Oregon Coast Trail: Journal Anthology

September 29, 2019

“Done is better than perfect”

Read my Oregon Coast Trail anthology:
Oregon Coast Trail Beach Walking Discovery

Since John and I completed the Oregon Coast Trail and drove south through  California to Borrego Springs and our winter home at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, I’ve been compiling the blogposts that I wrote during our journey. I’ve edited the glaring errors caused by “autocorrect” and attempted to arrange the content and pictures in a book draft form.

It’s not perfect and I wanted to send it to you in case you’d like to read it as an anthology of my journal of the walk.   I’m willing to let this go for now because today I start my sixth season as Park Interpretive Specialist at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!  There will be plenty of projects to work on there!

Here’s the link for Oregon Coast Trail Beach Walking Discovery! As always, I would love to hear your responses! So, hit reply when you’re finished reading and comment or send me a quick email at regina@forgivenesswalks.com or even better a long email that shares what’s going on with you on your journey!  I walk in service!


In joy,


P.S. I you’re the proof reading and editing type, let me know! I can share an editable copy with you!


Oregon Coast Trail: Finale

September 13, 20196:45 p.m. Finished! We crossed the Oregon-California state line on the beach at Crissey Field State Park. There was no marker. John looked at Google Maps. We situated ourselves so the little blue dot hovered over the line. Done!

This log straddles the state line!

To get here we returned to the bus stop across the street from the Fred Meyer store in Brookings. That’s the furthest south we had been until today. That’s where we had caught the bus a few days ago on our van retrieval mission.From that point, John maneuvered around to the beach spots he had found either in Bonnie’s book or by studying Google Maps. The “official” trail had us walking the road pretty much all the way to Crissey Field State Park, a few miles south. We turned down side streets a few times and walked in little parks and beaches:* Chetco Point Park* McVay Point*Crissey Field State Park

At Crissey Field, we walked north from the Visitor Center, which was closed, across a wide strip of driftwood, then out to the beach. We walked north for a hundred yards or so, then turned south for the final quarter mile of the Oregon Coast Trail.

As close as it gets to a finish marker!

We were both captivated by the colorful, smooth pebbles, pocketing a few of our favorites as souvenirs.

So many colors!

We snapped some photos, then turned east into the dune, taking the trail back to the park road and to our car. Done!

Celebrating our journey’s completion

That’s the Outer Journey complete. I’ll be discovering and delving into my Inner Journey for some time and let you know what I find out! To me, as you know, that’s the important stuff!Thanks again for reading along! Stay tuned!

Oregon Coast Trail: Port Orford

September 13, 2019

There are many aspects of this particular journey that are different than my other long walks – the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, and others.

One of those is what piques my interest today. Generally, I have walked each trail once, in a single direction. By contrast, we have now actually traveled the length of the Oregon Coast trail three times! We’re staying in the same Sea Crest Motel in Port Orford where I made my last post a week ago! Let me explain with a brief recounting of our week’s itinerary.

On September 7, we walked out of this motel just at 11:00 a.m. and made a second stop at the Food Co-op where we bought delectables for the next few days – dried mangos and pears especially! We walked another half mile to Ray’s Food Place to wait for the Coastal Express bus for an hour ride south to Gold Beach, arriving at another Ray’s in Gold Beach a little after 2 p.m.

It was just a short walk down 5th Place and past the local airstrip to the beach. Soon, we caught sight of Cape Sebastian where we would leave the beach. I made sure to let my family, and grandson Sebastian, know we’d be hiking there! Clouds hovered over its distant peak, suggesting a lurking dragon, a suitable intrigue for a three-year-old.

There’s a dragon up there for sure!

We reached the base of Cape Sebastian in under three hours, after walking Gold Beach, suitably named for its treasures of tiny agates mixed in with the array of smoothed pebbles. Finding the post marking the trail up the cape presented another treasure hunt. I had pulled out my binoculars to find it almost hidden in the grass.

A beautiful, well-graded trail wound up Cape Sebastian through ancient spruce trees dripping with Spanish moss. Whimsical, handmade signs pointed our way.

Whimsical signs point the way

Just on cue at 1.7 miles we found the “good spot for a bivouac” noted in Bonnie Henderson’s Day Hiking Oregon Coast. It was only 6 p.m. but we didn’t think we’d find a better campsite, so we stopped! The site also included a view with a bench. Watching the setting sun reflecting on the ocean, I reveled in sketching and painting my view of Cape Sebastian. The ground, softened by a spruce needle cushion provided a luxurious resting spot for the night.

