Mileage: 16.02 a mile was a car hitch.
I hear a peep, it's the darkness before dawn. My nice Seiko watch my father gave me glows the time: 4:15 am. I feel like shining any light on the darkness of the woods would just be rude and attract unwanted and unseen things. So I don't and I lay there sleepily.
Birdsong grows as light grows and I'm sitting up. Absolutely surprised that I slept so well. I actually really liked it, even though I was exposed and praying it wouldn't mist or rain or that I wouldn't have to battle a raccoon for the contents of my food bag. The moss provided extra cushion, it was really comfortable. See? Not so scary.
But still scary.
I make coffee water and have a tiny bite to eat. I was that sick nauseous hungry but I wasn't hungry. I didn't eat the night before because... Well because.
I take my first poop in the woods. Dug my cat hole 6 inches, did the deed, buried it and packed out my paper in a ziplock. Yes folks, pack out your poop paper. Lots of hand sanitizer.
I'm packed up and moving. I feel extra tired today, like my muscles just aren't in it and I'm winded quickly. I'm climbing the north side trail to Cape Falcon. I am seeing lots of nice flat spots to camp, places where people obviously come infrequently. I round a corner and there's John and Katelins tent, has to be them. I smile knowing I wasn't too alone that night.
These woods are still creepy I think, even in the morning. Scraggly little pines, ugly little trees, tangly blow downs... OUCH! I roll my ankle. I laugh painfully.
"FINE. You're not ugly... You're just, different."
I feel like I'm big cat bait. It's really quiet and dark on this side. The trail narrows and its all mud and spider webs and I can't see what's in front of me. Black green tunnels it feels like. Up and over and under logs. Navigating through some big tree falls. It's all very weird and not a very maintained trail. I don't snap any pictures, I just move.
Ever since last night I had been dreaming of sitting at the picnic tables overlooking all the surfers off Short Sands beach. "I'm gunna eat the shit outta some mac and cheese," I thought "with tuna!" I had been dreaming of it because it was safe and familiar to me, I've been to that part of Oswald West many times.
The trail gets pretty narrow at some points. For what feels like forever I am wading through chest deep salal and thimbleberry, getting smacked and scratched on the legs. Occasionally my hat snatched off my head by low hanging branches. I roll my ankle a few times, but catch it just so that I don't totally hurt myself. "What is going on, body?" I say.
I step into a larger, more open and older forest. I've been making a descent towards the beach, but I was still high up. I could smell where I was at and how close I was to the beach. I could smell the old fear on myself from last night. I could smell some kinda fungi I couldn't see. I could smell the tide was pulling out.
I smell things for a living, and I've heard that hiking like this changes your perception and keenness of scent. It's true.
A stellars jay is being very obnoxious about something and squawking a lot. A squirrel barks me. "Y'all are a pair of butts." I move on.
Rounding a corner I find a tarp set up and unused firewood. Probably a surfers hide out. I continue on the trail towards an amazing view.
I move towards a maintained area. I find a half eaten thimbleberry in the trail dirt. Then a half eaten salal berry down the way... A singular wild rose petal. Another thimble berry. Huh? Wild roses are done blooming for the most part. This is odd.
A massive old growth Sitka had fallen and the trail gets tricky, it's right on a cliff edge covered in salal. I realize just how sketch this trail is. The ground is soft and I just imagine it giving way under me.
And there it is, Smugglers Cove!
Tiny surfers dot the water. I feel much better now. Leaving behind that annoying touristy part of the North Coast. There will be more friendly hiker types, hippies, surfers, people who like to be in nature.
The trail here is well worn and very popular. I run into a couple day hiking the first people I've seen all day. They smell like clean laundry. I say hi, but they don't acknowledge me.
I'm getting hangry so I hike for a meal and blast through the woods, not too aggressively, but with purpose. The trail goes to pavement, and then I'm in the picnic area. I waste no time, water, stove, food bag, noms. It was delicious.
A woman eyes me curiously. My gear is scattered all over the picnic table. I get cold very quickly, so I change from shorts to tights and puffy with my base layer too still on. I wash my shorts in Dr. Bronners lavender soap I laced with an aged patchouli, a luxury item. There's no hot water here, so it's ice cold. I hang it to dry on a cable wire fence near me. I'm foggy from the food. It was a lot. I feel like a nap on the beach. I'm so drowsy.
Katelin shows up, she's hangry. We catch up a little and I find out they left just a half an hour before I did the night before. John shows up shortly after and asks us both in a deeply mysterious tone, "do you know about the beeswax?" Katelin and I exchange a sort of stifling snarky laughter. "No! We know nothing of the beeswax!"
John tells us that Spanish sailors during the 16th century were said to have buried treasure on the Neahkahnie mountain. This was the next headland we were to pass through on our trek. During the 1800s a lot of excavation happened in order to locate the treasure, but none has ever been found. Some say the "treasure" is just beeswax, which was a highly valuable commodity at the time. Hunks of sea polished beeswax still comes to shore to this day...
"I think I might hitch into Manzanita," I say. My ankle was warm and a little fussy. They both talk about the spectacular views, the gnarly climb, how much fun it'll be. Desire for company and comradery, I join them despite the pleas of my ankle.
Before I know it, it's up, up, up! It doesn't stop till we reach the top. So many beautiful plants along the way.
We found a huge stand of Indian pipe, a very rare parasitic flower that doesn't contain chlorophyll. It's over harvested, so if you ever see it, look with your eyes, not your hands!
Before I know it, we're up top. Looking down the coast line. Looking at all the beach and the bay we're going to have to cross eventually. As we decend and round the corner of the mountain we're met with an icy blast of air. The fluctuation of temperatures on the coast are just insane at times. I'm shivering, but we're moving at a good clip.
We start heading towards our road walk to town via highway 101 when an elderly couple drives up and stops us, "y'all don't look like regular hikers..." The gentleman said the shoulder on 101 is much too narrow and he'd hate to see us walk it, so he offers us a lift into town if we wait down at the base of the road.
His wife, an elegant woman with silver, blue and purple hair picks us up. We're wisked away in warm leathery luxury to the town of Manzanita.
After too much Mexican food, we cruise our way to the hiker biker camp with beers and good snacks. We settled in and in a food drunk dirty daze, we all sat and cracked open a beer. We reminisced over the day's activities and surveyed our camp mates. Hikers are rare, cyclists common. Before we became too inebriated we set up our tents. I gear nerded with an older cyclist dude near me. He was curious about my cuben tent, which does seem to get a lot of questions.
I called Daniel and it was so good to hear his voice. I mostly talked at him telling everything up until I had left. I missed him. I wandered around the RV people and the car camping people while we talked and I sipped my beer.
When we hung up Katelin and Daniel were talking to a guy about our age named Dylan. He wasn't a hiker or a cyclist, but he walked the road for charities. Freedomraines.org is his deal. He knew the area well and recommend the best wifi, food and coffee things in town.
We all gathered on the beach to watch fireworks against the backdrop of the mountain we climbed that day. We deliriously stumbled through the thick dune sand back to our tents... The moment my head touched the pillow I was sleeping deeply.
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!