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!

Oregon Coast Trail: Amanda

August 28, 2019

Although I have been disappointed by the roadwalking along 101, my suffering pales to that of Amanda, the Yachats woman, and the thousands of others, who were cheated out of their homeland here, tortured, murdered, and forced to walk along the lava rock coast to an encampment. It would have taken great foresight to preserve a natural coastal corridor for our trail, yes. Even better would have been to ratify the treaty in 1855 giving the original people their twenty-mile wide coastal area.

Today’s walk took us off of US101 for quite a number of trail miles. Trail advocates had arranged for several miles of the trail to wind around through the coast houses, vacation homes, and resorts. The route is called The 804. On this day, it was well-populated with day walkers enjoying the cliff lands, staying back from the edge where signs warned of fragile cliffs, and a memorial reminds us that two “strong young men” had been swept off to drown by a “sneaker wave”. We stayed back and watched the crashing surf billow over the rocks.

The 804 Trail

Stay back!

Later, another trail wound up a steep hill on the east side of the highway. The signs admonished us to respect this private land where we had permission to walk on “Amanda’s Trail” to Cape Perpetua. Along the way, we visited the statue commemorating Amanda, the Yachats woman who had been forced away from her daughter and white, unmarried spouse when the cavalry came to drive off the native people in the 1850’s. No one knows if she lived or died, but her story reminds us of the genocide our America has perpetrated more than once.

Amanda now adorned

We talk somberly about the topic as we climb the rest of the mountain to another period monument at the crest of Cape Perpetua – a CCC rock shelter.

Cape Perpetua Rock Shelter: window to a gray sunset

By this time, it’s late afternoon, and we still have a few miles to go to the Cape Perpetua Campground. The overlook is suddenly rain, dark, and windy so we don our rain jackets and hats. Twenty minutes later, we’re peeling them off because it’s dry and warm below! We learn that this effect is peculiar to the high elevation spruce forest that traps moisture that drops off the trees like rain!

We descend quickly, and soon drop off into the USFS campground, our destination for the night. We see the Hiker-Biker site listed and head for it. However, we meet the campground manager on our way. He takes our ten bucks and we walk back to site #11, unusually far from the entrance, but closer than our other option, site #29A!

To our dismay, though, Site #11 is literally a blocked car slip with a picnic table on it next to a ten-foot wide strip of grass. Although we look at other sites, we decide to stay there, grumbling about the layout. I held my tongue, but wanted to say, “We come without a car, so we get to BE a car and have our table in the parking slip.” I add this to my growing list of quandaries for the makers of this trail. Just what are/were they thinking hikers are like? I sleep with my hat pulled over my eyes to block out the headlights that go by during the night. It’s yet another chance for me to do The Thirteen Steps to Radical Forgiveness. Grateful for the tool, I choose peace.

Parked table at site#11

Oregon Coast Trail: Seal Rocks

August 27, 2019

This day had similarities to yesterday, with a few variations in the details of food and campsite services. We had beautiful beach walking, some awesome rocks, not so much roadwalking, and early evening arrival at South Beach State Park Hiker-Biker site.

My notes for the day:

7:20 away from camp at South Beach
8:40 stop to cook breakfast on beach; Potatoes onions garlic cheese
10:36 shoes off. In close view of Seal Rocks cliffs. I’ve been trying all variations of beachwalking: sandals, barefoot, shows and socks. All have pros and cons. The sandals work if I wrap my toes in gauze tape. Barefoot feels great – for a while, then my feet are tired. Shoes are most supportive – and get my shoes wet.

Lovely Seal Rocks captivate my attention

The waves crashed high over Seal Rocks

11:16 talked with Washingtonians
11:40 lunch at seal rocks before going up off the beach to get around Seal Rocks. It took just a few minutes to get around this time, and we were quickly back on the beach.

Lunch break included a quick drawing of Seal Rocks.

Seal Rocks Closeup

12:10 leaving beach again for walk on US101 to NW Coast drive. Back soon, this time for a couple of hours.
2:15 off beach at Bayshore Beach Club, Access #67B. We rest in the shade nearby an elegant pool, feeling the awkwardness of the homeless next to the rich. We walk on Westward Dr to Bayshore Dr to the beach on a bay. We have to cross another bridge, lver the Alsea River. We can’t tell if we can get up the dune right at the bridge. We ask a woman walking her dog. She thinks we can. She’s right! There’s a good trail winding up the hill next to, not through the KOA, with its No Trespassing signs. The trail goes right to a park with steps up to the bridge. This one is similar to the Newport Bridge – without the wind today! We are soon across and looking for our route to Ray’s Food Place, a half-mile away.

