All night I am roused by smells. The place I am camped at is in a strange spot. The opening to the beach from the cliff walls channels in all this wind, it carries through the campground and wafts over this wooded hill I am on.
I smell hair and tooth paste, someone's bean soup, bbq, shampoo, dog, grasses, low tide, a mans deodorant...
I catch smells late into the night thinking someone is next to me, but nothing is there. The moon lights up spots on the ground in weird silvery clumps.
Night is strange.
I wake up to thick birdsong. As I pack up, I wanted to say goodbye to the girl I met the night before but she was tucked away in her little hammock still snoozing. I peek up at the main hiker biker camp area to see the creepy old man from the night before all packed up and sitting on a bench looking into the woods. I hope that I don't run into him on the road.
I wander through the quiet campground and hit the beach, it's beautiful and windswept from the night before. There are rock designs in the sand and so many neat bits of agate and jasper. They're getting very distracting. I pick up only the most unique stones and put then in my side pouches.
I'm moving through a lovely beach with vacation homes and fancy hotels, occasionally broken by cliff walls and big hills. I can hear the hum of 101. As I walk I scan the ground for neat little rocks and sea glass. I'm only carrying a liter of water and I'm low on food, so I don't mind collecting the weight. Very soon I'll be moving into Newport where I'll get my resupply and send off my beach treasures.
I text Katelin telling her I'm heading into Newport. They're a few days ahead of me and I'm hoping I can bump into them again. I like the camaraderie of fellow hikers. She shoots back telling me they're hanging out and taking surfing lessons and to not miss the Rouge brewery. I'm iffy about drinking... but it sounds good too.
I put my head down and cruise for a few good miles. My feet are starting to feel better, they hurt, but it's a tolerable not dangerous pain. It's the pain of adaption and adjustment. One of my hiking heros, Carrot Quinn had graciously sent me a message via Instagram early on and told me to take it easy when I first started. She told me that muscles will adapt quickly, but with walking like this, your tendons and joints will take a much longer time to grow stronger and I see what she means now.
The unfortunate aspect of this trail, is that sometimes there's no way around high mileage days due to spacing on camp sites. Beach camping is very complicated out here and you can't just pitch up anywhere and I prefer to not be sleeping along side highway 101 or beach access points. Humans are frightening unpredictable creatures.
I approach Yaquina Lighthouse and pause on a rock and carin point to grab a bite to eat and find the connecting points between here and over the cape. What I love about this route is the small hidden trails and secret spots it takes you through.
I find a little creeklet and next to it a small trail leading up into the neighborhood. There's a rickety bridge I cross over and I climb up into a twisted little trail laden with salal. I move up into the neighborhood and off to a small section of 101.
I'm craving a blended coffee drink. This seems to be my default craving out here. The sugars and fats, coffee and chocolate hitting all my full on menstruating desires.
I round the road up to the lighthouse and stop at a roadside coffee stand. I decide on a blended frozen mocha. As I order and wait for it an older man in a minivan also ordering gazes at my body with a smirk. It doesn't matter how scrappy I look, short shorts draws bad eyes and, I don't feel uncomfortable by it but I meet his gaze and lock eyes with him until he is uncomfortable. How's that feel minivan man?
I down the drink in minutes and chuck it in a street side garbage can. I'm walking through a construction area and I gotta pee something fierce. The potra-potties have locks on them and I hope I can find a tucked away area on the beach.
I descend down a small beach trail access and pee right there. I've been perfecting the art of speedy-stealthy peeing. A couple around the corner right as I pull my shorts up. Hah! I think. Not caught.
I'm back to beach cruising until I reach Newport. I'm making good time and I figure I can grab a bite to eat, resupply and charge my devices while I'm in town and then move on to my next camp site.
I walk past lots of folks beach walking. A guy looks at me and ask, "how long have you been walking?"
"Since south of Astoria," I say.
"That's awesome. Have fun!"
I roll into Newport. It's a really cute town. I walk down the main drag and eye up restaurants while I walk to the post office. As I arrive, again, I have to pee so bad. I pick up my box and begin to sort what I need and don't need. I sent myself too much food and I'm sorting though what I eat an don't eat. I leave myself my dinners and lots of bars, instant coffee, whey, hemp seeds and granola. I've got lots leftover in the box and I'm a little frustrated having to send it back. Feeling foolish for sending too much.
I eye a black man with bleached hair and a whitened right eye walking into the post office. He has a big pack and raggely clothes like myself.
"Would you like some food?" I say to him as he walks by.
"Oh man, yeah. What'do you got in there? I'm real hungry. Just got into town and I was wanting to get a PO Box here. Think I'm gunna stay a while."
"Help yourself, take what you want. I'm hiking and sent myself too much food."
"Yeah I'm really hungry. Can I have the whole thing?"
"Sure! Enjoy it."
I load up my pack, it's so heavy now. I make a beeline back into the old town to find food and a coffee shop. As I walk down the street, I see a white hair and bearded man with a pack leaning up against a telephone pole and my stomach flips. IT'S FUCKING STEVE, I think. From the campground! I slink into the restaurant and I'm just within his eyeshot, but behind a door so he can't see me too well.
