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.