OCT | Day 8 | Lincoln City to Beverly Beach

Lincoln Beach

A week of walking brought us to Lincoln City and a decision for me. Over the last 7 days, I’ve had a variety of pains in both feet but I felt like I was managing it pretty well with moleskin and willpower. After a hard Day 7, though, I developed a blister on the underside of my left foot and what felt like tendonitis across the top of my right. Not good, especially with another big day in front us. I was a bit unsettled as I went to bed.
 
In the morning, Jill was rarin’ to go but I wasn’t feeling that confident. Fortunately, the first 8+ miles today were highway walking that I figured I could easily trade for a morning of rest. The other girls had no interest in a 20+ mile day either so they hung back with me. We found a bus that ran south to Gleneden Beach where we could meet Jill.

While we waited for the bus, I stumbled across a reminder of our Central American Questival adventure last year — https://instagram.com/p/BVNZcMZBs5C

Gleneden Beach to Fishing Rock

The bus took us down the road 8 miles where we met up with Jill. Walking down to the beach, we found some helpful advice if there’s a tsunami while we’re on the coast.

The walk down to the Gleneden Beach provided a nice postcard-quality photo that looked like we’d emerge from the forest onto a tropical island beach.

The weather was certainly nice that day but I didnt see any Mai Tais or sunbathing. 

We did run into a series of tree stumps embedded in the sand. At some point, there must have been trees growing here, or so it seemed.

Before reaching Fishing Rock, the beach effectively ended, forcing us to climb up and over a long rockfield. We decided earlier that the OCT involves traveling by Beach, Boat, Rail, Road, Trail, and Vehicle. Jill suggested we add “Adventure” to account for all river and rock crossings.

Traversing the rocks was trickier than it probably looks in the picture. We found a welcome surprise at the end in the form of an official OCT badge.

Behind the sign, we scrambled up towards the highway.

Working our way east, the trail meandered through a great section of trees that had grown so tightly together that it created a series of “caves” that we could crawl in.

Fogarty Creek to Boiler Bay

Crossing the highway, we ate lunch in Fogarty Creek State Park, then back to the highway to head down to Boiler Bay.

We found a new section of the OCT that was supposedly completed only in 2013. The trail largely followed the highway but provided a much safer path.

Occasionally, the trail would wander into the woods where the picture taking improved.

Eventually, we made it to the Boiler Bay viewpoint.

And more OCT badges.

Depoe Bay

From the Boiler Bay lookout, we made on our way down to the town of Depoe Bay. Here we found a nice boardwalk with plenty of shops and cafes for tourists. This meant real brewed iced tea for Rhonda along with a double espresso for me! Better yet, I found a craft beer bar at the end of town to fill a growler with Sunriver Brewing’s FuzzTail Hefeweizen for Christy and me at dinner later.

We picked up the OCT south of town, lost it, then found it again (several times) as we worked our way south. 

Along the way, we found a spot down on the water where seals / sea lions would sun themselves on a large flat section of rock. Apologies for the image quality but I was at maximum zoom.

Here’s the full view.

As we passed the Rocky Creek Scenic Viewpoint, we left the highway at the Otter Crest Loop.

Otter Crest Loop

The Otter Crest loop largely runs parallel to the 101 and climbs all the way up to Cape Foulweather. The road starts as two lanes but ultimately turns into little more than a walking path where cars are limited to one-way travel.

Around one corner, we could look through the trees and up to our destination. Note the little white house at the very top.

Fast forward through a pretty good climb, here’s the view from the top.

As we started back down the hill, we could see for miles down to Otter Rock and beyond.

Devil’s Punchbowl

We had an easy walk down from the top of the cape. It was getting late in the day but we had a final stop to make.

Leaving the highway at 1st Street, we walked east to the end of road at Otter Rock. Here, we came to see Devil’s Punchbowl.

The view down into the punchbowl was definitely worth the walk.

Especially as the sunset approached.

From Otter Rock, we descended the stairs and back out to the beach.

Beverly Beach

We only a mile and half down to Beverly Beach but we found plenty of opportunities for great pictures.

Eventually, we saw the bridge that provided an entrance to the state park.

Once we were under the bridge, it was back to forest.

And finally, we could see our yurt in the distance.

