November 4, 2014

Day #2 and #3: Cape Lookout to Beverly Beach

Do not be angry with the rain; 
it simply does not know how to fall upwards.
 - Vladimir Nabokov

Day #2

Lincoln City Beach Houses
I woke up soaked. Like really soaked. Tent, sleeping bag, clothes, backpack, everything and Emy, despite her waterproof tent, didn't fare much better. Our packs began weighing about 25lbs each but with all those soaking wet supplies they felt like we'd added stones. After some trail mix (neither of us had much of an apatite) we hit the road again and hiked two miles uphill and then another two miles down. I thought I was going to pass out, but we kept on trucking and by mile two we'd begun discussing hip displaysia (at the time it seemed like the only logical explanation for the extreme pain in my hip joints).

Emy's feet were really hurting her but our thumbs weren't stopping anyone until finally, past the sand dunes and after a long break to inspect blisters, we were rescued by a very nice older couple from Portland. He was an ex marine and she was a former teacher and they had a very big van. To continue the way we'd meant to go this very nice couple would have only driven us about 1/2 mile, but they were on their way to Cloverdale Oregon for lunch, about 17 miles south east. We decided to gamble on better hitchhiking via rt 101 and 30 minutes later we were standing in a small farming town.

Our original intention might have been to hitch, but on our way out of town we spotted, nailed to a telephone pole near the post office, a bus schedule. It went all the way to Lincoln City, a place I'd spent a lot of time in when I lived in Newport Oregon seven years ago, and I was sure things would look up if we could only get to that point. The bus was only an hour away and it cost a paltry $2 each for us to ride 20 miles in style.

Here it was only the second day and we already had to have a discussion about a possible hotel room. There isn't much camping near Lincoln City at this time of year, but that concern was secondary to the state of our water saturated gear. Emy's feet were blistering and both our shoes were soaked. When you're walking all day your feet have to be ok so once in the "city" (it's really just a big town) we walked to the Econo Lodge and got ourselves a room.

We emptied everything out of our backpacks and laid them on every surface we could find. Chairs, hangers, doors, the TV. Everything was covered in wet gear and the place smelled like a kennel after a rain storm. We left it, walked to The Old Oregon Tavern for some beers, then meandered back for an amazing night's sleep.

Day #3

The Bay at Depoe Bay
The Lincoln City Beach was only 1.5 miles long, but with a strong headwind it took us over an hour
to walk it with our now dry backpacks. Once at the jetty we started hitching the highway portion and got picked up by an older gentleman (maybe 80) named Yune. Yune is from South Africa and in the 1960s he hitched all the way from London to Singapore. It took him 9 months and makes him one of the coolest hitchers I've ever met. 

Yune dropped us in Depoe Bay, a great little town on the ocean with a wonderful boardwalk and lots of personality. Emy and I dropped into Pirate Coffee Company, where I use to work, to visit Barry the owner and have a Spicy Wench (Chai + Espresso = Awesome!). We then walked to Gracie's Sea Hag, a great little bar which my sister use to work at and is kind of a destination spot in that area. We got beers and waited for a bus to take us to Beverly State Park.

Wow we covered a lot of ground each day!

The bus to Beverly Beach State Park was $2 and it dropped us off right at the entrance. Although the weather had been nice in Depoe Bay it seemed to be turning so we set up our tents quickly and went for a walk.
Cool Trees on Beverly Beach

That night I went to bed early, mainly because the forcast called for rain and I wanted to get at least some rest, uncertain if it had been the tent or my set up of the tent that had caused my wet night at Cape Lookout.

It was the tent.

Day #1: First Day Disasters

“If I saw you hitchhiking, I’d smile and return your thumb’s up, just for you doing such a great job of being a positive roadside influence.”
― Jarod Kintz
So on October 17th Pam, who didn't want to see us begin our journey hiking over some huge coastal mountain, drove us down the road to Rockaway Beach. Emy and I shouldered our packs, about 25lbs each, leaned into the wind, which was blowing directly at us, and began trudging down the beautiful (if slightly damp and cloudy) beach.

We loved it! Even when we had to cross our first little river and Emy got soaked in the tide, and three miles later we were at the jetty.

Ah, the jetty.

Now there really isn't a whole lot published about the Oregon Coast Trail, but we did find a short ebook which said we had to call a fishery for a ride across said jetty. Apparently we glazed over the part where it said "Call 24 hours in advance" so, quick to make decisions in the intermittent rain, we decided to hitchhike towards the fishery in town. Emy had never hitchhiked before but we were quickly picked up by five very nice Mexican guys in a pickup out for a day of fishing. They were great, offering us a beer as soon as we got in, and drove us right around the jetty to the town of Tillimuck about 8 miles away where our guide book said we could pick the trail back up.

