Powell River Canoe Trail

All about the journey and not the destination”. That’s certainly what we have learnt on our Big Adventure. We set out to walk the 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada. The dangerous conditions in the high Sierra ( due to the snow and dangerous creek crossings) has seen us amending and Amending the amendments of our plans. At a rough guess we think we are now on Plan E or F!

Wisely we both got off the PCT. Cory’s experience allowed him to make the sensible choice and get off the trail too after walking 6 days in the High Sierra.  Sadly at least 5 PCT Hikers have lost their lives on the trail this year, 4 deaths happening within the last 4 weeks, two of these deaths were definitely due to drowning in the creeks. There are innumerable stories of serious injury and near death experiences also.

We then walked the Beautiful Coast line of Oregon. The Oregon Coast Trail had its busiest year ever with the unexpected   ‘PCT refugees’ influx. Even most Oregonians had not heard of their own coastal trail. It was fantastic to experience a different sort of trail, from the Wilderness experience of the PCT.  

Since finishing the OCT we travelled to the San Juan islands to see Orca and taken our planned ‘holiday within our holiday’ to see Wolf, Bear and Moose in Yellowstone. After the Eclipse we had planned to ‘get back on the trail’ and continue north to Canada. However …

The best laid plans of mice and men…

Wildfires now  rage on the PCT and the ice storms over winter resulted in hundreds and hundreds of fallen trees in Washington. So we have decided to keep heading north and experience a different sort of trail before we reluctantly head for home. 

We are going to have an Open Canoe adventure in Canada’s Sunshine Coast. There is a Sunshine Coast hiking trail but we are ready to experience wild Canada from the water. We are traveling to Powell River, where we are hiring a Open canoe. We will then Canoe the 57km, 8 lakes, (5 portage) of the lake based trail, wild camping and hoping to view the wildlife which British Columbia has to offer! 

San Juan Islands – let there be Orca

On my goals for 2017, among many other wonderful dreams, is to see Orca in the wild. Yes, we have a reasonably local pod off the West Coast of Scotland but they are quite a rare sight.

After lots of research and looking at logistics we ruled out getting to Vancouver Island after finishing the Oregon Coastal Highway. Too far away and expensive to get to, as we plan to visit Yellowstone for Wolves, bear and moose and be back in Oregon for the Solar Eclipse.

The San Juan islands are in Washington state and reasonably easy to get too! We take a bus from Florence to Eugene and then another bus to Seattle. We catch a shuttle bus from Seatac airport to Anacortes and a ferry over to Friday Harbour on the main island, San Juan. It’s a two day trip to get to San Juan and it has the feeling of Gairloch. It’s bustling with tourists and all the locals know each other. The islands main industry is tourism, just like back home. However here their are scores of kayak and whale watching boats. Welcome to the island that boasts the Orca Highway.

The resident pod of Orca eat salmon, thus behave differently from the transient pods of Orca which frequent the waters off the coast of the San Juan Islands and Canada.

We catch the local bus ($5 p/p about 4 buses a day) to San Juan County Park which has a hiker biker camp. There are toilets with running water, charge points in the toilet or at the rangers office. For once the Hiker Biker camp, is the best spot in the campsite.

The temperatures are topping triple digits on the mainland and San Juan, although not quite so hot, is dry and balmy. We erect our tent as close as possible to the sea and plan our Orca sighting optimisation plan. The sunsets from the park are magnificent and the lights of Vancouver Island wink at us as it turns from dusk to dark.

There are warnings everywhere about the resident raccoons and thankfully there is a communal food locker for the hiker bikers. Despite this during the night I am awoken. There is something outside the tent. If I didn’t know better I would sweat it was a hippopotamus ripping up hunks of grass with its massive mouth. The noise of the rip and munch is so loud! What can it be? I sit up and look out the mesh of the tent door and I see the delicate silhouette of a graceful black tailed deer. She is gazing at me. I Am gazing at her! She is beautiful! After a while she tires of inquisitively looking at me the big red caterpillar. and resumes her hippo impersonation moving further down the meadow towards the sea.

The Orcas are well know to be visible from the coastline from our park and also Lime Kiln park, down the coast a few kilometres. This is the Orca Highway. The salmon run up the west side of the island and the hunters follow their prey.

Based on all our research we book a kayak trip and dream of our Orca Experience. The kayak trips leave from Small Pox bay, in our park, so we wait for our guide and the other clients to arrive. We chat to our neighbours in the campsite. They have a yacht and travel these waters often and are touring the island with their bikes for a few days. We are the only hikers at the park, the rest of the people are either cyclists or have vehicles. We we chat their little dog heads for the porch of our tent. Cory hollers a ‘hey’ at the dog and the mum quickly retrieves the dog.

Later we I go to renter the tent and get ready for our kayak I find a little horrid parcel the dog had left for us on our porch!!!! Dogs always on the leash, the rules are there for a reason. Yuck!!! Thankfully it was a wee dog! The ‘parents’ are horrified, I’m reasonably matter of fact about it, Cory ‘is Not happy about it’.

After initially accidentally signing into the wrong group! Our guide and van arrive and we set off!

We see Bald Eagles, curious seals, harbour porpoise, millions of tiny fish, various jellyfish but we have one track minds. ORCA. The sea is tranquil and still, like a pond, not the open sea. I feel quite calm in the double kayak with my expert at the back. Cory takes a wee while to get used to having a rudder though! I just paddle as instructed and hope for the best.