Day 8 mileage was 14.1 for me (22.5 for Jill) with 646 feet of elevation. Total distance to this point — 147.1 miles.

OCT | Day 7 | Cape Kiwanda to Lincoln City

Cape Kiwanda to Proposal Rock

Today was supposed to be 25+ miles, so the girls decided to use a fast-forward and skip the first section. It was also an early wake-up call to catch low ride at the 8 to 10 mile mark, which made it even less attractive.

I rose around 5:30 AM and left at 6:10 AM. It was a quiet walk through Cape Kiwanda, winding my way down to the 101. 

I snapped a few pictures of the Nestucca River as I walked by, mostly because we really hadn’t seen any large rivers up to this point. Otherwise the scenery was nice but unremarkable.

From the time I started, I worried that I wouldn’t get down to beach fast enough to catch the tide, so I was moving as fast as I could without running. Probably too fast in retrospect as it took a toll on my feet and body to chew up all those road miles.

At the 7 mile point, I found Winema Road and turned toward the beach.

When I got down to the water, I was pleased to see a wide section of sand to walk on and a clear path for the next 3 miles. There was one point (at 8.68 miles for me) where I could see how it might be challenging to get through at high tide but thankfully, that wasn’t now.

In the distance, I could see what I thought was Proposal Rock. I’d never seen a picture so I didn’t really know what to expect. Even as I walked closer, it looked like another cape.

It wasnt until I was nearly upon it that I could tell that it was a very large and separate island. 

Proposal Rock supposedly got its name due to a 19th-century legend telling of a local sailor named Charley Gage proposing to his lady love there. It sounds like many couples have followed in their footsteps since. 

The island was quite different from all the other “rocks” we’d seen along the coast because it was green and covered with plants and trees. There was actually a narrow path that led to the top of it where I could see people climbing up. On any other day, I would have tried it but not with this pack and not with the miles I had left.

The water you can see on the left side of my picture is Neskowin Creek. I couldn’t cross it but I was able to follow it east to Hawk Creek where I turned north and found a short trail that led to town.

Neskowin to Cascade Head

The girls were taking a bus from Lincoln City down to the town of Neskowin. I had a little time to kill so I grabbed some coffee and an  English muffin at the Hawk Creek Cafe.

From Neskowin, we were back on the highway.

Which led through the Siuslaw National Forest.

Occasionally we’d see trees along the roadside covered in moss.

The highway led up and over Cascade Head. At one point there was a trail from the north end of the forest but it had been abandoned a while back due to landslides. As walked along the 101, we were looking to find gravel road 1861 which would take us through the experimental forest. When we got there, however, the road was closed until mid-summer. Damn!

So it was back on the highway.

Down to Lincoln City

Past Cascade Head, we crossed the Salmon River as it ran out to the ocean.

The need to cross the Salmon is one reason we weren’t closer to the coast. Without a highway bridge, we’d need a boat to cross.

Eventually, we were able to return to the beach as we approached the north end of Lincoln City.

In some places, the path off the beach into town required a climb up a tall concrete staircase. As we walked by, we hoped that our exit was a little shorter.

Our original plan was to camp in Devil’s Lake State Park but we called an audible mid-day and booked a hotel instead. Everyone on the team was road-weary so we decided we needed real beds and showers for the night.

Day 7 mileage was 23.8 with 1,270 feet of elevation. Total distance to this point — 124.6 miles.

Click HERE for a link to the Strava map.

OCT | Day 6 | Cape Lookout to Cape Kiwanda

Cape Lookout

The rain was steady overnight but it let up briefly in the morning as we made our breakfast. Dark clouds loomed in this distance, however, so we put on our full rain gear to start the day.
 
As we left the campground, we chatted with the Ranger and he suggested we try the North Trail to get up and over the cape. My directions had similar, so we pulled up our hoods and set out to find the trail
 

Voila! And an OCT badge as well. Bonus! Those little guys have been a little scarce on some parts of our journey, so we’ve often just had to rely maps or other directions to find our way. Seeing the “official” marker was reassuring.

One we were on the North Trail, the rain started coming down. Thankfully, we had tree cover to deflect some of the raindrops but we got pretty soaked as we moved along.