A wet walk
13 miles. 13 miles in the rain. 13 miles in the rain and on a main road with no shoulder. Our thumbs stayed out but with the rain coming down I figure that either people couldn't see out honest faces or they didn't want two drowned rats climbing into their car. Pavement is not the same as sand or even dirt hiking trail. It hurts! And we were wet and Emy's shoes were still soaked from the tide and now water pooled on the top of her foot at each step. Despite all of these first day obstacles we climbed the mountain on Whiskey Creek Road laughing so hard it became difficult to walk.

The hysterics didn't pass until we were at Cape Lookout State Park and trying to find the hiker biker camping area ($5 each). By then everything hurt, the rain was coming sideways, and we still needed to set up our tents. We ended up sitting in the women's restroom, the only semi dry place in our world, for nearly an hour, eating trail mix and wringing out our socks before venturing back out into the rain.

Now, Emy, the most helpful and accommodating girl I know, lent me her bivy for this trip. A bivy, or "the coffin" as she calls it, is a supper narrow tent that really just has room for one person laying flat, not even a backpack will really fit. I set it up, staked it down, climbed in soaking wet and got into my new sleeping bag.

It was maybe 20 minutes later that I realized I was actually becoming wetter. My first thought was that I had set up the tent wrong, maybe I let too much rain in while I was setting up, maybe the wind was strong enough to blow rain around the rain fly. I woke up many times that night, each time feeling the puddle I was laying in grow. I will say that my sleeping bag was amazing, keeping me warm and pretty dry (the only water got in through the zipper), but really it could only do so much. The hiker biker site was up against the ocean which, at any other time would have been amazing, but that night it sounded like the world was ending.

Leaving Alaska

Portland, Oregon won't build a mile of road without a mile of bike path. You can commute there, even with that weather, all the time.
- Lance Armstrong
It's been a while since my last post, not because nothings been happening but because so much has been happening that I just haven't had time to stop and recount it all. Even my journals have become bullet points rather than fully formulated thoughts, something I scribble on the floor of my tent under the fading light of a headlamp. That being said, this update may be in multiple parts.

The Mountains Over Anchorage
But now I have time to sit here with that journal, safe and sound and back in the big city. The fire alarm in my hostel went off at 5am which gave me a wonderful excuse to get up and get writing, and sometimes that's what it takes.

On October 1st I left the mighty Yukon River of Alaska after five months in the interior. It was a memorable experience living with eight other employees in the middle of nowhere and I can't say I regret any of it. My mother use to say about albums and cookbooks that if you get just one really good recipe/song out of it than the purchase was worth while. I think that goes for experiences and friends too and I got a few really good friends out of the deal. So I left the river and with two of those now good friends headed to Anchorage for a few days. We saw the sights, rented a car and visited Seward (which is beautiful and highly recommended), and then flew south to Seattle where I stayed at the Green Tortuous, a great Hostel right downtown, which my friend Emy visited family while promising to meet in Seaside Oregon the following week.

Lan Su Gardens
Seattle was cool, some nice little parks and their Museum of Art [SAM] (my litmus test for most cities) was pretty good if slightly overpriced for what they offered. I was excited for their advertised Impressionist Exhibit which turned out to be one wall with only one or two noteworthy pieces, but their display of Greek art was beautiful and worth checking out. My main accomplishment in the city was to stop at the REI headquarters and buy a sleeping bag called the Cat's Meow. Why a sleeping bag, you ask? Well I was planning to hike the OCT with one of those good friends from Alaska. We figured it would take about a month from what we'd read and, while we understood that Oregon in October would be a bit soggy, we were very excited to have a whole month of camping.

After a day in the city and a day with a friend I caught the Bolt Bus heading for Portland. I'd never used Bolt before but it cost about $16 which is hard to beat, and the driver was friendly and on time. 

Powell's Bookstore
Now Portland I could live in. The city itself is full of dense parks, tall trees, statuary (including the second largest bronze statue in America), and they have an amazing art museum [PMA]. I wandered around for hours eating from food carts, getting lost in Powell's Bookstore, strolling through the Lan Su Chinese Gardens and generally having an awesome time. I stayed in a beautiful little neighborhood outside the city with my cousin Pheobe and her husband who had moved there from San Francisco a few years earlier and agreed that Portland was just as awesome as I'd believed. 

Pheobe's friend Pam has a house in Cannon Beach and offered to drive me to the coast, so a few days later we were on the road, bumping along in her pickup without much of a plan for what I would do once I got there. Staying in Pam's little cabin was a great start to the trip and the following day we drove to Seaside to pick Emy up at the Seaside International Hostel, which she tells me was very pleasant. We got a night, one wonderful night at Pam's before heading south, and it wasn't that we didn't understand what we were getting into, but there is a difference between knowing something and knowing something

To Be Continued...