We stop for lunch and based on cryptic comments from our guide and the other clients I ask. “Did we miss some Orca information on the mini bus? Are the Orca not around?”

Our guide admits yes we had missed a bit of information on the trip over. The ‘resident orca’ have ceased to be resident. The salmon have disappeared and thus the Orca have too, worse, this isn’t a recent occurrence. The sightings had plummeted in 2016 and 2017 it had gotten a lot worse. Salmon numbers were down to 20% of what they were a few years ago. The Orca now rarely frequent the ‘Orca super highway’.

This is the best kept secret of the San Juan islands where the tourism industry is built of the whales (as well as sport fishing). People don’t come here to kayak, they come to kayak with Orca.

The day ceases to hold any interest for me after that. I can go kayaking, we can go kayaking whenever we want. We live beside the sea, we kayak with Otter and curious seals.

Quite discontent and feeling quite ill treated at this information we rethink our strategy. We book a super fast rib from Friday Harbour the next day, as there are many transient pods of Orca in the Saltish Sea. With a fast boat we maximise our chance of being able to get to any pods, if sighted.

We had to get up and on the road by 7am. The local bus doesn’t start until 10:30 so we will have to walk the 10 miles across the island. If we don’t get a hitch this leaves enough time to get into town by foot. 2 miles into our hike, a young Dutch couple stop and empty their back seat. They have just left our campsite and are headed for the ferry at Friday Harbour. Kerching ! Cory impresses them with a ‘Dank vel!’

The smog from the wildfires in Canada have made the day hazy and humid. We get kitted up in the warm suits and head from

Canadian waters where the captain says Orca have been spotted. It will take us about 1hour 10 minutes to get to the area. After yesterday’s disappointment, we are a bit scared to get our hopes up!!

There is a naturalist on board also but we travel so fast there isn’t much she can say and be heard. The captain, with 20 years experience, seems to know just as much as our guide.

We bump across the flat seas and visibility across the waters is fantastic. If the orca are there, we will see them!

The groups of boats are the give away that we have reached our destination. The tour boats have to stay at least 400yards away from

The Orca to decrease disturbing the whales. Of course if he Orca dive and come up closer to the boat, then you have ‘lucked out’.

Then silently the huge dorsal fins break the surface of the calm grey waters. It is breathtaking!

When they dive we never know where exactly they will reappear. We watch them silently break the waters surface, usually take about three quiet breaths and dive again.

The transients are hunting. They will eat porpoise or seals etc. Thus they behave differently from the resident salmon eating pods. They are silent. They breath as one. They are quiet. They are stealthy.

They are spellbinding.

They are magnificent.

They are beautiful.

We are thrilled. When, after 40 minutes, the captain says we will have to start heading back. We are gutted. I want to stay with them for hours.

Our captain was good however as he, unlike many other boats, kept a respectful distance from the whales. It was interesting to watch the other boats and how they flouted the rules. Also how the boats were ‘almost’ listing to one size with the weight of all their tourists leaning over one side of the boat.

Thrilled we return to Friday Harbour and catch the 4 times a day bus back to the park.

Day three and the Orca pressure is off! We have a day off sitting at our campsite and gazing at the sea.

Day four, again we start hitching into town before the bus service. A lady picks up about a mile into our hike, again she is from our campsite and has a lovely big dog called Bear. She drops us off at a busier junction as she is headed for English Camp. Immediately after getting dropped off Elaine picks us up, she’s in a rush so we scoot into the car and whoosh have a lovely chat as she heads into town in a hurry.

Our initial ferry departing Friday Harbour was late, we get back into town late. We’ve missed the bus that will take us back home. We manage to get to the supermarket before the 60+ cyclists manage to locate it and empty it of booze and crisps and then head to the ‘bus stop’. There is a bus but it won’t go as far as our park. It stops 5 miles before our park and then turns and heads back to town.

We ask to get dropped off as close to the park as possible and the driver recognises us. She’s says if no one else gets on the bus she will take us all the way home. No one else does get on, we are very lucky ( and great full) and leave here a tip as well as our fare!

We leave he island on Saturday and have to be at Friday Harbour by 6am. Cory arranges for a taxi to pick us up at 5:20 and it’s a groggy 4:45 that sees us packing up the tent in the dark.

We wait for the taxi at the park entrance as we sleepily remove ‘sleep’ from our eyes. 5:15, 5:20, 5:25, 5:30. Cory phoned the company, no answer. He phoned them again and leaves a message. 5:35. He tried again. He then phoned our (return journey prepaid) shuttle driver to explain that our taxi hasn’t picked us up! He says that even if he shows up now, we won’t make it as he is about to board. He said we could try for the 8am ferry and try and catch the Bellair shuttle. 5:40 and we start walking.

Trudge. Trudge trudge. Our bus leaves Seattle at 2pm! IF we catch he 8am ferry. IF we can get space on Bellair Shuttle. Will we reach Seattle in time for our next prepaid bus to Portland?

3 miles, we walk three miles and no a single vehicles passes us! At the English Camp junction we hear a truck.

I don’t hitch! Apparently I “pulled a face” which Cory said I should use every time we are hitching. Hehe!

I didn’t use my thumb either! I flagged the truck down! The driver didn’t have a chance!