3:31 At Ray’s we engage our two-visit strategy. We are hot and hungry, so we get something to eat immediately. This time, it’s a box of greens, an avocado, and a tangerine. John goes for a 1.5 qt juice blend. The store has a welcoming section of tables at their deli.

We cross the street to Ace Hardware to search for a canister. They have an empty shelf where our product would be. No luck! However, the clerk digs in the cash register for something else we need – a safety for John’s button, which just popped off.

Back at Ray’s, we buy no cook foods: Frito’s bean dip, ramen, cheese, pears, red pepper, avocados,blueberries.
5:30 leave store, walk down the beach and exit at Beachside State Park.
7:05 Beachside State Park has a Hiker-Biker site conveniently located next to the registration office and bathroom. Alas, there’s no charging station. There is an outlet in the bathroom nearby. These are good sites in the woods. The Registration is closed when we arrive, so I dip into my stash of groups of 10, 5 ,and 1 dollar bills to make our $16 fee. We heat our ramen with the dwindling fuel and hang our food bags in a nearby tree. No other hikers or bikers arrive.

 

 

Oregon Coast Trail: Bridge

August 26, 2019

My notes for today tell the story of this pleasantly short day, a good follow-up to yesterday’s long walk!

10:44 After hot breakfast and showers, we’re leaving the Beverly Beach Campground escorted by Jack, a 7-yr old who rode by me on his bike several times while I waited for John to finish his shower. On his second trip past me, Jack proudly announced that he had been given permission to ride around the campground on his own. I celebrate those of us with the courage to meet strangers. I depend on them regularly!

11:00 On the beach. I notice that the pebbles are of different colors than north of here, more golden ones.

Golden Pebbles south of Beverly Beach, Oregon

 

 

11:27 There’s a thin waterfall dropping from the top of the dune here!
11:57 Willets, not just gulls
12:21 End of beach walk


Beach north of Yaquina Head, Oregon. As usual, we must exit the beach here to get around the cape.

1:00 headed up to US101 for a short walk on the road.
1:20 back on beach for four miles! We see lots of people on the beach as we enter Newport. It’s windy. Tailwind.
3:09 end of beach. (we missed Wal-Mart! John thought we would see it from the beach, but we were already past it when he checked Google maps. We needed a new fuel canister!)

4:15 To get over the bay at Newport we had to cross the bridge to South Beach. The bridge was a challenge with keeping my balance in the wind!


Newport, OR Bridge

4:43 shopping at South Beach Grocery and Fish Market. The two businesses collaborate. With a low fuel canister and limited stock at the store, we decide on getting a salmon burger and fries at the fish market for immediate consumption. We buy cheddar cheese, bean dip, vanilla wafers, garlic, banana, tortillas, peaches potato, an onion, garlic, (no oatmeal)
5:44 done at grocery
We cut through behind the Toyota dealer and through the private camp to a trail at the boundary of the state park and the camp. Walk all through the park to registration and Hiker-Biker site. First time in a corral! (The designated sites are surround by timber fencing) Receptacles in charging station, yay!
6:30 all set up at site 4AB

Oregon Coast Trail: Whale of a Day

August 25, 2019

On which we walked big miles, made a big leap in our thruhiking style, and saw some really big creatures!

Adding a few more words or phrases to the words above, like in one of those grammar games, we walked something like sixteen miles, starting our day at 5 a.m. at Devil’s Lake State Park and ending at 7:30 p.m. at Beverly Beach State Park. We made a big leap in our thruhiking style by catching the Lincoln County bus to skip four miles of walking on US 101 between Taft and Gleneden, making our day’s trip miles jump to 20. And, for our first time on this trip and over several hours of our day, from Boiler Bay south to Cape Foulweather, we saw whales – Gray Whales! Mostly, we saw the spouts of water sprayed from whales, and sometimes the backs of whales, to the tune of about 20 sightings in four to six spots along the coast. We just caught a glimpse of one whale between two houses as we walked down residential Coast Street in the southern streets of Depoe Bay. It was a whale of a day!

