cyclist who sped by).

I finally make it into Manzanita, and stop at the first restaurant I see, El Trio Loco. I’m more interested in charging my phone than eating, but my nachos and really freaking huge margarita don’t hurt. I still can’t find a place to stay here in town, but I finally see that there’s a camping area at Nehalem Bay State Park. It appears they have electricity AND hot water. Score! It’s a short fifteen minute walk away, so I grab some ice cream in town to enjoy on my way over. While I’m waiting in line at the registration booth, I notice the cyclist who passed me earlier, and also notice the small rainbow band he has tied around his seat.

There’s a great deal for bikers and hikers here, it’s only $8 for us to stay. There’s chargers in our camp, and the showers are free. I set up my tent, and then take my dirty clothes over to the shower. Hot water does wonders for my morale (and my odor). I rinse my dirty clothes as well, though they probably won’t dry by morning. It doesn’t really matter as its supposed to rain on and off for the next three days. I make my way back to the campsite and drape my wet clothes over a picnic table. I’m trying to get my nerve up to say hello to the cyclist, but before I do, the backpacker I shared my taxi with on day one strolls into camp. It’s nice to see a familiar face. Her and I catch up and share trail experiences a bit before she heads to bed. I decide it’s now or never to say hello to the cyclist, and I’m so glad I did. I know all you pervs think two gay dudes can’t meet without boinking, but we can. He’s a charming young guy from Winnipeg, who is biking from Vancouver to San Diego. Hearing his story is intriguing, and I’m so happy I didn’t waste the opportunity to meet him. With any luck I’ll be around by the the time he makes it to San Francisco, and I can show him around. I know it may not seem like such a big deal, there are definitely a plethora of sporty gays, but to meet someone out in (sort of) the middle of nowhere, doing something so extreme is really exciting. Most people in my community who I share my PCT stories with are like, “You did what?! On purpose? How did you moisturize? Etc…” It’s nice to meet someone else who is a pretty, pretty princess, but also a secret badass. None of are, or should be just one thing.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” -Anaïs Nin

Goonies in the Mist

September 6th

OCT Day 3

Approximately 17 miles

I awaken to the sound of rain… Crap. I fall back asleep and awaken to the sound of rain… Double crap. Oh well, I sort a few things out in my tent and then move everything over to the picnic table which has a small roof built over it. It takes longer than it should, but I eventually finish breakfast and get everything packed. It’s really only misting, so it’s not so bad out. I walk a short ways to an overlook, which William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) described as, “The grandest and most pleasing prospect my eyes ever surveyed.” Unfortunately I can’t see a thing, it’s a solid wall of fog, oh well… As I walk back towards the main path, I take a short detour to examine some sort of underground structure. I’m not sure if it was a bunker or what, but in the morning mist it’s creepy. It looks like what I picture when I envision the Barrens from “It.” It looks like somewhere that Pennywise would enjoy, and I keep looking back over my shoulder as I hurry on. Once I start descending I get slightly more clear views of the cliffs and sea below. After a short while I make it down to Indian Beach where scenes from “Point Break” and “Twilight” were filmed. There is a stream flowing down to the beach, and I stop to filter water. Between the light rain and sea spray I get drenched. I watch the surfers coming in for a bit while I wait for my water.

As I prepare to leave Indian Beach I see that the trail to Ecola Point is closed due to a mudslide. I have to walk up the main road to reach it. It’s quite an uphill slog, but it’s extremely verdant, and very beautiful. A park ranger pulls over to roll down her window to let me know a bear has been spotted on the road, and to be careful. Finally I reach Ecola Point, which I where portions of “Goonies” and “Kindergarten Cop” were filmed. It’s still very foggy, but it’s clear that the whole area is gorgeous. There’s something about the Oregon Coast, it’s romantic, mysterious, and just a little bit scary. It’s an enigmatic combination to be sure. I continue onto the Crescent Beach Trail, which claims to be for experienced hikers only, but the only other people I see are a young couple with their kid, who can’t possibly be older than six. I pass the turnoff to Crescent Beach and continue on towards Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is a charming little seaside town. It’s a little less gaudy than Seaside, but still very touristy. I stop into the “Chocolate Cafe” for coffee and a snack. I have a French toast and a Mayan Mocha, which is a dark chocolate mocha with chili infused chocolate. Yum! Before turning back onto the beach I use the public restroom, and when I come out there’s an adorable, little, brown bunny. I try to make friends, but she wants nothing to do with me. Snob, she probably has fleas anyway.