He was opening his boot before I even explained our predicament. What an angel!

He was a local cafe owner on his way to open up!

He said that the Island operated on its own agenda and wasn’t entirely surprised we had been let down by our taxi driver! We had assumed their was only one company on the island but he explained there was a few!

We arrived in good time and headed for a coffee and to charge our iPhones. We needed to arrange our onward journey and get the taxi driver! Cory phoned and phoned the taxi company and left messages. No one phoned us back!!!

I phoned the taxi company, with my different number, and someone answered. I passed the phone to Cory.

After chatting to the driver on duty it was established that our driver should have been BoB the owner of the company. The driver said he would phone Bob and get a solution and call us back. He did call back and said Bob had forgotten to write our booking in his book! And?

He said Cory should call Bob in the office. Again Cory called and called. He left messages. No response. Cory phoned the driver back and explained Bob ‘wasn’t answering his phone’! The driver then gave Cory Bobs mobile ( well it wasn’t his mistake was it!).

Bob answered his mobile!

Cory, thankfully, managed to remain calm and explained we had now missed our prepaid shuttle to Seattle and would also miss our prepaid bus to Portland.

Bob said he would be with us in 10 minutes to give us money to cover our costs! We then set about trying to get reservations on the Bellair shuttle and change our BoltBus booking. Bob appeared with seconds to spare as we prepared to board the ferry. We got $160 to cover our costs.

We secured seats on Bellair. We managed to get our BoltBus tickets changed we would make it to Portland that night for our prepaid Airbnb. And we even had money left over for a lovely late lunch in Seattle. The most awesome Chinese.

It had been quite stressful! We were just glad we hadn’t been heading to the airport for a flight only bus connections or the consequences would have been a lot more

Disruptive.

The Strength to Make The ‘right’ decision!

Walking the Pacific Crest Trail was our original goal. I was more 'relaxed' in my definition of my 'adventure' to get from Mexico to Canada, preferably by 'foot power'.

We have avidly followed the PCT Facebook pages, received updates from the internet and our Californian and Oregon friends. Primarily we were watching the record snow fall, then the lack of snow melt and of course when things did start to slowly melt, our attention widened to 'creek crossings'.

It sounds quite benign doesn't it? Creek Crossing. It sounds like a hop, skip and jump with butterflies and dragon flies sparkling in the sunlight, along with Huckleberry Finn.

The reality could not be more different!
Raging torrents, 2+ meters in depth, the force hurling huge tree trunks, boulders and debris.

I decided to skip the Sierras after various plans to 'flip flop' and come back and hike then later proved not feasible.

Cory, with his decades of mountaineering and white water experience, decided to hike the high Sierra. As we know 7 days into that adventure, he had the courage to make a hard decision and get off the trail. The reason for his departure? Not the snow but the creek crossings! One slip in the wilderness is all it takes and the conditions this year with 200% more snow = 200% more snow melt = treacherous!

We made the right decision for us! I've 'Walked My Wild'. 🙂

Pacific Crest Trail and now the Oregon Coast Trail.

Mountain Rescue Services have been overwhelmed. We know of two+ deaths already on the trail. These have NOT been reported on the Officially PCT page!

Our Adventure continues. We continue to head North.

We are enjoying our Pacific West Travels!

Only the unofficial PCT Class of 2017 Facebook page mentions the deaths. Thus there will be more serious incidents which aren't being collated.

R.I.P. Strawberry, Tree & Marvin 💕

Week 3 -Oregon Coast Trail

Webb Country Park to Lincoln Beach (Devils Lake State Park)

Clean Hair Day

Hiker Biker campsite with lockers and USB chargers. Awesome. Cory also found a tiny bottle of Pantene, joy of joys, I have clean hair. First time in about 9 days!

In Oregon the preferred greeting seems to be "Howdy", Cory reckons if he says this we won't get engaged in conversation (that and avoiding eye contact). We'd not get anywhere if we engaged in a conversation with everyone who wants a wee chat.

He got a wee bit topsy-turvy today though "Heidi" he greeted a fellow Beach walker. Nope that's me !! Hehe!

Lincoln Beach to Beverley Beach State Park

The Crow Bagel Raid

Oh my feet hurt tonight! Too much tarmac on today's route. We had three Beach walks, roughly with a total of 9 miles. With the wind behind us, Gortex Jackets on, hoods up, we made good time on the beaches. The one huge estuary we had to get over or around, we hitched to avoid the 4.5 miles of highway 101 walking.

Over 20 minutes for a hitch, all the good people on their way to church, too focused to pick us up. A lovely Mexican man, covered in paint, on his way to Newport to pick up more paint (as he had ran out).

"When I moved here, I didn't even know how to use the bus, I walked everywhere"

Ah the angel 😉

Then more walking …
With only 1.6 miles to go, I needed another wee rest. As my feet were throbbing so much after a huge tarmac walk through Depoe Bay and beyond.

For tea tonight we had a rare tin of tomato soup and bagels planned of course with crisps as the aperitif! Cory was off for his shower and unnoticed (be me), a crow was hopping along towards our picnic bench. I ran over and chased it away. I then went back to my iPhone charging in the locker. Next I see 4 crows in the tree, a mob! I ran to our picnic bench. The blighters had burst the bag and half a bagel was gone.