Other highlights include:

  • Walking into the sunrise on the beach. We had to walk 3 miles down the beach to the bus stop in Taft to catch the 7:30 a.m. bus. A blessing, really.
  • Meeting a winter resident of Palm Springs, CA (near us in Borrego Springs) at the park in Gleneden as we cooked our oatmeal and kale breakfast after our 7:30 a.m. bus ride.
  • Stopping for “the best of the best” latte at Pirate Coffee in, guess what, Pirate Cove! I’m not a good judge of coffee, but it was a nice stop on a windy day!
  • Visiting the Oregon State Parks Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay where we saw more whales and I got an idea for an activity for the Visitor Center at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where I’ll be from October through May.
  • There was a stretch of roadwalk along Otter Crest Drive that actually had a dedicated pedestrian/bike lane, a single one-way lane for cars, signs identifying bikes and walkers, and a 20 mph speed limit. We felt gratefully accommodated in the transportation corridor for three whole miles!
  • Several stretches along US 101 today had dirt trail built off the shoulder, sometimes behind the guardrail or through the nearby vegetation. We noticed that it coincided with a utility line. We were grateful that we could share that space! In one of my many Radical Forgiveness moments of this journey, I noticed the irony of celebrating a powerline.
  • I was tired and cranky on our last 2-mile beach walk of the day, but grateful to reach Beverly Beach State Park to find the nice storage boxes with receptacles for phone charging in the Hiker-Biker campsite. Another irony of hiking all day – too worn out to fully integrate the beauty I came to enjoy!

This was our 12th day in the Oregon Coast Trail, 138 miles from our starting point.

Boiler Bay, Sighting our first grey whales

Taft, OR Historic District at dawn

Whale Cove Overlook where we saw whales and harbor seals too!

Oregon Coast Trail: Stamina

August 24, 2019

I awoke with gratitude for being in the quiet green spaciousness of the Cascade Head rainforest. Our choice to stop our forced march to the Sea Echo Motel in Lincoln City and sleep in this forest was a good one! This is what we needed! The stop also broke up our road walk on US 101 into two days instead of one very long, arduous one! With my spirit renewed by a night in the woods, I could bolster my courage and tolerance and walk on the road again. We still had 3.7 miles to go to Lincoln City, where we could shop at Safeway and return to the beach for a short walk to Devil’s Lake State Park Campground. We got away from our camp at a leisurely 8:40 a.m. We still had an hour’s walk in the forest. This time, I paid attention to its beauty!

About 9:30 we reached US 101, resuming our walk on the shoulder. An hour later, John noticed Clancy Road, which Bonnie had noted in her Dayhikers Guide as a short cut to the beach. We followed the road about 20 minutes to her cryptic description of a gate, then a trail, but stopped short of walking through private property. We simply weren’t willing to do it! We retraced our steps on Clancy Road, picking a handful of ripe blackberries on our way, and got back on US 101. At least we had tried!

At 11:25 we passed the Neotsu Post Office. Across the street I spied a golf course. “Maybe we could walk along the edge and avoid some of 101,” I suggested. We tried it and boldly started walking along the golf cart road toward the south side of the golf course. No one seemed to mind. A few minutes later, we heard, “What are you doing here?” A man wearing a white hat lettered Chinook Winds Resort pulled up in his golf cart. “Good! Someone who can direct us!” I called cheerfully. “We’re trying to stay off 101 and get over there!” I pointed to the next busy intersection. “Well, you can’t be here! Keep moving! Golfers are coming!” He snapped. We kept moving. Another golfer came along and we asked him for clearer directions. He gave them kindly, and we walked directly through the course on the cart road and out into the neighborhood, freed again from 101 for half a mile. Within ten minutes we reached Safeway, a safe place for us to be. There, we knew we were welcome to shop and eat a tasty lunch of guacamole, red pepper, lettuce, and fresh strawberries. Then, we shopped again for our food for the next 24 hours.

At 1:45 we were back on the road again, looking for the beach access at the Chinook Winds Casino. We found it quickly, along with the noisy rock band and crowd enjoying a car show. We ignored all that and headed to the beach! Two hours later, we ambled through the beach crowds to leave the beach at D River, “The Shortest River”, according to the signs, and walk north for one last bit on US 101 to the entrance to Devil’s Lake State Park Campground. Soon, we were all set up at the Hiker Biker site, with four others.
We had arrived so early, I had time to shower and wash out my clothes!

We were still hiking, undefeated by the challenging roadwalking on US 101!  John made no further mention of his idea to leave the trail. I was glad I had made no response to his frustrated threat yesterday. Tomorrow, we would be on the trail again after a good rest!

Oregon Coast Trail: Rain Day

August 21, 2019

7:56 Zach drops us off by boat on the Netarts Spit. We walk the beach, wondering when the forecasted rain would start. It’s overcast and raining oh so slightly. As we walk, the only ones on the beach today, my mind wanders to the rhythm of my feet.

