The landmark we had approached for two days was now underfoot. Rounding the ridge of Tillamook Head we heard a wondrous sound. Here, from within the cathedral of spruce and fir, a chorus of sea lions resonated! Ocean and forest meet!
As we climbed the forest path of Tillamook Head, generously and thoughtfully preserved by Marie Louise Feldenheimer in the 1970’s, I recalled other forests of majestic trees I have walked – Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail, Joyce Kilmer in Tennessee, Mt. Rogers in Virginia, even the tiny 60-acre Wesselman Woods in Evansville, Indiana. In all of them, the ancient trees, wide and tall, filled me with awe at the ability of plants to grow so huge! We rounded the ridge to the surf side and there I experienced something none of these other forests had provided – the barking of sea lions! A little ways out from shore, is a rock capped with a light house. With my binoculars I could just barely make out the movement of the silhouettes of sea lions.
August 14, 2019
Our first three miles of the Oregon Coast Trail is a shakedown for the rest of the trip.
The Fort Stevens State Park staff who registered us for the Hiker Biker Site said we could park our van there for the extent of our trip! They are really supporting us as hikers, including providing a secure parking space for the whole month we’ll be on the trail! As we wandered around the back lot behind the employee area where we understood we could park, a smiling park staff said, “Can I help you?” She excitedly pointed us to the correct spot, delighted to have Oregon Coast Trail hikers. She also answered our query about where to get a tide table, a necessity for hiking the coast, with directions to Bornstein’s Fish Market, “the place with the best tide table – and good food too!”
August 15, 2019
I walked all day along the beach and didn’t have to turn back.
Last Spring, while walking on the beach in San Diego, I wondered what it would be like to just keep walking along the coast, all the way to Washington. Today, on our first full day on the coast of Oregon, I got a taste of that! I liked it! Of course, this beach, from Fort Stevens State Park to the town of Seaside, may be unique with its pure brown sand and no shells or rocks. I wore my new sandals and enjoyed them as I walked in and out of the surf. I did have a break in issue with abrasions on the second for of each foot. I taped them up with the sports tape in my pack, which isn’t as good as the self-stick gauze. I’ll have to get some. This is exactly the reason I decided to carry two pairs of shoes! I haven’t decided which is best for the mixed terrain of this walk. I switched to my trailrunners and socks for the last couple of miles. They were so much better on the dune leaving the beach and the two miles of road walk through Seaside.
August 10, 2019
We’re headed to Oregon!
Today, John and I will wrap things up in Ohio and begin our cross-country drive to Oregon. John has been researching the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT), learning that it’s quite different from the Eastern US trails we’ve walked!
- It’s relatively level
- It goes through or near towns frequently
- Many state parks along the way have sites for hikers
- It frequently follows a road
- It’s along the coast, which means beach walking!
We still have to choose our gear. We’ll probably take the free-standing tent rather than my all-time favorite tarp because it will set up more easily on the beach. We’re also discussing whether or not to take a stove. It could be difficult to find canister fuel, although the tiny stove itself is lightweight and easy to carry, so we might just have it in reserve. We’re counting on having lots of wind, so will be sure to have our windshirts or rainjackets. I’ll keep you posted on our other gear choices!
One piece of gear I love is my waist pouch. In fact, it’s not just hiking gear, it’s become everyday wear! Yes, it may not be the most stylish accessory, but hey, style hasn’t been a priority of mine. Usefulness wins!
What’s useful about a waist pouch is that my essential items are safe and always available!
Here’s what I keep in my waist pouch:
- Credit cards
- Tiny journal tools
- Tiny bottles of essential oils
- Dental floss
- Tiny Pocket knife
- Extra phone batteries
- Ear buds
- A copy of The 13 Steps
- A spoon
- Needle & pins
This is a long list of items, right? The key is to have tiny versions of each thing!
And, my favorite pouch so far is the Eagle Creek Wayfinder or the Eagle Creek Tailfeather.
July 29, 2019
I read a post today from a woman anxious to get outside while recovering from a car accident. “I miss my outdoors,” she laments. I agree, when we feel utterly nourished by walking in Nature, it’s debilitating to stay inside!
The same feeling predominates while we are waiting for our time for a long hike. Will the start date for our thruhike ever come?!!
I used to believe that the trail and the rest of my life were two separate worlds. While walking the Appalachian Trail, I acted as if my life on the trail, my trail relationships, and my daily activities there could never coincide with my life in Atlanta. I thought that I was either on the trail or off the trail and that there was no overlap. I yearned for the trail in between walks, thinking that my life at home just wasn’t fulfilling and that only hiking could give me the vibrant radiance I experienced on the trail.
July 25, 2019
Yesterday, I walked up Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia, with a dear friend who is working on strengthening her body for a trip to Aspen, Colorado. I encouraged her to focus on breathing out when trying to have more air for climbing. It seems counter-intuitive to consciously get rid of air when I want more air! However, breathing works in a vacuum, so the more I can empty my lungs of stale breath, the more fresh, oxygenated air flows in without effort!
Two nights ago, I played the Radical Forgiveness board game, Satori, with four courageous women in Atlanta. It was a spontaneous game, organized that same day when I realized I had the evening free and knew of a woman who has wanted to play this powerful game for two years!
July 21, 2019
Ahh! The Great Smoky Mountains refresh my soul! Their lush, opulent vegetation, towering trees, cool temperatures, and misty moistness wrap me in intrigue, curiousity and wonder! John and I squeezed in another overnight before heading to Atlanta for a busy week.
We took the Balsalm Ridge Trail up to Laurel Gap Shelter where I renewed my attachments to the Benton MacKaye Trail which I walked four times in a year in 2009-2010. Those trips provided unforgettable experiences in solo hiking! Although I had gone to the Appalachian Trail in 2007 by myself, I was rarely alone once I got on the trail. The Benton MacKaye Trail, 288 miles in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, is sparsely traveled. I had plenty of time on my own! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! Here are a few things I learned from hiking solo.
July 20, 2019
What a blessing to have a five-day walk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The lush, green, and lavishly diverse landscape truly exemplifies the fad of Forest Bathing and contrasts starkly with my winter desert habitat!
Although my body cringed a bit with muscle soreness since I haven’t taken a long walk since last August, my soul basked in the sensory luxury while my body remembered how to meet the mountains!
During the walk I received a message from a woman yearning to get out on another five-day walk herself, inquiring about guided walks for next fall. That sounds like a long way away, until I consider all that life might already have scheduled plus the preparation required to create a radiantly fulfilling walk!
“Thruhikers are celebrities!” I read that in a women’s hiking group and chuckled. I don’t feel special! I walked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia within a year’s time, so I am a thruhiker.
As a thruhiker, how I know about myself is that I fulfilled my dream of being able to say, “I walked the AT”. I feel true to myself, that I listened to my heart and did what it took to walk one day at a time – and keep walking! So, if doing that makes me a celebrity, great. More than fame, however, what I want to do is entice others to create their own walks wherever they are, on the Appalachian Trail or in the neighborhood park! I want to help you discern what your equivalent of the Appalachian Trail is and step into fulfilling that dream!