I can see him, but I'm pretty sure he can't see me from my vantage point. I take a good hard look. His beard is shorter and he's wearing different clothes. Wait a second... that's not him. It's just another old man with a white beard. I think. You're a fucking asshole, Britton. It's not even him! Don't be so quick to judge for christ sake. But I have to be cautious.
I order a salad that's too small and doesn't have enough chicken on it, I pay $10 for it. They don't have wifi so I move to another location. I tap out words on my phone and try to keep up with blogging. It's kinda hard. Some days you roll into camp and you don't even wanna pitch your tent or cook food. You just want sweet, sweet sleep.
I get a post published and I feel good about it. I decide that with the donation money I've gotten from folks - I'll be sending them personal postcards. I'm a little in awe that people care and are reaching out to me. It makes me feel less alone.
I hit the street and out to the beach access. A man and woman in technical hiking gear stop me and ask if I'm long distance hiking. It makes me happy that people can pinpoint aspects of my gear and tell exactly what I'm doing out here. He asks about my cuben bag and how well it's treating me.
"It's great. And my cuben tent is pretty wonderful too."
They ask about what it's like being a solo woman and how I've been dealing with that. I tell them about my interaction with the old man at the camp ground and how nervous that made me. I also acknowledge that it's part of the deal when adventuring.
"Well, we just met three guys, Andrew and The Guys from Tennessee," that's what they call them. "They should be at the next hiker biker camp, look out for them. They're great guys and I'm sure you could camp near them," they tell me.
"Oh nice, I'll totally look out for them!"
As we part ways the man says to his wife, "see her shoes? They're not boots. That's smart."
The sun is blasting and I roll up my sleeves to prevent hard tan lines. I'm feeling good and relaxed. The camp isn't too far away and I've got lots of daylight.
I can hear the jetty sirens. They sound like odd wolf calls. They seem irregular to my ears and I can't quite figure them out. I assume they're there to alert boats of the jetty rocks.
I find the beach access and then crawl through a dune and up some stairs. A bunch of shirtless guys with their pit bulls are at the top and ask how long I've been on the road. "Ahh, about 16 days now?" I say.
"Alone?" they ask as their sweet pit pulls sniff and wag at me. I pat their butts. I really miss animals and pets I realize.
"Dannng girl. Well more power to you and good luck out there."
I'm approaching my first big bridge crossing. I have realized over time that I have a bit of a fear of heights. I pound up the stairs and relax as the shoulder is nice and wide. I come down the other side and spot the Rouge brewery. I check the time: 5:38PM.
Fine. Two beers I decide.
I sit at the front of the brewery dumping sand from my shoes. I walk in and I can't tell where to go, because I'm in the middle of their production facility. I spot a mother with her two kids.
"Which way is it to the bar?" I ask.
She points to a sign, "That way and the bathrooms are right over there. Woman are barley and men are hops, just so you know."
"It ought to be the other way around, as hops are estrogenic," I say with laughter.
I find the bar and it's a fantastic tucked away wooden little place. Very worn in and well loved. I sit next to a blond haired man in suspenders and I can feel him looking over my gear. The sides of his head are shaved and the top left curly and frumpy. I'm immediately curious of him, because he doesn't seem normal, or of this regular world. I'm red and hot feeling as I sit down. My weariness doesn't set in till I actually sit on the stool. I feel multiple eyes on me at this point, I feel like I'm making scene as I try to tuck away and hide my bag awkwardly. The bartender slides a free taster beer my way and I eye the massive beer menu.
"You're hiking the coast aren't you?" asks the blond man in suspenders. I assume he's about my age. I can't exactly place his accent, it sounds borderline Scottish, but with Irish flecks.
"I am, yeah" I reply.
We talk trail conditions and I learn that he's a hitchhiker originally from Sweden but has Scottish and English parents. He tells me this as he stands, he's very tall and I kind of wished he wasn't leaving quite yet, but he disappears as soon as I become more curious.
I drink two 7% coffee (cold brew) IPAs and eventually they do another round of free tasters for the whole bar. A group of constriction workers tell me when the winds pick up and calm down during the day and wish me luck on my trip.
I leave the bar feeling well buzzed and good. The air is cool and the breeze is light. I take a short winding walk through a sandy path in the woods, it drops me off on a paved trail to the campground. I enter a whole winding park full of RVs. I walk around until I find what looks to be the hiker biker camp. I see three guys sitting at a picnic table cooking over small stoves.
"Is this hiker biker?" I yell.
"YEAH! We've been waiting for you Britton!" they yell back.
"Hah, did y'all talk to that couple in Newport again? They told me about you guys. You're Andrew and you're both from Tennessee?" I ask them while walking up.
"Yep! We totally ran back into them and they told us about you. Sit!" one of the Tennessee boys say.
We all cook dinner together and joke around. We instantly get along. The Tennessee boys make pancakes with wild blackberries and we all talk about being out here and the fun and strange moments we've had. I'm envious of the wide array of food cyclists get to eat and what they can pack. They jokingly rub it in.
I pitch my tent and they want to touch the fabric, since it's a rather unusual material to be seen in camps like this. The mosquitoes are getting to all of us and darkness is rolling in, so we crawl into our tents.
The howl of the jetty sirens goes well into the night, I think of tsunamis and the relative ease of the day I've had and I drift off - wondering what weird adventures tomorrow will bring.