The forest provided plenty of wonderful sights, including an “A-Frame” tree we could walk through.

We also saw our second long cable-suspension bridge of the week. Unfortunately, I slipped at the beginning of this one and picked up a nice bruise on the underside of my arm as I caught myself. Better than falling on my ass!

Walking through the forest, it often felt like we were passing through a cloud as it moved over the cape.

I don’t have any good pictures to share but there were times we were literally walking up a rushing river as we climbed up some of the trails. Needless to say, we were all drenched. But our jackets and raincovers were working perfectly. Water dripping off the outside but perfectly dry inside.

After a couple of miles, we reached the top. And another badge. We were on a roll today!

At that point, we could take the South Trail down to the beach and around to Sand Lake. That would mean we’d have to cross it, though, which we decided not to attempt. Supposedly, it was possible at very low tide but most descriptions sound iffy to me. We found out later that our caution was right on track.

Around Sand Lake

The rain continued as we started down Cape Lookout Road. Thankfully, we only saw a few cars and had mostly wide shoulders to walk on.

We eventually walked out of Cape Lookout park and turned south on to Sand Lake Road. Here, we started to see more houses and farms.

When we started the day, we were concerned that are food supplies were getting a little low and we didn’t see any stores along our path, at least until the end of the day. As we neared lunch time, though, look what appeared on the side of the road. Hot Pockets and microwave burritos for everyone!

While I was wolfing down my lunch inside the store, I had a nice conversation with Tammy, who was minding the shop. Her parents owned the place and she had been working behind the counter for 33 years. She didn’t look much older than we were, so she’d clearly spent most of her life there. I asked about Sand Lake and she warned that there had only been ONCE in her lifetime that the water had been low enough to safely cross. At other times, even at lowest tide, it was quite dangerous and should be avoided. Good tip. Glad we came the way that we did.

Lunch safely in our belly, we shouldered our packs and started down the road.

At this point, we were still in Tillamook County, so I stopped to have a quick chat with some more of the locals. These fine creatures were critical employees in the county’s famous cheese production.

After a while, the rain clouds passed and blue skies emerged.

We continued south until we were completely around Sand Lake, then found our way back to the beach.

Sand Lake to Cape Kiwanda

After nearly 6 days of walking, we reached our first big milestone — 100 miles! One of the benefits of traveling on the beach is that it makes a handy “message board” for broadcasting big events.

Our destination for the night was Cape Kiwanda but we had to scale an enormous sand dune to get there. This picture doesn’t truly convey how tall this dune was. I had to take a panorama photo to capture it all.

As we attempted to scale this sand mountain, we were suddenly thankful for all the rain as it made the sand tacky and easier to climb. Had that sand been dry and powdery, I think I’d still be working my way up it.

Here we are about a third of the way up.

And here we are nearing the top. You can see how far away the ocean is.

After cresting the dune, I thought we’d drop right into Cape Kiwanda but we had a little further to go.

Camp for the night was a cozy little yurt at the Cape Kiwanda RV Resort. 

Beer:30 included a nice FivePine Chocolate Porter from Three Creeks Brewing.

Day 6 mileage was 15 with 1,324 feet of climbing. Total distance walked to this point — 100.8 miles

OCT | Day 5 | Barview Jetty to Cape Lookout

Here Comes The Rain

Overnight, as we slept in our cabin at the Barview Jetty campground, the rains came. This, of course, meant we were going to get drenched over the next few days. Unfortunately, it also meant that we were going to have to improvise our route that day.

Plan A was to walk down to the Garibaldi Marina and hire a boat to take us across Tillabook Bay. From there, we could walk down Bayocean Spit to reach Cape Meares. Due to the storm, though, there was a small craft advisory for the entire coast. We called the marina and no boats were going out. Obviously, we had to find another way.

We could walk an extra 18 miles to get around the bay but we’d be exhausted before we even reached the cape. Instead, we’d have to call a taxi or take a bus. Unfortunately, there were no taxis that would come out to the campground to pick us up. We decided to take a bus to Tillamook and re-evaluate our options from there. So we packed up our stuff and walked to the bus stop.

That’s where our luck turned. While waiting for the bus, our resident hitchhiking expert, Jill, decided to take matters into her own hands. She hit paydirt when a Good Samaritan named Warren drove by in his blue van.