I walk along the beach for a couple hours, but it’s still foggy and relatively cool. There are some awesome rock formations off the coast to keep things interesting. I listen to the intro music from “Goonies,” and get pumped. This is followed up by some excellent Cyndi Lauper jams from the film as well. (Mom, just watch the damn movie, it’s fun!) I have to hurry a bit to make it past Hug Point before the rising tide makes it impossible. Looks like the tide booklet I grabbed is helpful after all. I make it past with a little time to spare, and decide to have a late lunch on the beach. Despite the misty weather, there are still plenty of people (and adorable dogs) on the beach. After I stuff my face, I filter some more water from a stream splashing down the rocks, and head off once more.

The next stretch of beach has gorgeous homes lining it, which is massively inconvenient, as I have to go to the bathroom really, really bad. I keep things clenched for the next mile or two until the path finally leads me away from the beach and all of those picture windows. I cross under Highway 101, and start climbing into Oswald State Park. Almost immediately I come to a very bouncy suspension bridge, which is both fun and sketchy. The humidity on this part of the trail is killing me, but it sure is beautiful. It looks like a fantasy forest, like something straight out of “Lord of the Rings.” One of the nice forests, not the evil ones. At the top of the hill I meet my first backpacker since the lady I shared my taxi with. He goes by Wallstreet, and previously hiked the AT. He says he needs to lose some weight, and he might as well look at something beautiful while he does it. I just introduce myself as Dustin. Runner 5 was my PCT trail name, but I’m not exactly sure who I am these days.

I cross back over Highway 101 once more. The sun, or what I can see of it through the fog and trees, is getting low. I pick up my pace, and carefully avoid stepping on the numerous newts on the trail. As twilight sets in, my fantasy forest starts looking a bit more sinister, but I need to find a spot to camp nonetheless. There’s no camping spots i can spot, so I’ll have to stealth camp away from the trail. I hate doing this, and I’m always afraid I’ll lose the trail. Once I find a relatively flat spot (I’m still going to be leaning downhill all night) I set up my tent, and point my trekking poles towards the path, so I can find it again in the morning. I’m overheated, so I take my soaked shirt off and complete my camp chores in my full dad bod glory. It’s just as well that I’m not visible from the trail, as I’d blind anyone who saw my pasty self. Miraculously, there seem to be no mosquitoes here, which is mind boggling to me after my last hiking experience in Oregon. Just as I finally start getting relaxed and comfortable, I remember that this is Sasquatch territory, and creep myself out again big time. Why do I do this to myself?

“Isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it.” -Richard Dawkins

Stevie Nicks, Rock Lobster, and the Haunted Trio

September 5th

OCT Day 2

Approximately 20 miles

This morning I awake with the sunrise, and feel extremely well rested. This doesn’t prevent me from wanting to get out of bed, as it is quite chilly. By the time I eat breakfast and finish my morning chores, it’s gotten foggy out. I hike back through the dense dune grass I mentioned yesterday, which it literally up to my neck at times, and emerge soaking wet onto the beach. I’m cold for all of five minutes, but once I start moving I warm up quickly. It’s low tide this morning, which makes a world of difference to my pace and comfort. I’m not having to constantly watch and run from the surf, and the sand is wet and well packed. On this section of the beach, motor vehicles are allowed, and every once in awhile, a huge truck will roll in from the fog. They look mysterious and a little dangerous, like something out of Mad Max. I don’t seem too sunburnt today, except for the tops of my hands, which I’ll deal with later. I set an alarm to remind myself to put on sunscreen somewhere around mid morning.

