yup, so here i am in seaside at the international hostel. they give a discount for oct hikers! some of these folks have been on some great journeys. one guy, when i listen to him from the other room, reminds me of utah phillips! anyway, this morning it is pouring out and i am supposed to get back out there and climb up a muddy rainforest path. soooo i’ll have a hot cup of coffee first.
yesterday i managed to cut some weight out of my pack, but i’m not sure how much further i can go. i did actually get rid of one of my drinking vessels, and for those of you who know how much i love to have my vessels you know how hard this was to do, and i’m contemplating switching another one out for something lighter. why i can get rid of all these major things in my life, but my vessels….whole other story. i think it goes back to my year of package free. i don’t want to use disposable bottles and cups.
anyway, so the adventure up to astoria, staying at sou’wester, then taking one more day and camping at ft. stevens was super exciting. the guys helped me do a couple of shakedowns, kept me calm when inside i was kind of freaking out about how much shit i still had/have, and bought me an afternoon beer to calm my nerves. they really are the best.
they took me to the mouth of the columbia river and the south jetty where the oct starts. we shared some hugs and tears (there really is no way to thank these two so much for, well not just the last couple days but all the years we have been building our relationships). then i was off!
it was a fine sunny sunday, and being a fine sunny easter sunday, i wasn’t sure just how crowded the beach would be. it was fine. i quickly put the hood up on my wind jacket over my cap to keep that southern wind from blowing it off and sand and wind out of my ears and set my pace. my pack is too fucking heavy.
i make it to the eroding ship that is 3.5 miles down the coast in pretty good time, so i stop and dump sand from my shoes and check my feet. all seems well. when i cross the parking lot i spot 2 folks at the back of a pick-up tuck loading up a pack. huh! i didn’t think i’d actually see another backpacker out here. we wave. i would have stopped, but i thought they were just rearranging for camping, but at my next stop i saw one of them hiking right past me…that pack looked big and heavy!
the other thing i didn’t think i’d experience on this trail was people offering things. but not a few miles in and i had 2 offers and conversations about hiking and such. people were really into it.
when i stopped for dinner, i realized i was in a little trouble feet wise. i was not able to keep the sand out of my shoes and ended up with some serious blisters. i tried to clean them up, but the wind would blow sand into everything. i wanted to set up my tent, but camping isn’t permitted in the area, so i just tried to dig in out-of-the-way. also, i wasn’t just sure how high the high tide would be. yes, i have a fancy watch that has the current tide info, and a tide table, but just how high is 280′?
i was tired and frustrated (my stove/dinner blew over and spilt twice even though i had put of the wind screen and dug a little safe place for it. so i set up my tent with just the fly and groundsheet incase i got tossed out our the waves came up close, i could bail quickly. i placed things around me to keep the wind/sand at bay, set my watch alarm to about 1/2 hour before high tide (1:30 am) and rested. i woke up a few times to flashes of light. what could it be? not lightning!? nope. cars! they just don’t stop. i thought after sunset, they would go away, but no.
when the sun did set, the wind died down and i got some rest. my alarm went off. i check the ocean. it was far off like i had thought it should be and went back to sleep. but the stars…the night sky….wow! clouds and stars and the lights of ships off in the horizon were amazing!
all of a sudden i felt a huge blow and gust of wind and my shelter was trying to take flight! what the… as the sun started to break around 5:30, the wind also decided to rise, and rise it did. i packed up everything i could as fast as i could, using the weight of us all to hold down the shelter. i then broke down the shelter trying to keep it from becoming a parasail. i hungered down behind a log, swigged some water and started down the trail.
i was told that there was a little r.v. camping place with a general store at the end of the beach access road, so i head that direction. once i got out of the wind, i took a deep breath and sat behind the pit toilets for a minute to make sure everything was intact. all was good. feet where good. just needed water, so i headed up to find the r.v. park. it was early, like 6:30/7 am early and as i walked into the park, i thought oh boy, this is going to be interesting. this wasn’t really an r.v. park for travelers and campers. nope people lived here. the store was closed and as i looked around i saw all kinds of no trespassing signs with the names of the people who will call the cops. a sign on the door said where the bathrooms and portapottys were located, so i walked around a minute. as i rounded a corner there was this older guy putting coolant in the radiator of his truck. we looked at each other. i smiled. he smiled. mornin’. mornin’. you doin’ the pct? eventually. i’m on the oct right now. cool. great. whatch doin’ here? looking form some water. bathrooms should be open. great! thanks! take care. you too.
i headed into the bathrooms. one faucet leaked all over the floor instead of coming out of the tap. the second one was just fine! i drank up and filled up and headed down the trail.
the wind was something! i mostly kept my head down, but you know, they say never turn your back on the ocean, so every-once-in-awhile i looked up and over. oh one thing. before the sun had come up, i was able to hike without a headlamp. didn’t think much about it. no one was around, but then headlights! so i walked to the left of the headlights. then the car shifted heading right towards me, so i moved to the other side, and it moved! this went on for a bit. i was about to pull my headlamp out and flash it up at them when they finally moved to the far side but with their high-beams on! they then circled around me and started asking me questions. between the wind and the waves i said i couldn’t hear them. finally they headed off.
i knew i had to get 12 miles in to reach seaside where i was going to get a room at the hostel and shakedown again. my body was feeling great, but my feet! oh my golly! i wanted to chop them off. i couldn’t find a good place to care for the blisters that started forming, so i just kept trying to soak them in the cold ocean. i finally waddled into town where i still had about 4 miles to walk all the way across on concrete! oh that did not help! when i go to the hostel, the folks were so so so nice and chatted me up a storm…it was painful. all i wanted was to get out of these wet cloths (yes, it had started raining a couple of hours before), wash the sand out of all the cracks and crevices of my body, and sleep! finally after the tour, i dropped my pack on the floor, showered, and slept for hoooouuuuurrrrs, went to the brewery, came back and slept some more!
the morning was warm and sunny. i drank a nice cup of coffee on the porch but knew i could not walk on these feet, so i spent the day resting, reading, and tending to my feet. it was a super nice day! everyone here is so friendly! they ask your name and remember it! i highly recommend staying here.
today is going to be a challenge, but i think i only have to go around 7 miles to the hiker “cabins” at tillamook head in ecola state park, and once i am in the forest, the rain won’t be as bad, but i do have a 2 mile section that is straight up with a work-around a landslide from the winter storms. aaaand this is why i got good rain gear!
p.s. park is closed due to winter storms and landslides, soooo, new plans. at least it’s not snow!