Somewhere in the Laurentian mountains, a summer house in front of a lake witness a pontoon boat going for a ride. On this boat, a young boy of 3 or 4years old ride along with his parents, brother and sister, an uncle and an auntie. This wonderful auntie have a brilliant idea for the young boy to learn swimming. She put a life jacket to him, who cares that doesn’t fit right, take him and throw him in the middle of the lake where they had stopped. The life jacket respect his law of buoyancy by popping up over the head of the kid. It could have respect his law of floatation but the hands of the boy stop it.
This boy, now a man, with the scar of the trauma of not being able to touch bottom or doing anything else, try to cross the arm of Sand Lake that empty in the ocean. The crossing can only be done at low tide but still the water come at waist deep. The crossing is render difficult by the sand lay at the bottom that make steps sink in by 2inches and the water is not clear that makes every steps a guessing game.
The boy was me and every time steps in a deeper hole was sending a rush of adrenaline. I was certainly not comfortable at the idea of crossing but the other option was a long 6 or 7miles detour by the road. I kept my panic, that was want to rush through, at bay and succeed to cross like my three other companions.
That was part of the challenge I had to face yesterday on the Oregon Coast Trail. The OCT is my alternative to the snowy PCT. For less than a week, prior to be here on the OCT, I was on a winery owned by Marek in the Hidden Valley, North of Sacramento. I was helping on this farm from the program of WWOOF where, in exchange of work, you get board and room.
Teresa, Chea and I were working a few hours a day while Marek was sleeping sometimes well pass 11am. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it will be and at the end, I didn’t receive any thanks from him.
The good thing is that he drove us at few beautiful places and in one of those outing, Teresa received a word from her friend Caroline who was looking for a hiking partner to do the Oregon Coast Trail. Teresa thought about me as I was trying to figure out what to do next.
The decision was quick; it was Sunday and she was taking the Greyhound to Astoria at 6 am on Tuesday. For myself, I had to depart from Sacramento at 230am on Tuesday morning but the advantage was that I will meet Caroline on a way to Astoria as she will be on the same bus 4hrs later after I leave Sacramento.
Teresa and Chea dropped me off at 930pm at the station. Prior the drop off, I slept an hour and will sleep only another hour in the bus in this 18hrs bus ride. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep that night.
We arrived in Portland where we had to switch bus and the second bus ride, we had the chance to chat with Leonard, the bus driver a very nice fellow. Then we got picked up by Nick. We found this room on Airbnb own by Nick and upon reservation, he gladly accepted to pick us up at the bus station to get to his place and also drive us to the trailhead of the OCT.
The two beds were inside of an old transit bus but it was comfortable enough for us. In the morning, we walked a bit around Astoria and then at 1030, Nick took us to the beginning of OCT,…well not quite but close enough. He dropped us off at the parking lot of Fort Stevens, an old military fortification that was about 3miles away of our starting point. Not a big deal, I certainly appreciate that he took the time to drive us there. My best wishes to you Nick and Leonard.
We reached first the wreck of Peter Iredale than we walked on that beach where cars are allow to drive on. The weather was greyish and it mainly remain that way since.
We walked the day barefoot.We got stopped in our progress as some military open range was going on. We waited an hour for them to give us the authorization to keep on going. The guy said we had 15min to walk the next mile where the other rows of cone was and where we can keep hiking. As we walked, as fast as we can, we could not see that row of cone. An army hummer came by and said to jump in and will drove us away. It was not 1mile but at least 3mile and it have no way we could have done it in 15min.
After the commotion, we reached our campsite close of Seaside around 5pm, our first beach camping. The wind was strong tough and we had difficulty to pitch our tent. The night was a nervewrecking one as cars was driving by, helicopter flew very low.
We made our way to Seaside under an angry sky the next morning. We stopped for hot chocolate and kept going toward Cannon Beach but the rain picked up and we had to walk through the forest of Ecola State Park to get to Cannon Beach. It rain, it rain, and it rain and the wind was so strong. Drenched we were, down we were. The phone of Caroline suddenly died and she realized that she forgot her power bank at the coffee shop back in Seaside.
We took the bus back to Seaside and found a cheap motel room. We had a chance to do laundry and take a marvellous hot shower but no miracles could be done for her phone neither to have our shoes dry neither our backpack.