This is our eighth day of hiking and I have noticed some inconveniences – I’m tired from our long days of walking, ready for a rest day; my sandals aren’t working so great because they rub a couple of toes raw. I do have gauze tape which helps; Its windy and starting to rain making walking a little uncomfortable.

As I walk, though, I notice the immense and surprising beauty of this beach – frothing surf, constant waves, soft, smooth sand, forested ridges giving way to grassy dunes where the indigenous Netarts people lived, sand dollars in various pieces inviting me to see if I can make a collage of them into a whole.

All of the inconveniences dissolve in the presence of the captivating beauty!

We walk on.

I notice that the mid-morning sun occasionally pierces the cloud veil to my left while ahead the white mist of rain blankets the beach.

Something tumbles along the sand. A creature? No, a tuft of the grassy-bladed seaweed. Tumbling seaweed? Who would have imagined?

9:12 I spy a smooth, bleached log resting in the deep sand back from the surf and from the firm sand where we walk. Time for a snack. “Look! A rainbow!” John says. How can I feel anything but contentment? It’s a complete rainbow arching above the ocean straight out in front of me!

9:45 We walk on. Now, its rainy and windy. It’s warm, though, so I’m comfortable, realizing that most people probably limit their beach walks to clear days, missing this remarkable sensory experience! We’re getting closer to the end of this beach now. We meet the first other walkers of the morning. They’re holding their shoes, walking barefoot.

10:25 we reach the end of the beach at the base of Lookout Cape which makes a steep, insurmountable wall in our path. We climb up the dune and walk through the campground to find the Hiker Biker site at Lookout Cape State Park. According to our guidebook, this one is the favorite of hikers.

We look at the Hiker Biker site. There are at least 16 sites with tables and small patches for tents, all carved out among small evergreen trees and thick shrubs. There’s the charging station with cubic metal lockers equipped with usb connections. So far, the Oregon State Parks have all had these. What a nice feature!

We waited to check in ’til noon, when the rain started in earnest. We crawled into our tent and napped. In about thirty minutes, water was coming through the tent floor! I laid out the poncho for an extra layer. “Why didn’t we choose the site with the grassy spot?” I lamented. I took a walk around to look at the other sites. As it turned out, our tent was actually on one of the few dry spots in the whole Hiker Biker camp! Even the grassy spots were inundated! The cleared spot at our site where we had first considered putting our tent was now a three-inch puddle!

5:00 p.m. The consistent rain seems to have stopped, although it’s still cloudy and drippy outside. We’ll stay put! It’s nice to have had this rainy day to rest – and do some catching up on journaling!

Oregon Coast Trail: Visitors

August 17, 2019

Fourth day on the trail.

We got out from the Hiker camp on Tillamook Head at the leisurely hour of 9 a.m. It was raining oh so lightly. We took off our rain jackets, even! Our morning walk continued another two miles through the forest, descending to the beach at Ecola State Park. The trail going north from Ecola State Park is gentle and wide, a good one for a day hike to Tillamook Head. By contrast, the connecting trail to Cannon Beach, our next one, is closed! Washed out, I understand. That means a two-mile road walk on the state park road. I think we chose the busiest time to walk there-10 a.m. on Saturday morning! We hugged the left side and tried to be visible to drivers. Success!

We reached Cannon Beach through the slot between two rocks at Chapman Point just before 11 a.m. The tide was out enough that the water between the rocks was just thigh deep. Exciting!Perfect timing for our rendezvous with my friend, Wendy. We had been arranging to meet up since she heard I was coming to Oregon to walk. Amazingly, she and her friend, David, arrived at the exact Cannon Beach access which we would reach 15 minutes later. Her final call for our rendezvous went like this:

Hello, Regina! Where are you? Between Chapman Point and Haystack Rock? Do you see a blue tent? I’m standing next to it. Yes!!! I see orange on a backpack! I’ll let David know you’re here. He can park the truck.”

That’s how our meeting went. I’m remarking on this because meeting up with someone like this on a trail is quite a rendezvous. I had wrapped my orange poncho on my pack to show up better. It worked!

David and Wendy walked with us for three hours. The first leg was through town to get across Ecola Creek (later we found out we could have forded it). We passed a pub. None of us wanted to eat more than walk, so we skipped that and headed for the beach. We enjoyed each others’ company, Wendy and I catching up and diving right in to explore current challenges in our lives.  John and I took turns getting acquainted with David. Waling on a beach was a great venue for that! We shared the beach with plenty of other visitors, but rarely got distracted from our own company! Haystack Rock made a good backdrop for Wendy’s favorite photo – mid-air leaping! John and I both took several series of continuous action shots which yielded a few good keepers.