Warren had no idea where Cape Meares was but was traveling down the coast himself and would gladly take us there if we’d show him the way. He seemed genuine so we piled into his van and took off.

By the time we drove around the bay and back out to the beach north of Cape Meares, the rain was steady and the wind was picking up. Warren dropped us where we asked and wished us good luck. As we shuffled away, I think he was surprised we didn’t ask for a ride all the way to the end. Were we really going to hike over the cape in this storm?

Over Cape Meares

Weather be damned, we headed south, pushing through the driving rain and gusting winds. Thankfully, conditions improved a bit as we moved along but I then started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to find the trail we needed. I could see it on the map but there was no guarantee the tides would allow us to get to it.

There were a few obstacles in our path. As you can see below, we had to dust off our “slippery rock scaling” skills to get past them.

Here’s another view from the top.

Behind that, we had a river to cross.

And mud walls to scale. But eventually, we found the way up to the trail, even if it took a bit of scrambling.

On top of the bluff, our prospects seemed a lot brighter. With no other real way to get around the cape, the trail was our only real option.

We dove into the forest and climbed to the top of the trail.

Cape Meares to Netarts

Once at the top, we had a choice. We could take a quick detour and follow the Lighthouse trail around the cape to see the famous Octopus Tree. Or we could keep on our OCT track. With everyone drenched to the bone and tired, we decided to head down the road.

Looking back, we could see that the ocean wasn’t any calmer on this side of Cape Meares than it was on the oher.

The road led to Oceanside where we returned to the beach.

We walked down to the town of Netarts where we grabbed a late lunch at the Upstairs Bar and Grill. The Sunriver Viscous IPA looked pretty good at that point, so suddenly is was Beer:30 as well.

Netarts to Cape Lookout

From Netarts, we had to get around the bay and into Cape Lookout State Park where we were spending the night.

The rain visited us on and off while we shuffled down the road.

But eventually the sun came out and we arrived at Cape Lookout.

Day 5 mileage was 13.3 with 887 feet of climbing (over Cape Meares). Total distance to Cape Lookout — 85.8 miles.

Click HERE for the Strava link, if you’re interested.

OCT | Day 4 | Nehalem to Barview Jetty

Nehalem Spit

After the big hike yesterday, I was ready for a recovery day. We rose at a more normal time, made coffee and oatmeal (without dumping it all over the deck), and packed our things. By 9 AM, we were heading for the beach.

Over the last three days, we’d seen plenty of horse tracks in the sand but for the first time we actually saw someone riding.

We were heading south on the Nehalem Spit, which eventually ran out. At this point, our only option was to wave a boat over from the Jetty Fishery to come get us. We couldn’t see them from the ocean side, though, so we had to climb over the dunes to get to the other side of the spit.

Just over the dunes, we found an immense field of wildflowers and spruce trees that smelled like Christmas as we walked by.

On the eastern side of the spit, we could see the Jetty Fishery across the bay.

We hoped that we could just wave our arms and a boat would appear. Not so much. We had to do it the old-fashioned way and call them on our cellphone to come get us.

Somehow, the boat driver squeezed all five us (and our packs) into his craft. When we got to the other side, his buddies on the dock commented that he was a little nuts for trying it but we appreciated the effort to keep us together.

The tattered pirate flag on the boat was a nice touch.

Here’s a better picture of our brave captain going to park Blackbeard’s ship.

Once we were at the fishery, we grabbed a few snacks and Tillamook ice cream. Since it was sort of a “rest” day, I snagged a recovery beverage.

Rockaway Beach

From the Jetty Fishery, we had to walk about 6 miles to get to Rockaway Beach. After all the beaches, forests, and highways, it was time for some railroad tracks!

These tracks were abandoned. Once we got to Rockaway Beach, we had to walk alongside to avoid the train.

In Rockaway Beach, we ate at a great little diner called Grumpy’s Cafe. Like many of the places we’ve gone to this week, they looked at us a little sideways when we first walked up but eventually we became the talk of the restaurant. We met several nice people, including Joe who gave us nice tips for places further down our path.

After lunch, we were back on the road and eventually the beach.

