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!

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