Milage: 0 - and no photos either! You can always peep my IG though.
I slept deeper than I have in a long time. That black dreamless sleep, that comes with physical or emotional exhaustion, or both. I woke at birdsong.
This site was unfortunately populated enough that I couldn't just squat to pee outside my tent, I had to walk a good ways through the camp. Those first few steps did not work at all, my feet said no! They were very painful steps, but they worked themselves out more or less by the time I made it to the bathroom. My knee was ok, it just really needed some rest.
My period had arrived. Of course. I wadded up toilet paper and wedged it between my crotch and tights. I'm not wearing undies, nor did I pack any and in this moment I wish I had.
I made it up in my mind, while drinking coffee water and eating my granola protein slop, that I was going to take public transit to my next sleep site. I needed to cover ground, but I also still needed rest. Much of the next section was road anyway, and I don't think that counts for much trail.
Today I was not the first one to pack out of camp, I was the second. No Brexit today, she's out of order.
I walked slowly, heading south through town. I googled the nearest grocery store: Price N Pride. That'll do.
It's a small town kinda grocery store, but it's really nice. They have a wonderful produce section and nice trail food choices. I grab tampons and on a whim, I grab some KT tape for my knee and ankle, just to try it out.
I peer in at the deli counter. They have 6 kinds of potato salad... That must mean something I think. A very cheerful curvy woman of about 50, who applied little crystals and glitter at the corner of her eyes greeted me. I found her makeup really pleasing and she was so nice to me. She let me try all the potato salads and I settled for a pound of the Northwest variety and some coffee. A couple of construction workers were picking up their lunches too, the oldest of them who had a thick but attractively cigarette scared voice was flirting with the crystal eyed woman. I liked this place.
"What're doing young lady, you on a trip or something?" He turned to me.
"I am, I'm hiking along the Oregon coast."
"The whole thing?"
"I'm trying too, yeah" I say this with nervous laughter.
Without patronizing me and without making me feel creeped out, he told me to be very careful out there as a woman and to get some mace. He told me that he came here on a vacation to the area once 35 years ago and never left.
"This is a really beautiful and special place," he said. And it's true. The Northwest is a magical treasure of a land.
"You have fun out there, and be safe."
I grab a box of maple cake donuts on the way out. I'll never be able to justify buying them in my regular life.
I have about two hours till my bus comes. I sit outside in the wind and sun, eating donuts, potato salad and drinking coffee.
Panic strikes me, my trekking poles!
Like magic the cashier who checked me out found me outside and brought them to me.
"Oh my gosh, I would have killed myself if I left these here! Thank you."
"Well now, we wouldn't let you do that! Keep them safe." He says and pats my shoulder.
The old man on the bench next to me says "don't you worry girl we all got your back."
I smiled at all of these gentle and sweet little interactions.
My mom calls at the perfect time. We haven't talked in so long I thought we were on the outs. We catch up about life and she offers to send me some boiled peanuts (a strange southern delicacy). I figure Florence is a safe bet, since it'll take me at least 3 days to get there.
Eventually my bus arrives, $3 to Beverly Beach. It does it's rounds around town before heading south. A woman sits next to me and cranes her neck over to make eye contact with me.
"I just need to get my shit done. Need to pay my bills. Everyone keeps gettin' in my way. Motherfucker OWES me money. Kicked his ass outta Michigan. I ain't given' him shit."
She's grinding her teeth. Meth. I look out the window and pretend to hear nothing.
The bus rattles down the highway and past a few beaches I could be walking today, thankfully some of them I've been on before so I don't feel too bad.
I'm dropped off near a sheer cliff side facing the ocean and a very busy 101 to cross. I move in up to the state park, check in and head to the hiker biker site.
Two men are there, neither of them hikers or bikers. The older of the two introduces himself to me as Steve. He has long white hair and a beard, probably about 60. He is wide eyed at me and his gaze lingers on me a little longer than feels comfortable to me.
It's a large site and I poke around trying to find the best spot. Some spots are too rocky, or too grassy.
"Do you need help?"
"No, I'm ok thank you."
I put my sun glasses on so he can't see my eyes. I move to the farthest part of the camp area. As I begin to set up, I can see him watching me like a hawk. I don't want to sleep here, where he can just watch me from his perch.
I move around all awkwardly. I go and get some water and I notice a whole area tucked away in the woods a cove of large spruce, it's perfect and hidden from his eyesight.
I move all my gear and pitch my tent there. It's a great little spot. I wash my long tights in the sink of the bathroom and set them on a picnic table in the only patch of sun by the main camp area.
20 minutes later while sitting in my tent he brings them to me.
"You left these and I didn't want you to loose them."
I don't bother explaining it to him. I just hang them on a tree near by. As he leaves he looks over his shoulder at me several time to stop and stare.
Ohh you creepy fuck, I think.
I make dinner sitting in my tent. I look up and he is peering in at me from the road. My stomach knots.
Motherfucker! That sick fuck. All I can imagine is him trying to mess with me in the middle of the night, I can't get that out of my head.
I head to the ranger booth.
"He's making me feel really uncomfortable and... Is it possible to move locations?"
"Aren't you checking out today?"
"No, you checked me in an hour ago."
"Oh... Well, it'll be $15 bucks extra."
"Thank you for your help."
I walk away. Dick doesn't fucking get what it feels like to be preyed upon.
I decide to wait it out till dark and relocate in a stealthy area. And maybe more people will show up later.
He peers in at me again from the road.
I shuffle around a bit, listen to the birds and eat my dinner. I see the flash of long brown hair, a female form and a bike. Oh yes!
I walk up to the main camp area and walk right up to a solo girl my age.
"Are you alone?"
"...yes," she says with slight alarm.
"Let's camp together! Because that dude up there is a creepy old fuck. There's a really good spot down here."
I realize how brash and direct I'm being with her and I hope I'm not freaking her out. I suddenly feel very self conscious.
As she sets up her hammock and I tell her about my interaction with him.
"Umm, yeah. I'd definitely be pretty creeped out by that."
We both suddenly feel bad for making assumptions about the old man. We agree that he's probably just terribly lonely. I feel like I was being overly paranoid, but where do you draw the line? He made me feel threatened.
We're both conflicted by it.
She rides to the booth to see if he's registered, and he is.
"Yeah, the ranger said he's just a weird guy. He comes here off and on."
We both relax.
Her mother calls and she spends a lot of time telling her mom that she's ok, that she's safe and with a friend.
"My mom has no idea I'm out here alone. I feel really bad because I lied to her about it, told her I've been with a friend this whole time."
We learn about each other. She's from Olympia, WA and comes from a Jewish family. She's carrying a small guitar and has been doing gigs down the coast.
"Most Jewish mothers are huge worriers, but my mom blows the rest out of the water. It's crazy."
She tells me her mother is suffering from a benign brain tumor and it's affected her neurologically. We talk about family, being a lone woman on the road, our scariest nights. It was nice to have her here.
We went about our own camp business. The thrushes and sparrows were thick in the woods next to us and sang loudly. As dusk gathered I could hear her playing and singing softly from her hammock. The tide was shifting and the air got cold, I burrowed into my sleeping bag. Her voice blended with the trees and thrush song, it was ethereal and a beautiful way to fall asleep.
My bum ankle had me laid up in a hotel for two days, this unexpected expense put a dent in my budget. Interested in supporting me, buying me a coffee or a burger? You can donate here!