We arrived at Brookings late in the evening after an early start in Folsom. We headed straight out of town to Harris State Park ( yes named after a Scotsman). There were no camping spaces left so we walked down the beach hoping for a secluded spot on the beach and then the beach ran out! Then we sensibly fished out the new OCT bible and read that there was no other options other than a wild camp. The Day Use area closed at 10 and by 10 our tent was erected snuggly hidden down amongst the picnic benches. It was perfect.
They locked the loos though! We didn’t get in until 7am in the morning for a wee wash (amongst other things).
Then we were off, day 1.
Brookings to (not so) Secret Beach. (About 13 miles but who knows as we got lost so often ).
First impressions? It’s absolutely gorgeous! In the woods we could be walking in Scotland! Lush, green and verdant. Bracken, brambles, wild raspberries, foxgloves and purple irises. Of course the trees are exotic but so much feels familiar. Although It’s not often in Melvaig though that pelicans fly over head, or a sea lion pops it’s head up to say hello!!
The trail? It’s very poor! Very very poor. Not maintained, misleading, contradictory, no signs or those which do randomly pop up are not at junctions, have no arrows and are frankly, pretty useless. Mostly the track is ‘rabbit track’ when going through the woods and also is very ‘uppy-downy’, tough on shins, Achilles and calfs’.
Our first day was quite frustrating due to getting lost. Our book was not much help either. To be fair to the author it isn’t specifically a OCT guide but an Oregon Trails Guide and yet it does cover the Oregon Coastal Trail with a section after the ‘day hike section’ for folks like us Thru Hiking!
The mist gathered early in the morning, after our slow start and didn’t burn away until 11:30. Everything is new and beautiful and different from the PCT. We walked over creeks regularly (thus water wasn’t a problem) and managed to miss an entire beach walk (whales-head beach where are you?) due to the abysmal signposting.
The trail is essentially Day hikes with sections of trail to join these day hikes into a continuous coast trail. So far the day hikes are of reasonably quality and the ‘link trails’ are mostly very very poor. Today ,day 2 ,we had to bush whack through the ‘trail’ getting scrapped until we bled, with ripping brambles and we both had tingling skin tonight In patches (poison oak or ivy?). .
The views nearly make up for the hard-work trail. The coast so far has been spectacular, misty almost drizzly mornings building up to hot afternoons where the suns heat results in steam rising from shallow pools of sea water.
The piles and piles of driftwood have been amazing! We don’t have trees that size in Scotland never mind driftwood. White, bleached, smooth and rough, from giant ancient trees to small white rounded twigs. Oh if only I had the energy and space to fill a bag with the beautiful weathered wood!
The trail is quiet (unlike the PCT) perhaps due to Most people walking north to south unlike us. We met a total of 5 SoBos today and met fellow PCT refugees!!
Our campsite on day 1 was Secret Beach, a beautiful view from our little ledge overlooking the sandy cove and its hanging garden waterfall. I was shattered after my first day back on the trail. Asleep by 7pm,I didn’t awaken until a family noisily traipsed past our tent at 7am to forage giant mussels. The low low tide meant the mussels were exposed. 12 hours, what a part-timer!
We’ve walked from Secret Beach to Cape Sebastian today with a lot More sandy beach walking. This is very hard work when the tide is coming in and much better when it’s receding but at least, unlike the forest, you can’t really get lost (too much).
We are often Taken onto Route 101,the coastal highway. This is a fast road and lethal. We’ve walked past three stinking carcasses of Mule Deer so far and it’s only day 2. We had 2.5 miles on the hard shoulder today, at least the caber/lumber lorries were fewer (because it’s a Saturday?).
We’ve seen Mr Osprey catch an eel and also fly over us at our current campsite on Cape Sebastian carrying fish home For his fish supper! (We had a-mash potatoes and little chunks of cheddar, dinner, mmm).
I like the trail, because it’s so different from the PCT, even if it feels like harder work!