Cape Sebastian

Sunday, September 8th offered walks through three habitats. First, we completed the 5-mile traverse of Cape Sebastian, through the majestic spruce-hemlock forest, along the cliffs of convoluted rocks at the base of the cape, then down an eroded ramp, scaled with a rope, to regain the beach. All my senses were nourished, from the carpeted texture of the path, the scents of spruce, the vibrant colors of shrubs, mushrooms, and even the beautiful and threatening poison oak, to the sonorous quiet with muffled surf in the background.

Poison Oak flashes its red color

Next, we did some roadwalking to cross the wide Pistol River on a bridge, then re-entered the forest for our third habitat of the day. A beautiful and thoughtfully preserved stretch of coast called the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor welcomed us hikers with a good 16 miles of trail that followed the ins and outs of the coastline, up and down from road to beach and from road to bluff’s edge.

One spectacular section of the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor was Indian Sands, a dune atop the bluff

We knew we would be camping along the trail that night, even though no official camping is available. We had started looking for a flat spot. The steep, thickly vegetated forest offered none.

Just before dusk, we reached a feature called “Secret Beach”. We had read that it might be a place to camp. Two things negated that for us. First, there was the tide. I didn’t think I would sleep well on the narrow beach listening to the surf, worrying that it would inundate my tent! Secondly, we realized this beach was not secret at all! There was a well-used trail leading away to the road! The first people we had met on the trail all day were here! It was a wedding party taking pictures! The bride was deftly clambering up the bank, gathering folds of her white dress around her arm.

We hiked on, back up the bluff. Our willingness to move on was rewarded with the discovery of a cleared viewpoint, just big enough for our tiny tent, within twenty minutes south. We had a scenic view directly above Secret Beach that was safely distant from the surf. We slept well, even as the first drops of rain started falling during the night.

Just enough clearing for our tiny tent!

On Monday, September 9th we walked through the forest of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor during our first full day of rain. This would also be our last day of trail walking! In short, it was a fulfilling day of beauty, with rain adding a particular touch of refreshment.

Late in the afternoon, we left the forest, learning on a plaque that Samuel Boardman was the founder of the Oregon State Parks system. What a fitting honor that this wondrous corridor had been dedicated to him on the eve of his retirement from the Parks!

A short road walk led us to Brookings, connecting to a welcome bike path for our last mile to our day’s end at Harris Beach State Park. We easily found the registration kiosk where we paid to stay at the Hiker-Biker site, grateful that the Oregon State Parks provide special sites for campers without cars.

In the morning on September 10th, John made a few calls to locate a nearby car rental place. We had just one more leg to walk to reach the California state line, the official southern terminus of the Oregon Coast Trail. What he came up with was the plan to continue walking 2 miles south into downtown Brookings, catch the northbound bus 100 miles to Coos Bay, rent a car there, drive north to Fort Stevens to retrieve the “Old Gold Van”, drive back to Coos Bay to return the rental car, then drive back south to walk that last bit of the trail. Got it?

Well, that’s what we did! By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, we had taken our hundred-mile bus ride, watching ten days’ walk melt before our eyes and rented a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica van. By 8 p.m. we had retraced another two weeks’ walk and checked into the same campsite where we had slept on our very first night at Fort Stevens, completing two traverses of the trail in 28 days – and 7 hours!

Next morning, on September 11, with somber reverence for the day, we drove around the corner to the protected lot where the Old Gold Van had been parked for a month. We knew we’d have to jump start the battery. Opening the hood revealed that a month had given a couple of mice ample time to get comfortable there. They wouldn’t leave!

In an hour, we were headed south, driving separate vans, John in the mouse van. The next two days were focused on our third traverse of the Oregon Coast Trail! This time, we stopped at certain spots we had missed on foot:
*The Tillamook Creamery
*Back road to Netarts, Sand Lake, and Pacific Beach
*The hike on the Harts Cove Trail on Cascade Head
*Elk Viewing Area in Reedsport
*Seven Devils Beach
*Bullards Beach and the Coquille River Lighthouse

Midway through the day, just before the side trip to Seven Devils Beach, we stopped in Coos Bay to shop for food, fulfill John’s official interview call for his seasonal job at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and return the rental car. No mouse sightings had occurred. Maybe John’s laying of dryer sheets throughout the van had driven them out. Maybe they were now moved into Wax Myrtle Campground where we had stayed the night before.

What impressed me with this part of the journey was how quickly we had covered the trail by car, yet how shallowly we had experienced the true nature of the coast this way! The road rarely gave us views of the beach where we had so deeply connected to the surf, the sand, the rocks, the sky during our walk. By car, each of the stores, trailheads, and road stretches that had been such vital landmarks for us while walking, were insignificant blips along the road!