Leaping at Haystack Rock

Too soon, we reached the end of Cannon Beach where John and I would head back up into the forest. There was a Mo’s Restaurant, large enough to accommodate the crowd of hungry beachcombers. We got the perfect table outside and enjoyed our lunches, both vegetarian and fish. We said our goodbyes, knowing we’ll stay in touch, and walked in opposite directions. Our next stop was Fresh Foods to buy just enough food for supper and lunch tomorrow. Frequent town visits are a feature of this trail that contrasts with other long trails. For instance, on the Pacific Crest Trail, most towns are 100 miles apart! We pick up cheese/1 onion/ 2 Bell peppers/cookies/2 pears/one pack tuna/ice cream. The ice cream gets eaten immediately, the rest goes into our packs. Our walk out of Cannon Beach takes us up another mountain into Oswald State Park. The trail begins at a wooden suspension bridge. It’s memorable because it’s sturdily built of lumber, but still sways on its cables!

As evening falls, we’re still walking through tall trees on soft earth, now high above and parallel to Highway 101. At 7:30 I ask John about our destination for the day. Listening to the description from our OCT guidebook, I suggest that we stop sooner rather than later, since it sounds like there’s no camping allowed once we cross the highway. John agrees and we immediately duck into the woods where there are many small, flat spaces among the trees. This is our first undesignated campsite. We can’t tell how far we are from US101, but it’s a good sleeping spot! It’s 7:30 p.m. and we have just enough time to cook our                                                                                     fancy dinner of sauteed onion, pasta, broccoli, and cheese before dark.                                                                                     Light food weight means fresh food!

Oregon Coast Trail: Tillamook

August 16,

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.

Our walk to the Hiker camp atop Tillamook Head took another 30 minutes, ending our 8 miles from Seaside at about 6 p.m. A couple of other women were already there.

We opted to pitch our tent in the forest instead of sleeping in one of the shelters, which were fine as shelters go, but dark. The tent feels like home!

That gave us time to take the short walk to the overlook to the rock hosting the sea lions. Perfect place for my sketch!

Oregon Coast Trail: Underway

Favorite Tide Table book on the northern coast.

We slept in the van, across the parking lot from the trash compactor!

Classic landmark of Fort Stevens State Park is the wreck of the Peter Iredale

One of our first Oregon Coast Trail posts

South Jetty of the Columbia River, northern terminus of the Oregon Coast Trail

Our journey starts by walking north on the beach in Fort Stevens State Park

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!”

We found it, checked out our campsite, shopped for afternoon snacks at Fred Meyer in Warrenton, then packed our packs. From the van, I joined a group mastermind call with my mentor, Connie Ragen Green, then we drove back to the campground. About 2 p.m. we started walking.

The northern terminus is 3 miles north of the campground, so we headed that direction. The flat beach walking went quickly, and we reached the South Jetty about 4 p.m.

“Look!” John said. “Elk!” They were on the beach, just where we had climbed the dunes to walk to the jetty! They stayed for just a minute, then dashed back up the dune. Perhaps this is a good totem for our walk, a symbolic beginning for our month-long walk!

At 4:30, we started south, our official hiking direction! We took an alternate route back to the campground, however, lured by the mystique of walking on the dunes. 2 miles of sharp grass later, we now know that we prefer a beach walk.

7 p.m. saw us back at the campsite for our last night sleeping in the “Old Gold Van”, my grandson’s name for the faded Honda Odyssey that serves as our transportation and rv. Simple as it is, it feels like home.

One amusing feature of our spot was its proximity to the campground trash compactor! We were happy that campers did stop visiting it after dark, so we didn’t have to hear the whirring, crunching machine through the night!

Morning brought time for an oatmeal breakfast and a last check of our gear. I decided to carry both my new sandals and my trail runners, not sure if one choice can accommodate the varied terrain we’ll encounter on this walk. I’ll keep you posted on that!

Our walk away from the campsite and van parking was slowed by making new friends -one of the best features of hiking. At the campground, four cyclists from around the world chatted. The couple from Australia said, “Please come stay with us in Perth! People here have been such fabulous support! We want to return the favor!” At the Park employee area, we chatted with the folks there, verifying our parking spot and getting a friendly sendoff and requests for my blog address. Well, if you’re reading this, you’ve got it! I’ll post when I can, with both good connectivity and a clear brain for writing. Walking days are usually so full of sensory and emotional experiences as well as physical expenditure that I’m ready to rest and sort things out at the end of the day! Thanks for reading! I’ll do my best to keep you apprised of my outer and inner journeys!!