I changed my sentry duty to the bench to secure the grub. Tonight we will sleep with the 4 bagels we have left in our tent 🙂

Beverley State Park to South Beach State Park

French 'do' have a sense of humour!

Slept in, again. Lazy OCT timetable! We awoke at 7, my bed a pancake, again! We'd heard a creature last night, snuffling and creeping around the tent but all the food was intact.

South, after granola and powdered milk, a beautiful chilly morning with a North Easterly wind. Favourable for us south bounders!

The sea mist built up and came in. Plunging us into the cold. We walked past two lighthouses today and visited neither, as usual, on a mission to camp.

Wisdom, wit or gobble-de-gook

"Where are you walking from?"
"Astoria"
"On zee beach?"
"Yes"
"What nationality are you, but, you are not Americans?"
"No, Scottish"
"Yes, I know it, as me, I am French " said the lady. The implication being that Americans don't walk.

"Is this the hiker biker camp?" Lady wheeling in her bike.
"Bloody hell your Scottish " mandy
"And so are you"
" where are you from, Glasgow?"
"No Stirling, and you?" mandy
"Stirling" Lucy (lady wheeling bike).

South Bay State Park – taking a zero

Blonde again!

Hair done, library visited and full use of the McDonald's app! BURP!! Huge traffic jam as we tried to get back to camp.

South Bay State Park to Bayview State Park ( beyond Waldport)

Eyeless Fish In the fog

On the road by 7:50! Early for the OCT part-timers. 6+ miles of empty beach. Low tide was 8:30 and we hit Beaver Creek after 10:00. It meant soggy feet for the rest of the day.

We spotted another Bald Eagle on the beach, it is top viewing before the heat of the day builds and they use the thermals.

Later on there were 6 or 7 vultures on the beach. They slowly took off as we approached. We thought it was a dead guillemot ( we have seen a lot) or perhaps a young seal pup. No, it was a huge fish, still fresh but its eyes gone. Cory burst its skin, with his walking poles, to give the vultures easier access.

The souls of my feet are very sore today. Sore much earlier than usual. My decathlon shoes are officially 'bounce-less'. They've walked over 1000 miles and are also 'sole-less'. I was hobbling with 5 miles to go!!

My second 'gaiter' now has a hole in it too. I cut another scrap off my 'half towel', got out the sewing kit and darned away. Then I added some duct tape as an extra security measure!

No USB chargers at this campsite:-( it means hanging around the loos, looking 'well dodge' , as you try to charge them while ensuring no one helps themselves to your phone!

Bayview State Park to Carl G Wasbourne State Park

Lazy,lazy. Lazy! Although we wake up early, unlike the PCT, there's no rush! We had the left over granola with powdered milk, followed by bagel and cream cheese and tea.

Then out onto the beach! It had started misty and big droplets of water had been plopping on us heads in camp. However 10 minutes into the walk we were stripping off layers.

We had lots of creek crossings (none mentioned in Bonnies Book- oh the letter we could write). It's not comfortable to walk a entire day with soaking shoes, socks and feet. Starting to feel the scratchy rub of athletes foot as it begins to slowly build to a burn. Like sandpaper between your toes.

Yachats is the little holiday town on the route today. Cory calls it Coffee town ( a different sort of one track mind). He's busy working out his fitness plan for his next challenge and is discussion a core work out. I rename it the Bagel Belly, due to our new addiction affliction.

We head to the posh bakery cafe. Cory has? Yes, coffee. I have a hot chocolate. A croissant costs $4.50, a muffin too! The produce is baked fresh in the back shop, into which you can see, dreadlocked artisans playing with flower and rolling pins.

I'm dying to take off my shoes and air my fungus toes but I think it may result in a health notice being issued to the bakery and exterminators being brought in. So I silently suffer.

Next stop the supermarket. $5.99 foot long sub and our favourite $2 bag of salty tortillas. We bounce along now excited at the prospect of lunch.

We are surprised to kind OCT trail signs. A pleasant surprise and we head onto Amanda's Trail which will eventually take us to Cape Perpetua.

What an UP! The sweat is pouring off me and my little hummingbird heart is fit to pop. We pass the Amanda statue ( gps tracker and surveillance cameras) and hike the lush dark green forest paths.

I warn Cory about counting chickens too early. Which we do. I think 3 times the chickens were out of their basket! Eventually after what felt like 80% of up, and many false downs, a sign!

Another 15 minutes and we are at the look out and more importantly a picnic table. How quickly can a foot look Bavarian ham and cheese sub disappear? Pretty darn fast!

We get chilled at the top of the Cape. The sweat saturated merino tops drying on our skin, under the shady trees. We wrap up in our down jackets.

Down to the Interpretation centre and clean loos for a hand and face freshen up.

The next section is mostly road walk so we decide to hitch at the 'turn-out' to view the water spouts. The parking bays are full in fact so full that people are double parked. Famous last words"this shouldn't take long…"

We aren't sure how long it took but it 'did' take long. Maybe an hour.

An elderly gentlemen on his way to dinner at the casino in Florence was kind enough to stop. I think he was a little hard of hearing, as Cory had to live up to one of his trail names, Translator!

Wisdom, wit or gobbledegook

I asked (the elderly gentlemen) if he had won the free dinner. "Nope (he giggled), I just used to spend too much money there and they gave me vouchers to make me come back"

"What do you folks do back home, are you teachers?"
"Cory owns a training business but I'm now unemployed" I reply.
"Well good for you! If there is one thing I've learned after getting to this age, it's to take every opportunity that comes to you!"