After a short visit to the Coquille River lighthouse, which we had glimpsed from Bandon Beach on Day 12 of our walk, we hopped into the Old Gold Van together and drove to Port Orford, destined for a second stay at Sea Crest Motel and watching the Democratic Debate. Twelve days of walking evaporated in forty minutes of driving, my mind quickly reviewing the rich details we had relished by walking!

Which brings me to the present day of September 13, a lucky Friday for me, being one of those people lucky to have the 13th as a birthday. We were lucky to get to stay in a hotel with an ocean view and to have that be one night before the full moon! At 4 in the morning today I watched the moonlight shining on the ocean. At 6 a.m. we watched the full orange moon set into the western ocean horizon. Time rolls continuously, like the surf, but I’ll end this post here! Stay tuned for our next, and final episode of our Oregon Coast Trail saga – touching the California State Line at Crissey Field State Recreation Site.

Thanks for reading!

Oregon Coast Trail: River Crossings

September 4-6, 2019

Three days, in which we walked into the night toward a lighthouse, stopped briefly at a County Park, camped near a river to cross at midnight, stopped briefly at a State Park, walked another six miles on beautiful beach and finally rested at a hotel in Port Orford.

I’ll bundle these three days because they flowed together in an unusual -and exhausting- stretch of walking outside my circadian rhythm. There were rivers to cross at low tide which didn’t happen at convenient times. Ironically, this was the longest stretch of undeveloped beach along the Oregon Coast. We saw just a handful of other hikers and uncountable and varied scenes of coastal beauty on the beach for three days!

On the 4th, we awoke at Sunset Bay State Park to the calls of ravens. Although the camphost had said there were crows, the guttural croaks, in contrast to the crow’s high-pitched and definite “caw”, tells me they were ravens. This explains why they might pilfer campers’ food from their tables, as the camphost had warned the night before. Ravens are relentless scavengers of convenience! Our food, however, was safely untouched by raven beak.

We were out by 8 a.m. headed to a path through the forest out of the park. It climbed steeply to a ridge because we were leaving the beach -headed north! We had to get back to Charleston to position ourselves for our next southbound beach walk. From Charleston, we took our third ride with Yellow Cab back to the North Bend Safeway. That’s the stop for the Curry County Transit Coastal Express, which whizzed us 27 miles down US 101, over a highway bridge with no space for pedestrians, to the Ray’s Food Place in Bandon. We shopped, first for something to eat immediately, then for food tforo pack out for the next two days. I wanted soup to eat, but they didn’t serve it in their hot bar. John asked the deli clerk about soup. She kindly offered to heat up whatever packaged soup we bought from the store! We bought a box of sweet potato curry, a deli sandwich, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs for a warming meal in their snack area. I sought out the manager to thank his staff for that personalized service!

From Ray’s we walked through historic Bandon for a mile or so, then clambered over some big rocks to the beach. Our goal was to cross the mouth of the New River at low tide, which was at 11:30 p.m. Huge rock stacks loomed near the beach and we wove our way around and between them over low dunes swept by wind and sand. The fine brown sand we had grown accustomed to walking on had turned to coarse, black sand that gave way with each step.

Coarse black sand on Bandon Beach











We kept walking. Into sunset, past sunset, into darkness. Without our headlamps on, the waxing crescent moon was the only light – besides the Cape Blanco lighthouse, that is. It flashed dimly, some 20 miles away. Soon, even the moonlight was hidden behind clouds, leaving the whitecapped surf as the only contrast with the dark beach. I kept my sluggish pace going with determination to reach that river crossing at its unknown distance. To trick my mind to keep going, I paced myself to walk all the way to that lighthouse before stopping. That worked and I didn’t get tired, just kept walking, listening to the surf and focusing on doing deep, rhythmic breathing.

At 9 p.m. we reached a flow of water towards the ocean! “This must be the mouth of the New River!” John said. It’s tricky because this river, only about a century old, flows north, parallel to the surf and 20-50 yards in. Sometimes, new mouths form. Even a few hours before low tide, it was just knee deep and easy to cross. We kept walking. I had thought we would camp soon after this crossing, but John kept going. And going. He said there was a hiker camp, but didn’t know it’s distance.

The bank was steep, the sand soft, the walking cumbersome, the darkness grim. We walked near the surf because the sand was the most firm there. The problem was that waves would sneak up. I had put my shoes back on for easier walking, although I had given in to walking in the water. One wave lept up and soaked my shorts though, and I cursed, exasperated with this interminably long night walk. One thing I’ve confirmed about myself on this trip is that I rely on regular meals and sleep. Although I think I’m good at tolerating whatever happens, my impatience bursts out when that last straw gets piled on. That soaking was my last straw this time. “Let’s stop here and camp!” John relented. We stomped up the beach through deep sand. We stomped past the line of markers for the protected plover nesting zone and we set up the tent in the dune sand well away from the tide line. It was only 10 p.m. but I was glad to end that night walking.

