Day 3. The Oregon Coastal Trail. Cape Sebastian to Humbug State Park
My feet are sore. How quickly I’ve lost my PCT conditioning despite my efforts to maintain. Walking on the hard shoulder of the 101 doesn’t help.
We had a lovely start this morning up and over Cape Sebastian, having sipped our tea in the tent watching the Osprey repeatedly fly over with all manner of fish. After which we were faced with a 5+ mile walk on the 101 highway again, so we opted to hitch into Gold Beach (named after gold was found their a few centuries ago) for a nice breakfast and phone charge.
The hitch took longer than PCT averages but eventually a gentleman took pity on us. He regaled us with stories of global warming and solar black spot research by Russians and how the next mini ice age is imminent. He’d been out early to harvesting giant muscles (which might be what they call Razor Clams) and gave some to us for the supper. We headed to Double Ds the ‘happening place ‘ in Gold Beach and it was a lovely Eggs Benedict breakfast for me and American Fry up with our favorite hash browns for Cory 😉 (Guns welcome if you keep them in their holster!!)
Then another road walk out of town and over another McCullough Bridge to the beach. The wind was fierce, the infamous north easterly, but since we saw 3+ bald eagles, it was worth it!
By late afternoon it was time to try our thumbs again, Humbug Hill our destination (Cory preferred to call it Hamburger Hill) here we would find out first Hiker Biker campsite. Ellen and Dave were our trail angels after a wee wait, phew.
Hiker Biker pitch. Only $5 per person, including a hot shower and sockets in the loos to charge our iDevices ( not forgetting clean water, picnic benches and sit down loos).
We had ramen and giant muscles for tea! A bit of protein and very juicy. Yum.
Humbug Mountain to Cape Blanco state park
We climbed out of Humbug State park and once again we broke the silk trip wires of millions of spiders, the first Hikers on the trail despite the not so early start. We were headed for a section of trail on the old 101, well above the current fast highway. We walked past more banks of sweet peas and then had a 1.5 mile road walk of the real highway before dropping onto the beach to head towards Port Orford.
Cory had planted the seed of Bagels and Cream Cheese for breakfast so morale was high. Port Orford had a lovely vibe compared to Nesika ( yesterday, think American werewolf in London or The Living Dead), the wind had picked up and we walked through town, being passed by mini south bound cyclists.
Rays Supermarket provided the bagels and cream cheese among some other delights (family size bag of Lays Crisps) and we found a piece of pavement and had brunch, then to a cafe for a coffee (Cory), smoothie (Mandy) and phone charge.
Refreshed we were ready to Tackle the 5.5 miles of beach walk into the wind. The guidebook warned that it was a hard beach. (Super soft sand). Prepared for a battle we found the going not too bad underfoot. The wind however was a different story! Cory had just remarked that at least the sand being whipped up, was only hitting our legs. Then god turned his hairdryer on full and whoosh. Our faces were sandblasted. We already had our Gortex jackets on at this stage, my Tilley Hat had wrapped itself around my neck in an effort to Evade the wind (or choke me!) and our sun creamed faces now resembled Sand sculptures of our faces! It was tough!
Eventually we got to the Elk river. Armed with my poles, Cory bravely stepped into the estuary and immediately disappeared up to his knee. Hmmm tide table check? We found a huge piece of driftwood and tried to shelter as I brought up the tide table.
High tide 14:24
Low time 19:30
Hmmm a long long wait to get over the river!
iPhone out, I brought up a map. It looked like a dirt track up the cliff. Could we cross the river further upstream and reach Cape Blanco by a different route, rather than wait until the evening to cross the river?
We thought it was worth a try as we were being battered by the wind and were slowly being buried under tiny grains of sand.
An hour later Cory thought he saw a possibility. Again armed with my poles he set off across the Elk river. At its deepest it was just over his knees and not too fast flowing.
He then came back and escorted me over the three sections of the river. The deepest point on me was up to my shorts.
Now? Hmm No trespassing. They have guns (and dogs) in Oregon. We skirted a field and headed for the track we saw on the IPhone map. We traipsed through fields and skirted farms that felt like the countryside of Perth.
After a wee break, after the mini adventure, it was already 4pm! Again we headed through another farm stead and thankfully again it looked like no one or their dog was home. Then we passed a man in his pick up, taking a break from corral building.
Cory sent me back to ask about a short cut to the campsite or was it four miles (big circular route?!). I went back and dutifully enquired about our options.
“Now where you from?”
” well let me go back and get my car and I’ll take you! My mother would sure like to meet you! She’s a Mackenzie from Scotland”
So yes, he went and collected his car. Then took us back to the house we had passed previously. His mum was surprised and delighted to meet us, the Mackenzies from the Black Isle, sheep farmers now and then and we got a lift to the Campsite!
They cursed the gorse brought over from Scotland for hedging as it had went wild in Oregon and they also had a problem with Coyotes now decimating their flock. Her mother and father still used the beach as the highway to get to Bandon.
Hiker Biker Campsite with hot showers and USB charge stations for $5 pp. Fantastic:-)
Cape Blanco to Bullards Beach Hiker
Two days of the North Easterly wind and we need a new plan. Walking south to north was proving to be no fun rather than gorgeous. Out of the wind the trail is lovely but being slowly harled with a coating of sand while battling a path forward was gruelling.