The next morning we headed back to Cannon Beach and restart where we left. It was still raining and the wind still present. My right foot was in pain after two weeks off trail and the pain was growing stronger since Seaside.
The rain stopped when we were inside of the Oswald State Park but we were wadding through the mud and pushing through overgrown bushes. We had no authorized camping spot along that stretch but we found a somewhat dry spot in the forest beside a big old tree.
The next morning we reached the highway and we walked on his shoulder all the way to Manzanita. We could avoid part of it by hiking another 4miles in the forest but the idea of mud deter us. It was our first stretch of highway walk on this trail and we certainly didn’t learn to enjoy it.
We went back on the beach after some resupply and walked all the way to Barview where we met our first thru hiker Tanner and Laura. Where we came out of the beach, it was right into the state campground and it was where we camped as no camping was allow on the beach. We were only 45min off Garibaldi and it had no other camping option.
When we get at Garibaldi, we had to found a way to go across the Tillamook Bay. I had no chance to convince any fishermen to take us across as we were on Sunday at Father’s day. The Garibaldi Marina tough gave all four of us a ride across after the window clear out a bit. The ride made me nervous a bit in this tiny little boat and close of the water. My imagination was thinking about the dark deep bottom laying underneath of those ripples.
We landed safely but we had to wad through water to reach the shore which aggaravated the wetness of my shoes and chaffing was spreading its love to my left toes and the skin open up like a flower in springs oozing its lovely odorless pain. With the right foot that didn’t want to adapt back of the rhythm of the trail, having the left foot in pain made the day a limpy hoppy day almost unbearable.
After we walked on the beach for a while, we had to walk through the forest of Cape Meares where we saw the Octopus Tree; a tree that baffle scientist.
Then we were back on the road toward Oceanside where we were hoping to gind grocery. Unfortunately it was at the next town of Netarts. We had the chance to walk at least a bit on the beach before returning to the road and get our grocery.
We were late in the afternoon and we had no chance to catch a boat ride to Netarts Spit so our last option was a road walk of 5miles. With my two peg legs, I was not interested at this perspective but we had no choice as Cape Lookout was the only place to camp on this stretch. They were not interested to hitchhike but I did and I catched a ride less than 2min after I sticked my thumb out.
I got quickly to Cape Lookout State Park but I waited for them at the entrance. I met there some familiar faces from the PCT who had also abandoned the idea of the PCT for this year due to the snow.
During the night, my sleep was disturbed by the dampness of my sleeping bag, the pain in my foot and shoulders. I had no more clean clothes not even socks to change them. When I woke up I was contemplating the idea of quitting the trail. I certainly don’t give up easily but my spirit was dejected by the cloudy days, dampness, broken feet and felt also isolated by the decision process of my 3 companions.
As they were taking their times to get ready, I decided to start the day on my own and wait for them before Sand lake. It was a good decision; the walk on my own recentered me and I felt much better when we met back again. Also my right foot felt better and my left foot received a better taping job to protect my toes. I had also the chance to dry my tent and sleeping bag as the sun appeared for a fraction of time at my lunch break.
We stayed that night at the state park of Pacific City where we got pizza for dinner and we camped among bunnies.
I slept better in a drier sleeping bag but got woke up by a lovely man who decided to crank his engine boat at 6am. Thank you.
We did our laundry this morning but somehow they made a decision to take a bus to skip 5miles of road walk we had to do. I was at the laundry room when they came back with their backpack and only told me then of their plan. I still had to pack my tent and put some clothes on as i had only a pair of long john on me and I had only 10min to pack my clothes and tent in my bag before the bus arrive. I was really feeling at this point that I was not part of the equation. I made it to the bus as the bus arrived.
I had to put my clothes on the side of the road and then we went by the beach to Neskowin where we met another thru hiker. After Neskowin, it was a 4miles on Highway 101, follow by a 4.7miles on Cascade Head Trail, a gorgeous trail, to finish with another 5miles to Lincoln City where we indulged in McDonald’s.
After a quick run at the grocery store, Tanner, Laura and I, we took the taxi to the outlet while Caroline walked to our campsite.
At the outlet I scored a pair of sandal (what O hope) to help my feet walking on the beach and crossing the creek that flow to the ocean that wet my shoes so much.
Im back to the campsite where I finally rest my poor right foot that walked to much on the road today.
Im out and over.
Good night folks.