Next morning, September 5th, we resumed our beach walk. In just an hour we saw a post on the dune that clearly said, INFORMATION in vertical letters. We climbed up the shifty sand and read it. “It’s the BLM hiker camp!” John said. “We would have missed this last night! I’ll mark it on my map.”

About 1 p.m. we reached the next landmark at Flores Lake, a beautiful, marshy area with a county park and campground. “What if we stay here and get to the Sixes River for tomorrow’s low tide instead of the one at midnight tonight?” I suggested, appealing to my sleepiness and attraction to this location. It could provide soothing subjects for drawing and painting. I was thrilled with the sight of a marsh hawk gliding over the lake edge.

“That won’t work because of the bus from Port Orford, letting us skip the longest road walk section. It only runs Monday though Saturday.” John gave me the news. We ate the soup we had skipped last night and refilled our water bottles, discovering that John had lost his liter bottle during the night walk. Inconvenient, but not dire. We still had five liters capacity. We walked back out to the beach. Resigned, I particularly noticed how unpleasant it was slogging though the loose sand of the approach road, keeping comments to myself.

The afternoon provided another several hours of determined beach walking, broken by an hour on a woodland trail over Blacklock Point, a jaggedy black headland jutting out into the ocean, winged by golden cliffs of sediment, topped with windblown spruce pointing south. I savored the firmness of the soil beneath my feet and reminded myself to enjoy the beauty, which I could not deny.

Golden Sandstone Cliffs

Soon, we were back out on the beach, this time, however, touring a whimsical museum of driftwood sculptures and collectibles. Every size, shape, and wooden caricature, from huge roots and trunks to tiny sticks and tokens, littered the sand and grass ledge for the rest of our evening walk!

Huge Root Sculpture

Tiny wooden tokens

What a delight for my imagination! I could spend days of drawing time studying the patterns and textures of these wooden forms! We had another destination, however – Sixes River, known to be easily crossed on a sandbar or formidable and requiring a retreat back to the road. We checked it out about 6 p.m. and found that the 8ft high tide made the crossing of the formidable variety. We camped nearby and set an alarm for 11:45 p.m.

Beach camp

In the dark, we revisited the crossing by headlamp and found it pretty easy! We quickly forded the twenty-foot wide outflowing stream that was just knee deep. Mission accomplished. John wasn’t quite sure how far it was to the trail up to Cape Blanco State Park. We walked. Another night walk of unknown length. Thirty minutes in, I said that I didn’t really want to walk without a clear time and destination. John snapped back, “OK! We’ll stop here!” I explained that I was willing to walk for another fifteen minutes, but John stubbornly stopped.

It was easy setting up the tent again in the sand because I had packed the long sticks I had used for stakes at our first sand camp that night. They worked better in the deep sand than our short metal ones.

At first light the next morning, September 6th, we packed up again, this time to continue south on the beach toward that lighthouse on Cape Blanco, now just short of a mile away! In the morning light, it was easy to find the trail up the cape to the lighthouse road, then another 3/4 mile to the Cape Blanco State Park campground.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse at dawn

I was so grateful John had not insisted on walking that whole stretch in the night! From the Sixes River crossing to the campground was 2 1/2 miles!

Here was another stop we could make, but we didn’t stop! There was that bus to catch in Port Orford tomorrow and it was still about eight miles away! We ate our oatmeal, took lukewarm showers, packed up and walked out of the park. The beach between Cape Blanco and Port Orford really was beautiful, but I was tired! I did my best to pay attention to the wind carved cliffs, the blue water, and the rainbow colors of smooth stones which now graced the beach.

Now there were pebbles of many colors!

Mostly, I kept walking, silently forging my way through the soft sand. Walking barefoot for awhile helped refresh me somewhat.

John had called and made a reservation for the Sea Crest Motel, so at least we had a destination. We got into Port Orford at about 12:30 and made our way from the beach access into town, headed for Ray’s Food Place. On our way, though, we walked past a place called Golden Harvest Herban Farm. “Let’s see what they have.” They had a fine selection of prepared food, a salad bar, and ice cream. We feasted on the best meat loaf ever, a piece of quiche, a cup of barley soup, and a fantastic salad, topped off with carrot cake and ice cream. The unique flavors were ones I would not have picked out in the grocery store and made me feel alive and special!

A delicious stop, right on our way!

I made a second purchase to carry out and eat in the hotel: cauliflower curry soup and second helpings of meatloaf, quiche, and salad. We didn’t need to go to Ray’s today!