While the beach was mostly long stretches of sand, there were often little “rivers” that crossed our paths. Most of these we could step right over but at times we had to get more creative. Too often, this meant that I was ending up with at least one shoe immersed. The others were typically more coordinated than me.

Barview Jetty

After a few more miles, the beach ended at the north jetty of Tillamook Bay. Fortunately, our campground was nearby in Barview Jetty Park. Rain was threatening, so a nice cabin to put up our weary feet sounded really great.

The timing was perfect since it was Beer:30.

Day 4 mileage was 11.71. Total miles — 72.5 miles to that point.

There’s steady rain in the forecast for the next several days. Time to see how well our wet weather gear works.

OCT | Day 3 | Cannon Beach to Nehalem

Cannon Beach to Arch Cape

We had an very early start today as we crawled out of our sleeping bags at 3 AM. We had to catch low tide at 5:21 AM to get around three points, one that was nearly 5 miles away. So the tents came down, our packs refilled, and we marched back through town to the beach.

At high tide, Haystack Rock is quite a distance away from the beach and surrounded by 6 feet of water. With the tide fully we could walk right up to it. We didn’t linger though as we had places to be.

We reached Silver Point first and could see how our path would be fully underwater if we waited. It was a surreal experience to walk the beach at that time, with the mist hanging in the air, and the darkness slowly fading away.

As we cleared our first “gate,” we grew more confident that we would make it all the way through and started to explore more. Just past Silver Point is a very large rock called Jockey Cap that Jill and I walked out to. Christy took this picture where you can see us little ants.

And here we are closer. It felt like the deep, dark ocean was right behind the rock, so we manuevered carefully, taking our pictures, then scrambling back to the others.

Here’s a close-up of the side of the rock with all the sea life clinging to it.

Back with the group, we hustled around Humbug Point, then worked our way down to Hug Point.

Supposedly, they used to drive wagons and stagecoaches around Hug Point, which made more sense as we neared the landing and crossed. 

 

There were a few spots where I’m not sure I’d have driven a wagon but perhaps it was wider back then.

Once we got past Hug Point, it was a couple miles further before the beach ran out at Arch Cape. Here, we scaled the dunes and into town. Like clockwork, we found a sign reassuring us that we were headed in the right direction.

Oswald State Park

At this point, the girls decided that they’d had enough for the day and planned to take a taxi to our camp that night. I wanted to keep going, so they took some of the heavier items I was carrying and sent me on my way to climb over Arch Cape.
After a short walk through the neighborhood, I turned the corner and was greeted by one of the coolest bridges I’ve ever seen. It was a suspension bridge that rocked and swayed a bit as I crossed — a perfect gateway into the forest.
 
 
The trail would take me over Arch Cape and around Cape Falcon. The forest was similar to one at Tillamook Head but much more rugged. I started to climb immediately after I crossed the bridge and fought my way though for the next several miles. The scenery was incredible but the trail was very challenging.
 
 
In many places, the trees and bushes have so encroached the trail that it would’ve been impossible for two people to walk side-by-side. In other places, enormous trees had fallen across the trail and I had to crawl underneath on my hands and knees to get through with my pack.
 
 
After a couple hours, I made it through the woods and was rewarded with some great views.
 
 
As I headed south through Oswald State Park, the trail was obvious in most places. At one point though I screwed up and suddenly popped out on the 101 having no clue where I was. And no cell service. Wonderful. 
 
Eventually, I figured it out but earned myself a mile of highway walking as penance for my sins.
 
 
And whew! I’m back in business.
 

Neahkahnie Mountain

Back on the trail, I started the climb up to Neahkahnie Mountain. An endless sea of green filled my view up the long steep switchbacks.

The trail got narrow in places as the flowers multiplied. The fragrance filled the air from Queen Anne’s Lace and a purple flower I didn’t know.

After climbing a mile or more, I ran into a couple of hikers who warned me that the trail ahead had “vanished” due to erosion or some other mishap. They said it was impassable and turned around. Undeterred, I kept on walking. 

Then, I ran into a second group who repeated the warning. They said I could try it myself but they didn’t think anyone was getting to the top that way. Crap. I pondered my fate for a moment, then turned around. More highway walking for me it seemed.