We get dropped off at Carl G Washbourne State Park and now that it is Central Coast it is only $10 a night (no USB ports though but last night didn't either). It's freezing under the trees. So we make our ramen from the shelter of the tent and wash it down with tea and dried cranberries.

Carl G Washbourne State Park to Florence.

An Elephant Pees on The Tent!

A spring in our step this morning. The last day of our Oregon Coast Trail. Awake before 6am, although not too much of a surprise as my Garmin says I'd slept for 11and 1/2 hours!

There seems to have been a little mishapduring the night. First time in ages I needed a midnight pee, it seems I forgot the rules of gravity! 'Things' seem to have ran down a wee slope to under the tent and onto our walking poles!

Cory thought to was a visit from a deer during the night. I couldn't let the deer take the rap for me! It was the 'elephant pee!'

We were on the beach before 8am, Hobbit Beach, all to ourselves, then onwards up the Hobbit Trail, then up up up to Heceta Head and down down to our first lighthouse close enough to touch.

Next we have to get through the Tight Tunnel which the OCT now recommend that hikers Do Not Walk through. 9:04 we started hitching to ensure we don't risk our life's in the Tunnel of Doom! 9:35, the lovely Jim stops on the way to pick up his wife from the airport.

Wisdom, wit or gobbledegook

He's heading to Florence, McDonalds in fact, for breakfast! We think…'what an excellent idea!' And we trundle all the way into town for Second Breakfast.

https://youtu.be/199Wh6pEwIQ

Week 2. The Oregon Trail. North to South to avoid the horrid North Easterly

Week 2. Oregon Coast Trail

Having got off the trail at Coos Bay and caught a bus to lovely June and Wallys, we then hired a car and travelled north.

This allowed us to explore some of the north's state and national parks before resuming our OCT walking south!

We paid homage to The Goonies (Mandy) and Lewis and Clark (Cory). We stayed at Fort Stevens State park and ticked off the South Jetty South while still camped at the Hiker Biker site ($12 a night). Then it was time to start walking south.

Day 3 (on the 2nd start!)

Seaside to Ebola State Park

Squirrel Squirted!

Our next campsite was in Ebola State Park at Tillamook Head. There is a 'primitive hiker' camp here and it sounded great.

We had walked into the clouds and mist which we had seen hanging over the park from the beach at Seaside (what a great name for a village). As we climbed up we walked into the mist and rain of the Temperate Rainforest and at times it got muddy underfoot and cold.

We were following the route which Lewis and Clark had taken to barter for whale blubber from the Indians at Ecola Beach.

On arrival we found the huts to have bunk beds inside but scraps of food strewn everywhere. This would be like honey to a bear at night so we decided to put up our tent anyway!

We thought we were remote, in the middle of nowhere! Then a pack of perky teenage girls turned up with three slightly older men (their guides?). We were bombarded with a millionquestions as we tried to have our cup of tea and Clif bar.

Wisdom, wit or gobbledegook

Guide " Do you guys life here?"
I fell onto the floor laughing.

I know we looked pretty rough and probably stink again but really!?!

Cory replied " Yes I've been busy building these huts, I just haven't got the doors finished yet"

Eventually things got quiet in the forest and after a half hour of listening to our new book, Band of Brothers, we tried to fall asleep.

Then outcame the creatures of the night. Every time I switched on the head torch, they
vanished. Light out. Then they were back.

Rummaging. Snuffling. Exploring our bags. Rustling.

I felt droplets land on my head. I said nothing. Mist!?

Then later, more droplets. Cory said it will just be raindrops from the trees. Later I felt it again… a third time!

"Cory a critter is squirting on my head. I'm being 'scented'! "

We shut the tents outer door as I wondered how irresistible I was going to be to every critter in the wood until I got to shower. Yuck!!

Tillamook Head to Nehalem Bay Park.

We slept in in the morning. Making up for the squirrel raids and squirting attacks we had survived over night. In Ecola Park a part of the route had been washed out in spring of 2017 but we decided the detour was too much and the road walking would kill our feet. We chanced the former route. It was indeed washed out! Scrambly, scrappy and simply not there but we made it though.

We had breakfast at India Beach and realised our butane gas was nearly empty. No problem we'll get some in Canon Beach… what have we learnt about counting chickens?

We walked all over Canon Beach asking at all the local shops for gas and eventually we started calling RV parks and shops rather than pound our feet on the hard asphalt. No butane in posh Canon Beach! The next village? Manzanita. Did they have a hardware store with Butane? A quick phone call and Eureka, we would eat tonight!

We walked the beach past Haystack Rock again and onto our next water stop. Bonnie (the bible book) said there was water at Arcadia Beach. She was wrong! Now we only had a litre of water left.

We walked onwards to Hug Point and decided it was time to hitch. Manzanita was our mantra. Water and Gas.

It was a hard hitch. We thought people leaving the day area. But nope most were heading north not south. 1/2 am hour later meet Hippy Micro Plastic girl in her Scooby Mobile Mystery Mobile.

She careered around the bend, saw us and screeched in and picked us up! Awesome and she lived in Manzanita.

We saved the world from Plastic on journey. Why isn't there lots of plastic debris on Oregon Beaches?!