We made two more stops conveniently located between Golden Harvest and Sea Crest Hotel: the Post Office and the Food Co-op. At the Post Office we talked with the clerk about how inconvenient it had been that our maildrop package we had sent to General Delivery had been returned to California. The clerk in Astoria had told us the P.O. holds packages for 30 days. Ours was held for only 15. After several minutes’ discussion, he agreed that we had not been served as expected, assured us that he would ameliorate this inconsistency in what clerks are telling customers and the newer 15-day hold policiy. He refunded the postage for that package. That felt good!

At the Co-op, we did some recognizance on what we could buy during tomorrow’s resupply. We got plenty of ideas! We also got a sampling of some irresistible radish kim-chi from the Korean woman who supplies it at the Co-op. We bought a pint of it, and even gave her the canning jar back after dumping the kim-chi into an empty bag from our food bag.

Now, we were ready for that hotel room! We had a room complete with a tub, a refrigerator, a microwave, and an ocean view! Perfect for nineteen whole hours of rest!

I was ready for it!

Oregon Coast Trail: Double Day

September 3, 2019

We got up at 4 a.m. anticipating a grueling 16-mile beachwalk through ATV land. We cooked our oatmeal and stored it in our Ziploc bowl to eat later. We made tea and coffee. That put us two liters of water ahead so our combined 6 liters could keep us safely hydrated.

We were ready at 5 a.m. We decided to take the road around rather than the short climb over the dunes to get to the beach access. On the road in the dark, patches of light danced in a directional rhythm on the treetops. The lighthouse! It’s crystal lenses sparkled. Its radial rays of light beamed out in a moving pattern. No International Dark Sky coherence here!

Umpqua Lighthouse 5 a.m.

90 minutes’ road walk on the secondary road leading to the ATV Staging Area took us to the beach access. We had encountered no vehicles! We commended ourselves for our early traverse!

At the parking area there was a water spicket. We drank and filled a liter of water, giving us another bonus, with six liters between us for the day (in the desert, I would carry at least a gallon per day, but thought the cooler temps here would minimize dehydration).

The next five and a half hours were delightfully filled with southbound beach walking with an outgoing tide. Patchy clouds promised a colorful sunrise, the first hint being a thin band of pink on the western horizon.

Western Sky Color at Sunrise

To our surprise, though, no color show appeared. The sky simply got light and gray. It wasn’t until the sun was a good hand’s distance above the dunes that we noticed its white disk behind thinning clouds.

Sun disk in the gray sky

Through the morning, the sky show continued as portions cleared to blue then clouded up again.

Under our feet, the path of interesting beach trinkets provided a continuous guessing game of shapes – shells and sand dollar pieces, ribbons of seaweed, ropes of kelp. And our first starfish!











We were on the closed stretch of the beach for a while, meeting only gulls and flocks of tiny sandpipers that moved in unison, a few osprey in flight.

Half way through we crossed Ten-Mile Creek, actually a lot sooner than we had thought we would be there! We had to wade across in the swift knee-deep water. I took my shoes off, then kept them off for walking in the surf which was now in incoming tide.

This is the section where the ATVs drove. However, to our enjoyment, less than ten shared our beach walk! Their tracks were getting smoothed out by the tide.

Tracks on the beach

At 12:30, John spied the sign for Access 115, Horsfall, where we left the beach! We had walked our supposed 16 miles in 7 hours! The wooden boardwalk with an observation deck at the crest of the dune made a perfect lunch spot to eat our hummus, stuffed into one of the “bread bowls” we had purchased in Winchester Bay the day before. Next stop was our camp for the night – Bluebill Campground, just down the road!

Ahh. But John had been hatching another itinerary! He had another adventure to add to our day! He realized that with half the daylight left, we could walk a beautiful stretch of coast separate from the rest – Cape Arago (air’-uh-go, an Oregonian instructed. “If you say air-ah’-go, we can tell you’re not from here!”)
To get to this three-mile coastal cliff walk, we called Yellow Cab for a 15-minute ride into North Bend, one of the few large coastal cities. We had Vicki drop us off at Safeway to resupply our vegetables. We requested a “timed pickup” for 4:15 to continue our shuttle. Our new driver took us all the way beyond Charleston to the observation area at Cape Arago, about a 30-minute ride (only $15!). Our driver was glad she had taken our ride because she had never been to the point on Cape Arago before. “I believe it’s time for me to be off-duty now. I’m going to stay here for a bit!” She proclaimed.

The first thing we noticed there was the barking of sea lions! A hundred, maybe, lolling on the sharp rocks off shore. We wondered if they were Stellar or California Sea Lions, not figuring that out from the interpretive sign at the overlook.