At least the views were nice.

Down the mountain I went, passing into Manzanita. I called Rhonda to see if they’d made it to camp. They were sitting in the grass, enjoying the afternoon. It was Beer:30 and they had my growler waiting for me. Music for tired ears.

My legs and feet were thrashed at this point but I picked up the pace and hustled through town to Nehalem State Park. Feet don’t fail me now!

And, finally, I rolled my tired carcass into camp. We rented a yurt for the night, which looked a lot more spacious than I was expecting. And a nice patio for cooking. Check out Jill’s blog to see how that went — https://orcotrail2017.wordpress.com.

 Day 3 mileage was 24.1 miles with 2,760 feet of climbing. Took me 11 hours.

Where the heck is that growler?!!

OCT | Day 2 | Seaside to Cannon Beach

Tillamook Head

We started the day with breakfast and showers at the Hi-Tide Oceanfront Inn. This was to be our last hotel for a while so we took advantage as much as we could. Then it was back to the beach.

Looming ahead was Tillamook Head. We had seen it in front of us for most of the day before, growing closer and closer. We expected this day to be much different than the previous as we attempted our first real Oregon trails.

It was only a mile down the beach before it ended. We scrambled up the cobbles and into the neighborhood.

Thankfully, we only had a short stretch up the road before coming to the trailhead. It felt like we were entering a completely new world as we crossed the bridge and entered the forest.

And we started to climb. We knew were in for some elevation today but there was virtually no warm-up. We crossed the threshold into the trees then started up.

Even with the big climb, the team was in high spirits. Everyone was glad to be off the beach for a while.

The trail was very muddy. We had a steady stream of reminders of how much it rains here and how little sun sneaks through to dry out the forest floor. We were constantly navigating in and around stretches of sticky mud.

At the top of Tillamook Head is a Hiker/Biker Camp that’s a popular stopping point. Our schedule had us going quite a bit further today so we didn’t camp. It made a great lunch spot instead.

This is where we caught up to a fellow group of hikers that Jill first found on Instagram. They started a couple days ahead of us but were taking a more leisurely pace. We met Janey, her two kids, Asia and Ezra, and Asia’s fiancee, Camden. Funny enough, they were from Cottonwood, in Arizona. Asia and Ezra live in Portland now but Janey runs an shop in Jerome. I snapped a photo of Asia and Camden and sent it to our Azia back in Phoenix. Small world moment.

 We finished lunch and climbed back down the trail. We had a couple miles down to Indian Beach and the scenery didn’t disappoint. 

At Indian Beach, we got our first bad news. The trail to Ecola Point was immpassable due to winter rain damage so the rangers had closed it. 

That was unfortunate. Even more so because our detour was a long climb up an asphalt road that felt like we were scaling Everest. Especially on legs that were still recovering from the previous day.

At Ecola Point, we had a choice. Either continue down the park road into town or climb down to Crescent Beach and try to get around Chapman Point. It was nearly low tide, so we had chance. At the junction, we met a hiker coming up from the beach who said we could make it. More importantly, he said there were caves down there. He had me at caves.

We had to descend a ways to get down to the beach. Here’s a photo looking back up.

At the beach, I switched to my water shoes as I expected to get wet navigating around the point. The others weren’t so sure and elected to make a “game time” decision once we got there.

Here’s a better picture of Chapman Point. You can see that there’s clearly water in the gap. As we walked up to it, I hoped it would be shallow or maybe even dry as the tide receded.

When we got closer, the water was unfortunately deeper than expected. I wish I had a better picture but I completely neglected camera duty as I tried to figure out a way around. What you cannot see above is a small tunnel at the base of the rock that looked like it might work. In fact, we ran into a nice couple there, Kathryn and Dave, that were eyeing the same thing. Kathryn even changed clothes to see if she could make it through. She succeeded. But watching her manuever, on hands and knees at times, to get through the cave convinced me that we couldn’t really duplicate her feat with our packs. Disappointed, we reversed course and climbed back up to the top of the hill.

Cannon Beach

Once at the top, we made our way back to Ecola Park Road and down into Cannon Beach. Dinner (and Beer:30) was at Pelican Brewing.