We needed to do some Research! How to get to Astoria and then walk the route south. We had our last bagels smothered in cream cheese as we lounged in our tent checking Amtrak and local bus timetables. A cheeky chipmunk had been sneakily ducking in and out of the underbrush and finally he decided the time was right, our attention on our bagel breakfast and disappeared into our lunch food bag!! Cheeky! Next he disappeared with a used teabag!! That did it, he wasn’t back again.
Also our gas somehow ran out and our lighter died, we needed a store! Armed with a plan we packed camp and headed off to hitch to Bandon. We had a record breaking hitch. 2nd car, wait time of 30 seconds.
Meet the Mushroom Man. This fella, when not working in construction in the oil industry, collects all sorts of mushrooms and sells them
Commercially!! For approximately 16 miles we got the insider information of all local mushrooms, their selling price per pound and where they could be found (assuming the landowners permission). “You don’t want to trespass in Oregon”!
The new problem he was encountering? Marijuana is now legal in Oregon and everyone can have 4 plants for personal use. People have a lot of land in Oregon and some people had ‘ a lot more than 4 plants’ and didn’t like people walking about their land to ‘collect mushrooms’.
In Bandon we got gas, lighter and more bagels etc. And walked onwards to our next hiker biker camp at Bullards Beach State Park. We meet Stuart aka Fixit (2015 pct they hiker) “hey are you guys pct refugees?” “Yes” “your number 18 and 19”! “Are you walking south to north?” “Yes but we are about to change that” “that’s a very wise idea”. Stuart having walked from the north gives us quite a few tips for our up and coming reroute before early bed.
Day 6. Bullards Beach to Sunset Bay state park at Cape Arago
Up and at it early as we had a plan and my thermarest had misbehaved last night. Slow puncture? I awoke in the middle of the night feeling every bump of the floor and had to perform some mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Tea and bagel for breakfast ( oh the joys of having frequent villages enroute) and off we set towards the beach.
Following Stuart aka Fixit’s advice we walked along the boardwalks and sandy paths and then paths parallel to the beach rather than the sand itself and made good time for the first 2.5 miles.
Mr raccoon had been on the boardwalk before us and left behind his little wet paw marks. And a chunky black, slow salamander made his way across the sandy trail to the beach as we progressed along.
Having learnt our lesson re. Tide times, we had to get around Five Mile Point at low tide. We managed the five miles of Whisky Run Beach and hit the point exactly on low tide, 9am (all the muscles and sponges were exposed). Then onwards to Seven Devils Road (Hills!!).
This was another 5.5 miles of mostly gravel path. We started counting off the ‘devils’, the old route the locals took with their mules and wagons. I spotted a handful of wild turkey grazing at the side of fields, long legged and surprisingly fast.
After a lovely lunch of more bagels, crisps, cookies and hot tea we felt fortified enough to tackle the ‘ no trespassing ‘ section of today’s trail (don’t trespass in Oregon they have guns and dogs!). The books description of this section was poor, so armed with the iPhone’s Satelitte image we tried to find the route.
Again more gravels roads but this time a lot less travelled. Cory spotted an elk quietly grazing by the side of our trail. On spotting us, it gracefully trotted out of sight.
We walked through the forest, through sun and shade, up and down. Cory regularly checking on the IPhone that ‘all looked well’. The old road was slowly becoming less defined, over grown with grass and lined with wild flowers, the scent of the flowers and their pollen heavy in the air.
Cory had just been counting his chickens. “We are nearly there, probably only another 30 minutes” and we literally hit a wall of brambles!
Cory went scouting for the path! I sat down in the lush meadow and peeled off my soaking socks and tended my sore ‘trench feet’ toes. 10 minutes later and the intrepid explorer was back having found a deer track around the bramble forest.
Mummy Mule deer was in the meadow with her two little babies also grazing happily on the rich leaves and grasses. She seemed to be looking straight at us but since the grass was up to our necks she obviously couldn’t quite see us until we loaded up our packs onto our backs.
15 minutes of bushwhacking and we were back on the trail, eventually coming out along the side of a golf course. We passed a house with a big (not doing its job well) thankfully friendly Alsatian and lots of ginger chickens obviously long lost cousins of my lovely Weasley Sisters. After another hour, the entrance of the state park was just around the corner.
Hiker Biker campsite number 3. After our unlimited hot water showers, We polished off the nachos and chocolate chip cookies washed down with tea and powdered milk. Then more S-mash and ‘sausages’ for tea.
What a great wildlife day!
Day 7. Sunset Bay to Coos Bay
What a night!
Numpties bumbled into our site around 11:30 and they were still be noisy an hour late! Cory popped his head out and asked “will you be going to bed soon? We are trying to sleep”.
Then at 4am they were at it again! Again Cory asked them to be quiet!
Very tired this morning due to such a poor sleep. Our plan to walk the beach to Charleston foiled! We finally dragged ourselves out of the soggy tent at 7am, packed and ate breakfast.
Cory lifted their helmets, as they were still sleeping(!!!!) and reported them to the ranger station ( they can’t leave without their helmets!).
We walked the four miles to Charleston and within 20 minutes, Sean ex-military, Harley enthusiast, kindly dropped us off at the bus stop shop for our ticket and transport to Eugene and onwards to Astoria for a new North To South route.