Then, we walked back up to the point and were mesmerized by whale spouts for another half hour!

Cape Arago Whale Watching

We still had the day’s second mission to accomplish – walk the trail down the Cape to Sunset Bay State Park! The trail sign said 2 1/4 mile, but it seemed farther and more complicated as we followed the edge of the bluff through the woods. Along the way we passed through Shore Acres State Park, the former estate of an early 20th century businessman who had started the local logging companies. He had purchased 1600 acres along the coast and built a beautiful house and botanical garden. Sadly, his wife died young and the house burned down just a few months later. He remarried, built another house, had financial troubles in the Great Depression and moved away. The place was used as officers’ quarters during WWII, then eventually given to the State Parks. That second house is gone as well, but the Parks have rebuilt the gardens complete with pools and bridges.

The walk, though scenic with views over the jagged rocks and wildly crashing surf, rising like geysers above the craggy rocks, took us over two hours, including our final steep descent to the beach.

Crashing Surf

After going down one more path leading to an overlook instead of forward along the coast, John found a narrow trail that wound precipitously down the cliff and behind the cottages. We guessed where the Park entrance might be, found it, then entered the campground just before dark.

The Hiker-Biker Site was located towards the middle of the campground and already occupied by three other tents – bicyclists. There was still room for us, though, and we set up on the fine gravel surface. We had two challenges to address – finding an additional charging station since the two receptacles offered (what were they thinking to provide 2 outlets for four sites?!!) were taken, and to find someone with a can opener for our can of authentic Winchester Bay Albacore tuna.

Both puzzles were solved by a quick visit to the Camp Hosts, just at the next campsite! Cam offered me a spot on his electric box to plug in my wall charger. I’d get one battery charged anyway.

The tuna was excellent, together with rice noodles and broccoli. I decided to borrow one of the outlets from the campers who had their battery pack plugged in, and put theirs back when we went to bed. I need not have been so micro-managing because they came over soon and took their charger out! The woman said, “Hi! I think we saw you in Safeway!” Oh right! I remembered her too. In the Safeway in North Bend I kept meeting the same woman several times in different aisles. Funny, she remembered me!

I made a second trip over to the Camp Host’s to ask if there were food storage boxes. “No.” he replied. “The only thing that might bother your food would be crows in the morning.” We trusted his wildlife acumen and put our food bags in our tent and hit the sack!

Our “two-adventure” day had finally ended!

Oregon Coast Trail: Osprey

September 2, 2019

Labor Day Holiday…in which we hiked over a dune, walked the beach, got picked up by a boat, shopped at two convenience stores, a bakery, and a fish cannery, then walked a road to end the day at a state park Hiker-Biker site.

We started at a wooded campsite near Three-Mile Lake, half a mile from the beach, east of the dunes. The walk back to the beach seemed shorter than yesterday’s crossing! We walked south on the beach at low tide, making for quick and easy walking on firm sand. Most of our three hours of beach walking was in solitude, with no vehicles, nor even dogs allowed. We walked along dunes where Snowy Plover meeting grounds are protected.

The surf pounded and turned its rainbow of shades from gray to green as the sun climbed in the clear sky, sparkling on the smooth surfaces of curling waves. A bank of clouds on the western horizon glowed slightly pink, adding another band of color to the landscape’s palette.

Color bands

The sand was so smooth that I could keep my gaze on the distant gray band marking the end of our beach walk, moving my feet as on a treadmill, noticing only slight changes in scenery – dunes on my left, surf on my right, gray horizon ahead. Only when I looked down could I tell that I was indeed moving forward on the sand, stepping past stones, broken shells, pieces of crab moltings, feathers, and the footprints of birds. A moving meditation!

Osprey, flying over the crashing surf, dove, aborted their dive, hovered, dove again, coming up with a heavy catch. It seemed to take a lot of energy for them to gain enough height to fly away with their prey. One flew over us, a long, ropey object dangling from its talons. Snake? That doesn’t seem right. The bird gathered the rope into its talons, as John realized that it had caught an eel!

At the end of the beach, we abruptly climbed the huge, jagged black rocks of the North Jetty of Winchester Bay. We could call the Winchester Bay Charters for a shuttle across the Umpqua River, saving us a long walk around the bay! We walked along the soft beach and called from the end of the jetty. Twenty minutes later, a boat pulled close, but not close enough to board. The captain was waving us around! It turned out that we had to bushwhack about two hundred yards up river, around and through fallen trees and dune grass, to reach the spot he could land. He called, “I’ll pull in, then you need to jump aboard quickly. John hopped up into the bow. “Wait there!” Travis, the captain called. “I have to come back in!” He repositioned the boat. I heaved my pack up, but had trouble hoisting myself up the four feet. Made it! With John hauling me up by my pants and me tumbling into the bow. An unglamorous entrance to be sure, but just another adventure on the Oregon Coast Trail!