After dinner, we shuffled our way to our campsite. Rhonda booked us a great little place called Wrights for Camping. This was our first night in tents, so thankfully we got there with plenty of daylight left to get everything set up.

Day 2 mileage was 15.2 with 2,132 feet of climbing. Even with the ascents, it felt easier than our first day. Spending a lot of the day walking on soft forest floor made a big difference. 

We had a very early wake-up call the next morning, so everyone went to bed as soon as they could. Big miles in front of us tomorrow.

 

OCT | Day 1 | Fort Stevens to Seaside

On paper, Day 1 was supposed to be “easy.” Sure, it was 20 miles. But all we had to do was walk down the beach. No climbing. No complicated route to follow. Nothing too crazy. 

Damn, that was a hard!

We spent the night in Astoria at the Holiday Inn Express. Great little hotel. We rose early, ate some breakfast, returned our rental car from the day before and called a cab to take us to Fort Stevens. I wasn’t entirely sure where the official start was but our driver, Cary, seemed to know where she was going so we let her do her job. When we got to the end of the park and stopped in a parking lot, I looked at the map, and it didn’t seem like we were far enough north. I asked whether she could take us further. She said, “Oh, you want to go to the very end.” Yes, we do. So we headed down to the road a bit further. Ok, this seemed right. We piled out of the van and instantly got attacked by a swarm of enormous man-eating mosquitos. Run for your lives! Somehow, we got the cab driver paid, everyone took a last bathroom break and we hurried to the beach. Thankfully, the mosquitos didn’t follow.

Since the beach was just a stretch in the sand in the middle of nowhere, I grabbed a large stick and drew us a start line. Now, we were ready. Someone proclaimed that the last person to California was buying the beer. And we were off!

Walking on the sand wasn’t bad. It was a little harder to walk on than I imagined but not terrible. Christy and Miranda had gators on their shoes so they weren’t picking up a lot of sand. Jill seemed immune too but Rhonda and I were taking on a fair amount. This would be common theme throughout the day. Walk, fill your shoes with sand, stop, empty them out. 

After walking for a little while, I started to get the sinking feeling that we hadn’t started where we were supposed to. And after a couple of miles, we made it to the South Jetty, finding the same parking lot that we had been at before. With a nice Oregon Coast Trail sign that told us exactly where the start was. Dooh! We had walked around the entire point to get from “our” start line to the “real” start line. Wonderful. 

Hopefully this wasn’t a sign of how good my navigation was going to be for the rest of the journey. 

Even after I made us walk an extra 2+ miles, everyone was in good spirits though. We took a few pictures at the “real” start, then headed down the beach. 

The rest of the day was a lot of blue sky, ocean waves, and sand. 16 miles from the official start to Gearhart. The weather was beautiful, which made for pleasant walking. As the miles accumulated, though, we could feel our packs getting heavier, our hips getting tired and feet starting to hurt. Many stops were made and the Moleskin started to come out. We kept on moving though. Steadily, step by step, down the beach.

At the 4 mile point, we made the obligatory stop at the Peter Iredale shipwreck. According to our cab driver, the winter weather had exposed more of the ship than normal. It was cool to see.

And then, more beach. And more beach. I will say that after 16 miles of that, I was ready to be done. Thankfully, the sand was hard-packed and easy to walk on, but after several hours of it, I was ready for something different.

We finally left the beach when we reached Gearhart. We scrambled up the dunes, made our way across a large field and then suddenly we were back in civilization.

Gearhart was a cute little town. We walked through nice little neighborhood on the way up to the highway.

By this point in the journey, the team was mostly a herd of zombies, shambling along the road, hoping that the end was near. From Gearhart, we had another 3 miles to get to Seaside. We were walking along the shoulder of the 101, which wasn’t super pleasant but it was better than more sand.

Finally, we made it to Seaside. More imortantly, we made it to Seaside Brewing. Dinner and beers made everyone feel a lot better, although the damage was certainly done. Lots of achy bodies and sore feet as we shuffled away from the brewery to go find our hotel for the night.

Day 1 mileage was 21.6. Great first day. Tomorrow should be interesting as we do our first climbing. 

 

 

OCT | Day 0 | Phoenix to Astoria

After months of planning, weeks of preparation, and lots of nervous energy, the big day was finally here. Oregon, here we come, ready or not!

