I didn't do my gear post, yet. It's been a weird blur of tying up loose work ends and seeing friends and being with my boyfriend before I leave.
So many folks wishing me well and the support of folks I've never even met is just really heart warming and fills me up. It makes me feel loved. I've been in a rough patch with my family and despite my reaching out, I'm not really hearing from my parents... Which creates an odd void within me.
I nervously parted ways with my man this morning over coffee and moving music from his computer to my phone. We're very dorky together, we laugh a lot, we're 30 something children and we talked about how important it is to hold on to our kid self.
Britton kid self is freaking the fuck out inside from excitement and the unknown and the boogie man waiting for her at the coast.
Heart pounding, thinking over anything I could have forgotten - I rode public transit to get to the train/bus station in downtown Portland. I hadn't been to Union Station in a little over a year. I confirmed my ticket and was shown the direction of the bathroom. I had to take a nervous poop (poop is a fact of hiking life and you'll hear about it, sorry not sorry) A man with sores all over his lips sitting near the benches to the ladies room asked me for a dollar for food, "I have no cash, I'm sorry." Slamming his hand on the wood of the bench he berates me for not knowing how he can find a way to leave Oregon. He accuses me of thinking that he can't, he accuses me of discouraging him. Naturally I did none of this. His strange and penetrating gaze, gestures and fixation on me leave me feeling more scared than I usually am, ever. I walk into the bathroom realizing there's nothing stopping him from following me in there. It was a rather deserted part of the station. I stand in the door way out of his view, just waiting to see if he tries anything. Reminding myself that I'm tall and burly, I can throw a good punch.
I use the bathroom and step back into the main hall of the station. He's gone.
I find my bus and naturally as we begin to board, my scanned ticket says I'm going to Seattle. Sigh. Second time is the charm and their system gets it right and I sit, pack resting on the floor and I feel safer now. The driver is a warm and plump older lady who smells good. Her assistant is a dingus young man that she orders about.
I pass golden fields of wheat, green golden grasses flecked with Queen Anne's lace. Roadside apple trees beginning to fruit and turn a little red. I can see the hump of the coastal mountain range we have to cross.
I think about the old growth of Oswald West and how when I get to the trees, I'll feel so safe. When I reach the ocean, I'll be where I'm supposed to be. I cry for a little while. Kind of relieved and overwhelmed and thinking of all the things I did to get myself to this point.
I land in Warrenton at the Fred Meyer around noon. I feel odd and awkward in my clothes and gear. I grab a tide table, a cold brew coffee and peek at how I should get to the Ft. Stevens campground. The spot I will camp at before I walk north to the South View Jetty and then officially begin my trek. Looks like a bit of road walking and taking a back road that leads to a beach access.
I move through the main strip of small town Warrenton and down a road, then another. It's sunny and while cool, I am warm from walking at a good clip.
I feel my blood sugar dip, so I eat a meat bar and a Lara bar at a historical monument where shells were dropped by the Japanese in 1941. Killing some American soldiers.
I move along, the beach access not too far from where I am. Closer, I can hear the white noise of the ocean lightly and its salty ozone scent.
A trailhead is next to the road. There's a high water warning sign. I pause and decide to take the road beach access. I just wanted to be on the beach! Then I discover it, the high water is indeed high and makes the road basically impassable on foot. Super thick scrub, trees and grasses submerged in water prevent me from going around. Then...
They descend upon me like a cloud of winged zombies. I run back up the road into the clearing where there's a breeze keeping them from being too active. I gotta take the trail through the woods damnit, I think to myself.
I layer up in my long sleeve shirt and rain jacket. I know that I'll have to walk fast to keep them from swarming too much. I bolt through on the trail, appreciating it a little, but hating it all the same. A strange coastal mosquito hell.
I make a wrong turn and walked along a trail not shown on my gps for about three miles. I was pissed at myself and feeling a bit spooked. I couldn't stop or I'd be eaten alive... A cloud of mosquitos hovered behind me as I kept a 4 mph pace. Zombies! I'd not anticipated swarms like this on the coast. I thundered through the woods. I felt like a dick.
Finally, back on the original trail and heading towards Ft. Stevens. I still keep my thundering brisk pace, they're swarming my butt now. Sweet Mary I found a dune entrance! Everything rushing and intense I stumble onto the beach. Kids, families, kites...
The Peter Iredale shipwreck.
I sit to regroup and sip some water, empty the sand from my shoes. Let the beach air cool and relax me. I stand and zing! My knee is pissed at the 6 miles of mosquito charged pace I was doing. I feel unfit and question if I can actually do this. Can I even do the PCT eventually? I didn't even move up hills or elevation. Feeling terrible I hike the .85 miles to the camp ground. I check in with ease and set up between two friendly cyclists in the hiker-biker camp.
I pitch the tent, make some mac and cheese on my little alcohol stove. Listening to the sound of Swainson's Thrush that eventually lulls me to sleep.