After a couple hours I arrive in the little town of Gearheart, which has beautiful, sun bleached, wooden homes with white or green trim. Nasturtiums and hydrangeas are growing everywhere. It all looks like something on a post card from a lovely summer vacation. I take a small detour and head into the “Sweet Shop,” which is a bakery, cafe, and ice cream shop. I get myself an iced coffee and a marionberry scone. It’s delicious, and I finish it entirely too quickly. I had back towards the trail (which is just a road walk through town and along highway 101 at this point). I stop at a tennis court to fill my water bottles, and then continue on my way. The fog has burned off, and it’s now quite warm. I’m also still hungry, so I decide another snack may be in order. As I walk into Seaside, I see a somewhat dodgy looking restaurant called “Mighty Thai.” It claims to be a pizza and seafood restaurant, which has me intrigued. I order some green curry and a pineapple cider which really hits the spot. I also guzzle down several glasses of water while my phone charges. The curry is actually delicious, and I make sure to compliment the owner, who is a little Thai lady. We chat for a little bit about my time living in Thailand, and how green curry there is so hot that I tear up when I eat it. All the while there’s a tipsy dude playing some sort of slot machine in the parlor who keeps shouting, “Rock Lobster! F@ck yeah!” I later learn that Rock Lobster is the name of the slot game, but for a bit I’m really confused. I remember to grab some plastic wear before I head out, though it’s a poor replacement for my titanium spork.

Once I’m part way through Seaside, the trail takes me back towards the beach. On the other side of the street is a woman keeping pace with me. She appears to be around sixty, and high AF. She has pig tails, and is full on dancing down the street like Stevie Nicks singing, “Lalalala whew!” It seems Seaside has its fair share of eccentrics. I walk a little faster and leave black magic granny behind. As I near the beach, the houses start looking nicer, and I see one with oars over the garage. There’s a sign underneath which reads, “When winds fail you, take the oars.” Way back on the PCT I talked about the meaning of the five winds (the name of this blog), and this is pretty much the perfect description of the fifth wind. It’s not going to happen until you make it happen.

Once I reach the beach, there’s an area with a boardwalk sort of vibe. There’s plenty of restaurants, arcades, hotels, and all sorts of boutique shops. I stop inside an Ace Hardware for some gloves to cover my poor scorched hands. I also stop into a little boutique with a rainbow flag outside (because I’m that kind of gay), and buy a dozen honey sticks, yum! After a short walk on the beach, I get back on the road and start climbing above the beach. Finally, at the end of the road, an actual wooded trail begins. This is more like it! Before I start climbing I put some duct tape over a hotspot on the sole of my foot. I don’t need that turning into a blister and complicating my life. The climb is humid and steep, but it’s mossy, green, and covered with ferns. As I climb, I occasionally catch glimpses of the Pacific below me. Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea once walked this part of the trail.

Even though this section of trail is gorgeous, I’m starting to flag. I know there’s a hiker camp around here somewhere though, so I push on. Eventually, after the trail finally starts descending, I come across three creepy, wooden cabins, which look like something out of a horror movie. Yep, this is where I’m spending the night, but definitely not in one of those cursed looking things. As I walk past one of them, a squirrel darts out the entryway and scurries across the side of the cabin, nearly scaring the poop out of me. I stand there panting in a “clutch my pearls” stance for almost a full minute before I calm down, shout at the offending squirrel, and move a little ways away to set up my tent.

This campsite has a nice picnic table where a cook my trasherole (trash casserole), it tastes salty and divine. A couple of day hikers from Chicago walk by the campsite headed for an outlook nearby, we chat for a few minutes, but otherwise I’m the only one here. I haven’t seen another actual backpacker all day. Once inside my tent I can hear the waves crashing far below me. While I’m writing, I notice lightning, and hear thunder as well. I thought the sky was clear. Is that rain? Crap! I jump out of my tent wearing only undies, a beanie, and headlamp. I derp around a bit trying to get my rain fly on. I finally succeed, and retreat back into my tent shivering. Let’s hope it’s just sprinkling. Let’s also hope I don’t get murdered by a chainsaw enthusiast hiding in those creepy cabins. Sweet dreams…