Where we thought our boat would arrive!

We spent a couple of hours in the fishing town of Winchester Bay, eating pizza at Beck’s Store, buying fresh bread at the Sourdough Bakery, cheese and ramen at the Pelican Plaza Market. There were no tuna packets available, which makes sense in a place where boats are hauling in fresh-caught tuna every day! The market owner suggested we try the Sportman’s Cannery and get some local fish. We walked out of town about 5:00 with a can of local tuna and a little packet of smoked salmon!

Tonight, we’re camped at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park where we met our first Oregon Coast Trail hiker! She’s hiking south like us, having just started in Florence which we left yesterday. We had fun talking with her about other trails and dehydrated food. And, she’s doing an impressive thing, too – carrying a “pack raft” to navigate the bay and river crossings! Amazing!

Oregon Coast Trail: High Tide

September 1, 2019

Our hotel rest stop was a welcome break and a sort of new beginning for the rest of the trip. We took an entire day off at the Villa West Hotel, at the crossroads of US101 and 126 in Florence, Oregon. We stayed until checkout time at 11.
John’s willingness to take a taxi out of Florence, skipping a few miles of roadwalking, and even a little forest walking, made today a delightfully easy day! Well, mostly, anyway. The cab driver dropped us off at the Wax Myrtle Trailhead, 3/4 mile from the beach. Yes, there were wax myrtle trees on the route!

We got there right at noon. A half hour later, the trail ended at the beach, beginning our 4-hour beach walk as the tide came in. Incoming tide means that the surf encroaches further up the shore, covering the firmer sand that’s easier to walk on. I decided to walk barefoot, which is fine for an hour or so, then is tiring.We had a little excitement for choosing a driftwood log just surfside to a tidepool that was filling. We had to grab our packs and dodge the water when a high wave crept up to our log!A few miles down the beach we had to cross a river that flowed into the ocean. As an inlander, I rarely have thought about what it really looks like when a river flows into the sea! I’ve gotten familiar with it on this trail, as we’ve seen many – from trickles to wide bays. This one is about twenty feet wide and shallow. We could simply wade across, although I got a little nervous when it crept close to the bottom of my pack.

Where we crossed the Tehkenitch River

Twenty minutes later, we reached Access Point 115A and turned off to Three-Mile Lake, our day’s destination! This is when the “mostly” easy qualification came in! To get to the lake, we had to traverse the half mile of dunes between the beach and the lake. That was slow going in the deep, loose sand! I used my Meet the Mountains Technique to make it easy, even though these were not actually mountains! The constantly shifting sand gave shifty resistance to each step, though, so I was glad for my stepping and breathing practice. (You’ve got this, right? If not, I’ll give you the link, so your mountain – and dune – climbing can be easy! https://forgivenesswalks.com/ReginaMeetsMountains)We did not like the looks of the camping around the lake, so turned north on another trail and found a sweet wooded campsite with a perfect distant view of the ocean and sunset! At only 5 p.m. we’re all set up and relaxing. No waiting for six days to summarize the day!

Sunset from Three Mile Lake Campsite

Oregon Coast Trail: Tunnel

August 30, 2019

“I simply won’t walk through the tunnel,” I said. “I will ask at the parking area until I get a ride.”

That’s what I had said about the tunnel cut through the mountain on US101 just south of Heceta Head. It would be our challenge for the day, and the only place I flatly refused to walk on the Oregon Coast Trail. Oh sure, I didn’t like walking any of the stretches of 101, but this one seemed outright suicidal! Bonnie’s guidebook said, “just make sure there are no motorhomes coming when you walk through.” Say what? There were RVs every twenty seconds! We also heard about a button hikers could push that turned on a flashing light warning drivers that a bike was in the tunnel. But how long did it flash? Long enough for walkers to get through? My decision was to stand firm on my no walking stance. I was confident that I could meet someone who would give us a ride.In fact, I had done just that the evening before at the Carl G. Washburne State Park Campground! At the bath house I had met Rachel, who admired our adventure. She had said, “I would gladly take you tomorrow morning – if we were staying here tonight.” They were headed to the campground from which we had just walked, Rock Creek. Her response certainly encouraged me that others would find our request reasonable.We got an early start, taking the campground road out to 101 and crossing over to the trail to the beach. I was stunned to see the highway completely quiet! It was 7:45 a.m. and there were simply no cars on the road! “Now, this is the Oregon Coast Trail I would like!” We knew the quiet would soon and and we chose the trail to the beach. At the trailhead, we noticed a bus schedule posted that indicated a bus leaving from this entrance to Washburne Park at 9:20 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. “So, this bus can be a backup if we don’t get a ride!”