Cory was 'recognised' at the lumber yard and then we decided it was time To treat ourselves. Bagels, carrots, humus, apple, cream cheese and a beer for Corydon.

The state park? Clearly it had been moved out of manzanita… trudge trudge trudge!! Another hour later and our cheapest hiker biker so far. $6 for the tent.

Wit, wisdom or gobbledegook.

Small child around 3 years old on tricycle "dad I'm t-I-r-e-d"

"Son your just gonna have to 'cowboy up' and keep peddling " replied the Dad.

Nehalem State Park to Barview County Park.

Neighbours with Tourette's and Charlie's (lovely) Angels

We had a great sleep after the last night and then a Biker at the camp offered us real milk for our granola breakfast! Heaven.

We walked along Nehalem Spit and watched 3 Bald Eagles, one of which caught a huge fish and flew right over our heads with it.

Next? time to hail a lift over estuary of Nehalem Bay. Our gesticulating didn't work ( as mentioned in the book) so Cory dug out the book and called the jetty. Our boat arrived and the seals bobbed up and down as we crossed over. ($10 per person).

After a soft drink and coffee we scrambled along the southern section of the jetty and onto. Manhattan beach and Rockaway Beach.

We chatted to three ladies section hiking. How were they getting over the next estuary at Tillamook Bay? ( We'd called and tried to arrange a ferry for tomorrow but they thought they didn't have the staff. ) Their husbands were their support team. They offered us a lift… fantastic. Cory swapped phone numbers.

Then once again we trudged trudged trudged into the county park for a hiker site. $19 and NO shower included. Boo hoo! We have been spoiled.

We had the neighbours from hell turn up. Loud music! Loud voices! The fathers favourite word was 'f**k' used as an adjective, noun or verb!!! He was complaining despite having sneaked two vehicles, 3 tents, the entire extended family and smuggled dog, onto the campsite for $29! Ugh!

And it rained last night. At 3am I felt the water on my face, naturally I thought I was being squirt scented by a squirrel!! This time however it really was the rain.

Cory, the angel, struggled outside and put the tents 'lid on'. It was very soggy in the morning and one of my shoes had its own little pond in it.

Bar View County Park to Cape Look Out State Park

Meet our new angels, not really Charlie's but Jim and Scott's! , Lisa, Susan, Marja and their support team, Scot and Jim. The ladies are walking 100 miles of the northern section of the OCT, 'end to end' (hotel to hotel).

Lisa, the angel, picked us up from the park entrance at 7:45am, to save us the horrid walk into Garibaldi on the 101. We walked into their lovely hotel and Lisa 'suggested' we might like some 'coffee'. Cory had a full American breakfast (including tortilla) and I had fresh fruit with yoghurt and a sprinkling of granola. Coffee (Cory), hot chocolate (Mandy), two wee mini muffins and two bagels with cream cheese 'to go'.

Then our Captain and partner turned up at the hotel and we piled into the two cars for our ferry across Tillamook Bay to Crab Harbour. (This avoids a 18 mile road walk/ hitch for $40 for both of us). They worked hard to ensure we got into Crab Harbour on Bayocean Spit without getting wet feet!

'Move up to the stern.' The Captain and her partner were in the water, gently manoeuvring the boat, one way and another.
Move back to the bow.
More pushing and pulling.
Move up to the stern.
More pushing and pulling.
15 minutes later, on a rising tide, we were ashore, with dry shoes!

To be fair I don't mind getting my feet wet. I do mind the Trench Foot which erupts between my wee toes after 15+ miles of walking with wet feet, socks and shoes.

By now the rain had stopped, the weather remained over cast, thus cooler than the previous few days of walking.

We walked down the spit, on the ashphalt path, then onto the beach, bumping into the ladies again. As they had a snack, we headed to the ' only attempt at low tide' route up Cape Meares. The beach was covered with elk footprints as we walked towards the outcrop.

It wasn't so bad, we climbed the rocky outcrop as the sea had already covered the route around the headland and then scrambled up a slippy slope using the handy rope. Then up up up into the humid and damp Cape Meares and at the summit , a quick bagel, before a trudge of a road walk down to Netarts Beach.

People are so friendly! People are interested to know where you are walking too. "Where have you walked from.? How long are you walking? How long will it take you? And of course the classic question on hearing the accents. Where are you from?"

Of course the new answer for, where are you headed? = California! ( at least to join up our dotted line from south to north).

They wish us luck and are always so friendly!

At Netarts we had another deep Bay crossing where 'Bonnie' (don't get us started) Henderson, suggests you flag down a passing boat or 5 miles of road walking to our Hiker Biker site at Cape Lookout.

We got sidelined by The Scooner, essentially only for a 'cup of coffee', one look at the plates of fish'n'chips and the good intentions flew away in the wind. Cory also got tempted by the evil temptress, 'dirty beer', after a sip even I thought it was tasty.

2 hours later and 2 huge meals and 2 beers for Cory. He was ready for an afternoon nap. Under no circumstances was he prepared (or able) to walk. My feet were thumping, brutalised after the tarmac down from Cape Meares, so we walked to the road end, beside the jetty and refined our hitching technique.

Wisdom, wit or gobbledegook
Tipsy Cory. "Well it's dangerous if they offer lunch at Beer time!" Eh! Is that right cory?!