Our Southwest flight from Phoenix was largely uneventful. There was some minor maintenance drama that put us an hour behind schedule but we still got to Portland a little after noon. While we were waiting to leave, I suddenly realized that every flight I’ve taken this year has been for fun rather than for work, which is amazing. That hasn’t happened in nearly 30 years. Wow.

We rented a car at the airport then headed downtown to grab some lunch and hit up the local REI. After wolfing down a cheeseburger and a beer at the On Deck sports bar, we grabbed fuel for our camp stoves then started west to Astoria. That two hour drive is one of the prettiest you’ll do anywhere and provided a nice warm-up to the scenery we’d be seeing over the next three weeks. We drove through Seaside on the way, which was a little odd considering we’ll be hiking back to it tomorrow. Nice little preview, I suppose.

Once we got to Astoria, I was looking forward to going to the Rogue Ales Public House but that proved to be a bit of a disappointment. The beers were good but the service was iffy and the place a bit run-down and disorganized. Thankfully, the Astoria beer scene redeemed itself later when we went to the Fort George Brewery and Public House. 

Fort George was outstanding. Great beers, beautiful space, nice people and a fun atmosphere. We ate dinner but would have stayed a lot longer if we didn’t have to get up the next day and hike 20 miles. We’ll definitely go back there if we’re ever in Astoria again.

This far north the sun goes down quite late so I got some very nice sunset photos at 9 PM at night. With the ocean to our right over the next 400 miles, I’m guessing we’ll get a few more shots like these.

Until tomorrow when the real fun begins!

OCT | One Week To Go

@#%*! is gettin’ real now!

This time next week, we ought to be well into the first day of our big trip down the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT). All the prep work will be over (and hopefully done). All the little details we’ve sweated over the last few months probably won’t matter as much as the next mile in front of us. And ideally I’m keeping up with my promise to take lots of pictures and blog every day. Time will tell.

Dozens of friends have asked what the heck we’re doing and truthfully I’ve found it hard to put into simple terms. We’re basically walking from Washington to California, following the coast of Oregon. We start in Fort Stevens State Park (west of Astoria) and finish in Crissy Park State Park on the California border. I’ve included some stats later in this post but the short version is that we have 22 days to cover 382-425 miles, depending on the route we ultimately choose. We’ve gone back and forth on the best label for what we’re doing. It’s certainly not a race. We’re either thru-hiking, end-to-end hiking, walking or backpacking. In all cases, our goal is to complete the whole thing entirely on foot. Except for the places we have to ferry across rivers and estuaries.

The OCT isn’t as well known or as long as the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) or AT (Appalachian Trail) but we’re expecting it to be quite a challenge regardless. For us, the OCT is an adventure that a group of relatively “normal” folks with jobs and families could attempt without taking a 6-month sabbatical. I have enormous respect for the brave souls that attempt those other cross-country adventures. Maybe after this, we’ll be next in line. Or you might find all my camping gear on eBay! Again, time will tell.

Below, you’ll see what our dining room table looks like as we assemble all the little bits and pieces that’ll go into our packs. Trust me, that’s not everything. I’ve got my sleeping bag and tent slung across the couch just off-camera. And no food yet. But it all fits in my  pack at around 30 pounds, which is comfortable for me, mule that I am.

 I’ve included some bits of trivia about our journey below. It’ll be interesting to compare these to what actually happens.

  • Days hiking = 22
  • Total miles (official) = 382
  • Average per day = 17+ miles
  • Longest day = 25 miles
  • Shortest day = 10 miles
  • Average June precipitation = 6-13 days (2-3 inches)
  • Average temps = 61-67° F (High) 48-51° F (Low)
  • Days with beer = All of them! (hopefully)
 
Yes, I’ll be trying to hit every independent brewery in sight and carrying a small growler for camp each night. Depending on where we are, the OCT travels through many towns along the way, so we’re not expecting to ever be far from provisions. But time will tell how that really goes. 
 
God willing, my next post should be Day 0 as we fly to Portland and drive to Astoria before starting the next day. Of course, we could come to our senses before then. That’s never actually happened before. But it could. You’ll just have to wait and see.
 
Cheers!