“When the wind fails you, take the oars.” -Unknown

New Horizons and Much Exposition

September 4th

OCT Day 1

Approximately 9 miles

My alarm goes off at 3:30AM. Great I’ve had almost four hours of sleep and I’m good to go! I’m headed up to Oregon to hike the Oregon Coast Trail for a few days! Excitement is doing a phenomenal job of perking me up this morning as I get ready. I live on a sailboat these days, and my backpack is exploded all over. I’m extra careful (but not careful enough) to make sure everything makes it back into the pack. The pack is ridiculously overfilled, almost to the point of comedy. I have to carry more clothes than I want because of how conservatively I have to dress while flying standby. They are annoying extra pounds, but if they save me airfare, I guess they are worth it. Why in the world am I carrying so much food? This trail passes through coastal towns all the time. Did I learn nothing from the PCT? I sacrifice a few pounds of Kind bars and trail mix until things are a bit more manageable. Looking at my watch I have an “Oh crap look at the time!” moment, and order my Uber.

My first major hurdle of the day is flying standby to Portland, which is normally a very full flight. I luck out this morning though and get a whole exit row to myself. Once in Portland I Uber once more down to Union Station, which is full of the usual suspects you find at most train/bus stations. I buy a snack in the station shop, so I don’t get harassed by security when I try to use the “customers only” restroom. Around 9:20 I jump on the bus, and immediately pass out for about an hour. When I wake back up I watch green Oregon forests and little coastal towns roll by for another hour and a half. Finally we pull into Astoria, which is absolutely picturesque, and I wish I was staying for longer. I do a little research and discover that there doesn’t seem to be a camping shop in town, which sucks as I need fuel and sunscreen. It turns out there’s a Big 5 one town over, which is on the way anyhow. I call “Mom’s Taxi Co.” and she quotes me about $45 to get to the Southern Jetty of the Columbia River, which is where my trek starts. It’s a bit steep, but also about what I expected. I order a personal pizza (I’m not insane with hiker hunger just yet) at the joint next door while I wait for her to pick me up. She calls back and asks if I mind another rider heading to the same spot. If it’s only going to cost half as much I certainly don’t mind. The other passenger is a nice middle aged lady who is also headed out to start the trail.

Around 1:30PM, once we finally arrive at the trailhead, we take pictures of each other, and she’s off. I need to change into my actual hiking clothes, which are exactly what I wore on the PCT. Same shirt, same hat, same socks, same undies, and same short shorts. (The gear I bough last time was excellent quality, and I’m happy to still be using it.) The shorts are so short, in fact, that my undies stick out from beneath them. I look like a hobo again, and it feels pretty good. Once I’m properly attired, I gobble up my pizza, slather on some sunscreen, and hit the trail. The first fifteen minutes are probably the most exciting part of the trail today. The first song that plays on shuffle is “A Whole New World,” which seems promising. Before long I’m just hiking along the beach (which I’ll do for the first seventeen or so miles). It’s pretty, but not super exciting. I’m definitely looking forward to walking on cliffs above the beach and trails near the beach more than walking on the beach itself. I have a pretty good time running from the surf, and poking dead crabs and jellyfish with my trekking poles. I have not found a decent animal sidekick yet.

After four miles or so, I pass a public restroom, so I don’t even have to poop on trail today, which is something I know you were all looking forward to hearing about. Soon I’m back on the beach, and my legs are really starting to feel it. Walking on sand is hard! Dry sand is difficult, wet sand is difficult, and it’s getting EVERYWHERE. After awhile I take my shoes and socks off and just walk barefoot through the surf. It’s fun, but also pretty draining. Around mile nine I start hunting for a place to crash. It’s been a long day on very little sleep. I struggle over some sand dunes and wade through beach grass up to my neck until I finally find a corpse of trees to set my tent up in.

While I start preparing dinner I realize that I’ve somehow forgotten my spork, and have nothing to eat with. Sigh… I’ll pick up something in Gearhart tomorrow. I make a pepper jack and pepperoni wrap instead of my normal hot dinner, and get myself ready for bed. While writing in my tent I realize that I did a really half assed job of rubbing on my sunscreen, (especially on the top of my hands) and will no doubt regret it tomorrow. Tonight I’m too tired to care. Let’s see what I can accomplish tomorrow after a decent night of sleep.

“A whole new world, with new horizons to pursue. I’ll chase them anywhere, there’s time to spare. Let me share this whole new world with you…” -Aladdin