Two gentlemen, after only 10 minutes) came back to get us (after previously driving past and probably determining we looked reasonably innocent) and drove us the 5 miles directly to the park. Angels drive pick-up trucks!! Who knew?!

We've showered again. Free showers in Oregon State Parks. But we honk! No amount of rinsing your shirt in a sink or a shower can remove the smell. My hair is washed in the shower but without soap, nothing really feels clean. My hands and face yes but my hair feels greasy. My clothes haven't been washed for a week now and it's been hot. YUCK!

Cape Lookout State Park to Webb County Park Ground in Pacific City

Late to rise today. I think my thermarest has a slow puncture I slept badly and this slept in. I didn't awaken until Cory was headed to the loo!

June & Wally in Eugene


We had a big fat squirrel prowling around the tent last night and this morning. Cory tried to scare it but throwing things at it. The squirrel thought he was throwing food and came closer 🙂 either that or it is my irresistible 'stinky hair'!!

Then as we were leaving the camp we were certain the pine cones were being hurled at us from above.

The climb out of Cape Lookout was muggy and mucky. The temperate rainforest green and lush with skunk cabbage lining the path. We passed Charlies Angels (the three ladies) about 1/2 an hour into our hike up and we laughed as they knew they had been 'breaking trail' due to all the 'cobweb trip wires' they were breaking.

At the other side of the Cape we were back onto the beach and the weather was still overcast. Dog rose perfumed the path where the forest met the beach and we had a little rest on a huge piece of driftwood in the mist.

The beach walk was again very foot friendly. Long gradual slope into the sea and not too much wave dodging. The going was good despite the ATVs which were racing up and down part of the beach.

https://youtu.be/XbWYs1UEf7o

Again little sea lice sprung out of our way as we trudged along the beach. A giant eagle and vulture, slowly flapped themselves off the beach, disturbed at our passing their cormorant feast.

At Sands lake we found a picnic table, of course, and the loos and settled in for an Oregon Trail Lunch. The difference between a PCT lunch? Slow and relaxing. Shoes off, kettle on! Yes tea at lunchtime as well as breakfast! It must be the OCT. A 3 course feast. Left over dried cranberries, a granola bar and ramen. We were fit to burst! An hour later we prised ourselves off the bench resigned to the road walk.

Blessed be the gods! Who was passing but Jim, Scot and the girls! Did we want a lift to the next section? Yes but how? It was a wee compact car full already and not forgetting the dog! Lisa jumped out the front passenger seat, lay across Scot, Susan and Marja in the back, Cory (long legs) got the front seat and I somehow curled myself into the boot with 5 bags! Yeah ha!!! What Angels!!!

Another beach walk, Tierra del Mar, another ' are you walking to California?!' Then we noticed a jeep stuck in the stand. We performed some Car Karma and dig them out and pushed them free of the sand. 16 years olds (dads car?) , ten minutes later, in the distance, they were stuck again!!

We scaled the huge Sand Dune at Cape Kiwanda and on the other side, the beach, was full of people and kids with snowboards.

Pacific City, now to the campsite. Another country one I wasn't looking forward to it but then, no spaces at all!! A baseball tournament in Lincoln City. We were offered a site 2 miles out of town. Now when your done your done! Walking another two miles on feet which you have already informed that they are done walking is next to impossible.

On discussing options a camp host took pity on us and offered us a space beside his RV. Awesome. I gave him $10 Camping Karma ( much cheaper than a state site anyway) and we get to charge our phones! Perfect.

Black bunnies are everywhere on the site and very interested in our (second bag) of tortillas! The walking poles are handy for keeping them at bay!! And double luck someone had left a mini bar of soap in the showers (50 cents for a few minutes) so I feel really clean (except the hair) The simplest things in life;-)

The Perfect Goonie Family (4 celebrations and a pipe band! Much more fun that 4 Weddings & a Funeral).

One of my favourite all time kids movies. The Goonies and little did I know it was set in Oregon. Astoria to be precise which is indeed a real town and the huge rock in the sea used as part of the map to One Eyed Willies clue, is Haystack Rock which we will pass enroute while walking the Oregon Coastal Trail. The Marsh family are the main (lovely) characters of the movie.

https://youtu.be/Z3XMnEdt_2I

Let me introduce to you Paula and Jack Marsh. The real life Marsh Family. This couple and their family have huge hearts. They met Cory when he was their guide during a Boundless Journeys holiday in Scotland and kindly offered their angel wings as we hiked the PCT.

https://youtu.be/ueCFU6d8QkY

When Cory ventured into the High Sierra, Paula and Jack offered me the refuge of their beautiful home in Folsom and their 'cabin' in Truckee.

A complete stranger to the family I turned up on their doorstep, all smelly and hot after a 5+ hour, triple digit temperature, greyhound bus ride from hell, into the midst of the families Fathers Day BBQ and pool party. (Celebration 1). A few days later, they kindly gave me the use of their gorgeous 'cabin' in Truckee and the use of their trusty Sequoia.


While Cory climbed the High Sierra and swam the wild creeks, I explored Truckee and tried to keep up my walking regime. In the meantime, Paula and Jack became Grandparents again to Baby Lincoln (celebration 2) and earlier than expected Cory came off the mountains due to the treacherous creek crossings.

We visited Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe (Vikings Holm) and (now a local myself) I gave Cory a guided tour of Historic Truckee and Doner Park with it's sad story of the Doner Party.

