Still in my tent, the tide was pulling out... The beach was long and the dawn was a dark gloaming. I saw lights of what I thought was a boat patrolling. It would flash round and round and then I would see the form of a body. I was so confused and for some reason it bewildered me. I realized it was people digging for razor clams, they looked like strange ghost lights in the darkness.
I made my coffee water and packed up. I didn't eat anything, I wasn't hungry, my morale was low.
I cut through the dunes and walked into Gearhart at 5am. Everything was closed and no one was on the main street except for me, an old woman and her dog and a lone crow cawing up on the power line. I clicked at him to make him notice me, he cocked his head curiously. I move through a cute neighborhood with adorable houses.
Popped on to highway 101, the main stretch of highway along the trail route to move into Seaside. Crabbers were hanging out on the bridges as I moved though the town, setting up traps and taking advantage of the super low tide. It began to mist heavily and the cold droplets cooled my hot sun burnt cheeks. This made me really happy. My tension from the night before was slowly melting.
I wandered into a coffee shop to charge up and use some wifi. The woman behind the counter was very friendly and reminded me that there was a hostel in town. I was debating getting a room for the night. I felt so drained from no sleep the night before. I called the hostel, but no one picked up.
I decided to camp out at the Safeway until a more reasonable hour for making phone calls for possible lodging.
I called at 9am while sipping coffee and eating a dry pop tart in the Safeway deli seating area. Still no pick up from the hostel. All the other hotels were ranging from $150 to $200+ for a night and most had no vacancy due to 4th of July weekend. What a great time to have planned a hike, huh?
I decide that I'll just push into Tillamook head where there's a primitive hiker biker camp right off the trail. I feel like crap. I sort my pack while a couple near me look at me strangely. An older women smiles at me with a look of amusement. I suppose I am a strange sight. I unashamedly remove my socks and tape up the hot spots on the balls of feet to prevent blistering, loosen up my shoes and hoist my pack. To Tillamook!
I walk through Seaside, down onto the busy beach, up in a neighborhood street and I find the trailhead.
Hmm. I start thinking about alternatives. I send Katelin and John (couple who started the trail on the same day as me, who I got in touch with via Instagram) a direct message giving them a heads up about trail conditions. I decide to take the trail despite the warning, just to see if it really is passable. I was really hoping to run into John and Katelin today. I was about 5 miles ahead of them.
And I'm off! Up and up, it's humid and cool but the climb heats me up. I'm rapidly shedding layers. Dripping sweat. There's old growth Sitka spruce, so huge. I feel my knees crunching, but they don't hurt. My left Achilles is a little tender though.
Swainson's thrush song is everywhere and I see a flash in a small tree snag. It perches in plain view of me, a very rare thing to have happen. These birds are quite shy and elusive. I freeze to watch. The bird is doing its strange dripping call, it almost sounds like a frog. I mimic this, pursing my lips to whistle the same pitch of its song. We exchange and have an odd conversation with each other, each chirp the bird does it bounces and flicks it wings out, like a little dance. It even looked at me! We were talking! How incredible.
All my tension and tiredness is gone. I tell myself to not rush, but to enjoy and absorb carefully and attentively. I feel amazing while I am climbing up. Mud everywhere and the air growing cooler as I start work around to the west side, the ocean air pushing up. Mushrooms, alder, wild mint, so many magic plants! I pick some and put them in the brim of my trucker hat. Giant silvery barked Sitka. I wonder what they've seen and what they know, that we don't.
I encounter a trail runner at rest and ask about the trail, he said its totally passable. A half a mile later I find it, a landslide that took out a chunk of the trail. I notice that someone has bushwhacked a way around it. An almost vertical climb in the slick mud. I ready myself... Everything going great and slip! The upper back of my right thigh catches a sharp point on a log. It hurts terribly, "fucking shit!" I yell. It feels like I cut myself really bad but I keep moving up over the slick spot until I've reached level trail to take a look. I access the damage. A good scratch. But its more impact damage than a cut. My flesh started to swell rapidly. It hurt and felt warm, but was tolerable. Blood ran down my leg. I wiped at it with my hand and gave it to the bark of a Sitka, "that was what you wanted, right?" I say to the forest.
I felt amazing and the woods oozed magic, I moved at a great pace. Such a beautiful and perfect specimen of a coastal rainforest. I felt so glad to be here and now and things I can't make words for. I wondered how I had even felt bad earlier. Who knew! I munched wild huckleberries as I dropped down on the north side of the headland and toward the cute little hiker biker shelters.
No one was there. I started to cook up some fancy ramen by the fire pit. A young couple day hiking wandered up. They asked what I was doing out here, and I described my journey. They were so enthusiastic and curious about what I was doing. Day hikers moved in and out of the area.
"Hello!" came a young woman's voice.
It was John and Katelin! We shook hands and nerded as thruhikers do, gear, route and maps. I gave Katelin some of my tape for her blisters. We poked around at the shelters. They creeped me out, I wanted to sleep in my little tent under the trees.
I went to the view point. The setting sun was so bright on the ocean, I could see a lighthouse. I felt so warm and happy compared to 12 hours ago.
I missed my boyfriend Daniel.
Other hikers arrived at the site. A bunch of kids with tons of gear came without water and there was none in the area. They were frustrated and talking loudly about it. Making a fire in the woods, when there was a perfectly good pit about 100 feet from their hammock site. I wanted to tell them to behave better. No use. I encourage Leave No Trace practices.
Night fell, I snuggled up in my sleeping bag. It was going to rain that night. I was kind of excited about it, I wanted to see how my cuben fiber shelter would hold up.
I drifted off to the hoot of an owl, the wind in towering spruce trees and the distant ocean moving in and out.