US 101 was empty at 7:45 a.m. Now, I like that!

We had a half hour or so on the beach until we found the fluorescent green sign with a black number indicating an access point. This one was for The Hobbit Trail, conjuring up visions of lush greenness. That was basically true, as we climbed up into the spruce forest, laced with ferns, getting a long view of the beach we had just walked about 30 minutes earlier.








Beach at Washburne State Park

We headed for the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which first appeared below us like the cap of a carnival tent.

Heceta Head Lighthouse: First Glimpse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

We visited the lighthouse for a while, I making use of the time chatting about birds with a woman studying the rocks below through binoculars, and casually mentioning that our challenge for the day was to find a ride through the tunnel. “We’d gladly give you a ride if we were going south.” She assured me. “We can do this!” I rejoiced. Meanwhile, John had been searching on Google and found a taxi in nearby Florence that could pick us up if needed. We had another backup.

A half hour walk took us easily down the hill to the parking area. I surveyed the people and decided to ask the man striding solo down the lighthouse path toward the parking lot, keys in hand. He responded to my inquiry with a quizzical look and a non-English dismissal. “Not that one”, I chuckled, undiscouraged. “There are plenty of people here!” I noticed a woman wearing an orange safety vest. She approached me, handing me a clipboard. “I’m Tara, from the Cape Perpetua Cooperative. Would you please take my survey?” “Sure!” I replied, then added my own proclamation about needing a ride through the tunnel. “Well,” she said. “I’ll be here another twenty minutes or so, then I’d be happy to take you through the tunnel!” Done! That was easy! We had our ride, and a very interesting one at that. We learned more about the partnerships supporting environmental and trail issues along the coast, and helped her a little too, to understand what an obstacle this tunnel is! I felt like we had met a colleague, not just another tourist! Oh, and as we left her car at milemarker 181 where the trail returned to the beach, John said, “We crossed the halfway mark – in your car!”

That’s the tunnel! Not as long or as dark as I had imagined, but still formidable!

The Tunnel Overview

Although our tunnel ride was the logistical highlight of our day, there were a few more memorable moments during our 6-mile beach walk that ended at the North Jetty in Florence, Oregon.

  • The next few miles of beach were protected for snowy plovers which meant no dogs! We met no dogs – or people!
  • We had entered the sand dunes area, now seeing sweeping and rolling dunes! Beautiful!

Sand Dunes south of Heceta Head

  • I saw a blue heron in the surf!
  • Ravens and vultures were picking on a skeleton. A seal! I hadn’t thought about it before, that seals are carnivores. What sharp canine teeth!
  • While sitting on a driftwood log snacking, we watched an Osprey dive straight down into the surf and come up with a fish!
  • We met a northbound backpacker out for the weekend, the closest we’ve come to another OCT hiker.
  • We reached the North Jetty, then Rhododendron Drive into Florence, at about 2:30. That gave us plenty of time to reach the Post Office where we had our second maildrop containing our dehydrated favorites hummus and sweet potatoes, plus replacement toiletries and journal paper. Soon, I was upset about the narrow shoulder and fast cars zooming by. With two more miles to go, I made the bold move of calling a cab, threatening our “thruhiker” status by not walking all the miles. I shrugged, John grumbled, but he did take the ride.
  • At 3:45 we were checked into the Vista West Hotel, maildrop in hand, at “the crossroads of Oregon” as John calls this intersection of US101 and 126 to Eugene.

And now, I’m writing this at 10 p.m. on Saturday night, August 31st after a full day of rest and reflection. Our hotel is a block away from Safeway, where we’ve shopped twice, and near True Value Hardware and Dollar Tree. We’ve got a full fuel canister and have indulged in epsom salt soaks, soothing our aching feet and John’s rare blisters.

This rest day also gave me the chance to watch the livestream of a very special event – the Celebration of Life for my teacher of Radical Forgiveness, Colin Tipping, who passed away on June 28th. It was a reverent and heartfelt event. I’ll watch the 90-minute program again, I’m sure! I invite you to watch as well, to learn about his endearing contribution to humanity and his vital legacy represented by Radical Forgiveness, the healing technology that he authored and taught, leaving several hundred coaches like myself trained to carry on this effective work – while he guides us in spirit during this next pivotal time in humanity.

Watch the recording here:

Colin Tipping Celebration of Life

And now, on to the southern half of the Oregon Coast Trail!