We had a lovely walk and lunch with Jeanette, another amazing Trail Angel from Cory's National Geographic guiding life. We explored the old Railway Tunnels together, built by the Chinese immigrants.

https://youtu.be/8QF2vgP1sgc

Paula and Jack (Juniper meow and Tucker woof) arrived in Truckee, laden with food and heaps of kindness. Giant steaks, wild salmon and Paula's secret recipe waffles (your secret is safe with us!).

Even their friends opened their homes and hearts to us. We had a wonderful meal with Jan and Rick, with numerous bears stories and 'bear not welcome' electric mats 🙂

We enjoyed a 'small town's' real Fourth of July celebrations. (Celebration 3). We were in downtown Truckee at 8am to get our deck chairs out (almost too late! Cory reckoned the Germans had been down at midnight :-). and then off to the Fire Department for their 4th of July Pancake Breakfast (think lots of squirty cream and super tasty sausages) . The parade was fantastic fun and I had a tear in my eye when I heard the pipes playing.

I felt Remarkably underdressed! For my next 4th of July parade I'll make sure I'm 'red, white and blued up', with sequins and face paints!

Then home to the cabin to chill and watch The Goonies (again) in preparation for the OCT. Paula and Jack (and their now grown kids) nearly know all the lines of the movie !


We went to Lake Tahoe at night for the fireworks and Paula once more ensured our tummies were fit to burst with a gorgeous picnic feast. As we all sat under the showering starlight and tracers of the fireworks, their friends nephew proposed to his girlfriend. Thankfully there was a 'yes' and another big sparkly dancing light on her finger followed by champagne and brownies all round! (Celebration 4!)

https://youtu.be/p3wtsT9n_Wk

Southern Section of the Oregon Coastal Trail (Day 3-7)

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. 


Day 4. 

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. 
Time 14:21

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?”

“Scotland”

” 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:-)

Day 5 

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. 

Volume control – we didn’t get that lesson ( A little Observation) – SHE

Cultural differences of course we are bound to encounter them but there seems to have been a lesson which we were not a-party too!

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Of course, for the most part, people are hiking the trail alone. They will make friends as they walk. There are also the occasional couples but regardless of this, we missed the voice projection requirement of the PCT.
A hiker will come into a campsite, we may be about a 100 metres away and ‘boom‘ they start to speak. You would be able to hear them way back in Campo. Everyone has a story, we all know that, but the need to ensure that their Grand-mama can hear it way back in Missouri, without using the phone or skype, what is that all about, what need is there which I don’t understand?
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I can understand people’s need to connect, chat and bond, get their words in for the day. Men (2000), Women (10000) but the need for the Sonic Bomb, Blast, to broadcast the story far and wide, it is so strange to me. Or are 90% of those walking the PCT hard of hearing? Decided not to wear their hearing aids?
It does seem to be nationality specific for the most part too. Americans, Canadias, not Brits, older Germans no, younger Germans maybe, especially if they speak with American accents! (A years education in America perhaps?!)

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I find, when I talk, I am shocked at my volume. I sound like I am whispering.

Oregon Coastal Trail Day 1 and Day 2. – First Impressions Do Count 

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! 

Just another Poop in the woods

Frodo and Scout trained me so well! The day before day1 of our hike, we stayed at Trail Angel’s Frodo and Scout’s in San Diego.
We were blessed to have a bed in their home. They fed and cared for 40+ Thru Hikers that night and are incredibly kind.
After pizza and before the cupcakes, they gave us their Orientation and Welcome Speech.
One thing which really stuck with me was “Pack it in, Pack it out”.
Scout (Barney), spoke about the amount of hikers now doing the trail and how it was becoming a brown poop trail. When only 400 people were hiking the PCT a year, it may have been reasonable to bury your loo-paper the 6 inches below ground with your poop. With 2000+ now attempting the trail? But now the little critters were very interested in the ‘smells’ and now dig up the holes, placing a rock over the area is not going to make any difference.
Now soiled toilet paper hangs from the trees like disgusting brown ribbons.
To be honest, at the time, I thought, it cannot be that bad!
Day 1 of our hike, at camp, Cory and I went for a wee walk, away from the herd, to find a place to bathe where it might be a bit more private. I needed a peepee and went off to what I thought was a secluded spot. Clearly others had had that idea also. When I went behind the large boulder, the air was full of humming, lots of big bumbling glistening black flies! It was worse than anything Scout or Frodo could have described, I was confronted with lots of mounds of poop!
Whomever had been there had not even dug a poop hole! Their paper was strewn everywhere too.
I thought I might vomit with the sight and the smell!
I was a convert.
From day one, we had a little Ziplock bag in our ‘toilet’ bag, and the soiled paper goes in and I pack it out! Yes it is pretty gross having 5 days of poop paper with you but the wilderness shouldn’t have to endure any more than what we already put it through!
We also have scented bacterial gel in the ‘toilet’ bag. My stomach now revolts at the smell of the bacterial gel ( buy non-scented!), due to the ‘poop’ association but it gives us a higher degree of hygiene than we would otherwise enjoy where there are no facilities to wash our hands after the act!
And regular? Heck yes, it is as soon as we get up or not at all…. Unless we are heading into town that day for a resupply… then we both wait for the luxury of a toilet and washing facilities 🙂