I'm the first one awake, my rustling awakens one of the cyclist ladies and she asks to borrow my lighter so she can start a fire. She curls up next to the heat in the cool morning. I'm restless and feeling the need to move quickly, I have to hitch a boat ride across a jetty and its best to do it at low tide.
I also need coffee, I'm out of my sticks of instant coffee. This will add on a mile or two, but I'm ok with that. Coffee is life blood and thankfully it hasn't been giving me issues with digestion or heartburn like it had a week ago. I'm packed up and ready to go in under an hour.
As I walk into town I pray my foot warms up and the pain subsides. I order a 20oz coffee and egg sandwich. I inhaled them both. Sipping the last bits of my coffee the elderly man next to me who was looking over stock exchange rates on his smart phone asks, "are you a traveler?" I describe my journey so far and where I hope to end up. He was very curious of my water crossings and told me he was a boat captain. He told me Garibaldi would be challenging for me to get a ride and definitely call ahead, but the Nehalem jetty shouldn't be a problem. He had a light accent and I discovered he was Australian and had moved here in the 60s. Somehow we began to discuss Rugby and he got very lively and smacked his hand on the table. "These players have integrity! You muck up and you're out!" He had broken every finger, his nose seven times, all his teeth were capped, his ear had been sewn back on because another player bit it off and his knees were shot. He apologized for getting on his soapbox, but I was simply amused. He wished me luck and we we were off to our own respective worlds.
I said goodbye to Neahkahnie mountain and said thanks to Manzanita as I turned to head south.
Ankle pain was coming in and out. I relied on my trekking poles to take off the pressure. Beach waking can be monotonous. Water, sand and some land. The occasional sea creature or bird, maybe a human and their dog, depending on the beach and location. Watching the shape and condition of the waves. Walk, walk, walk.
I pause every now and again and my right foot is flooded with relief. This isn't good I think.
I think I can see John and Katelin behind me, maybe a mile or two off. I write GOOD MORNING to them in the sand hoping they see it. They've told me that they sometimes follow my sand tracks. I put two dots in the O's of GOOD... They look like eyes, but really they're tits. I'm 31, but still about 13.
I look at my tracks... My angry right foot has been leaving a drag mark in the sand. I never drag my feet.
I reach the end of the beach, a jetty juts out into the ocean. A small side trail leads off the beach, I see the OCT blaze. I'm rolling through some beautiful grassy dune trail. This means I am close to my boat ride I need to find!
I can smell horse and I see some manure a little ways down. I round a corner and there's the trail up and down the jetty and in the inlet. I can see some people in a boat checking their crab traps. Hurry I think! I start to stress... There no trail down on to the beachy area that I can see at all. In order to get down on to the sand to get picked up, I need to climb down these huge boulders. They don't look stable at all, and they're slick with algae and seaweeds. I find what looks like a spot where others have climbed down, based on the flattened grasses... I shimmy down. My foot slips! I apologize before hand and I rub away some of the algae from the rock so I can get down without breaking myself. I chuck my trekking poles down into the sand. I twist and turn... I made it!
I scoop my poles up and head straight to the nearest boat, two dudes it seems. They're still checking traps. I'm stomping through water and very wet sand, I don't care! I need to catch a ride before I'm trapped in here by the high tide. I wave them down, they notice me. "HEY! CAN YOU GIVE ME A RIDE TO THAT DOCK?" They speed over, and I confirm, "is it ok if you can give me a ride to that dock over there? I'm sorry if I'm interrupting your crabbing!"
"It's ok! But you know they offer a shuttle, right?"
"I didn't! My guide book said I could just wave someone down."
He pulls the boat up, but doesn't beach it. I get my feet soaked and sandy but I'm in. And we're off!
"You're hiking this trail alone?" says the driver.
"Sort of, but yes. There's a couple I met when I started that I hike with sometimes and actually, they should be here any moment."
Like magic, I see Katelin and John walking the path before climbing down into the inlet. I wave to them and point to the area I climbed down on.
"It's really cool that you're doing this. You're going to remember it for the rest of your life." says the driver again.
I smile at this thought.
His friend is totally silent the whole time. I asked him how his day was, he just nods at me.
There's positives and negatives to everything. I am a lone woman, this makes things like hitching a boat ride pretty easy. But it makes sleeping by busy beaches or roads, very scary. Katelin and John have each other for support in scary moments, but have a slightly harder time lucking out in situations like this.
They pull up to the dock, I jump out and I thank them profusely. They indicate to me in a wordless manner they they won't be helping my friends across the jetty.
I walk up the dock, it smells like salt, dried wood and rotten fish. I love this smell, it reminds me of my childhood in the Florida Keys. I feel like I was dropped into a movie set.
I can see John and Katelin waving their arms at another boat. They yell something back at them, but they're not helping. I locate the nearest employee looking person, "my friends and I are hiking the Oregon Coast Trail and they need a lift across the jetty, do you offer that, can you help them?"
He just kind of blinks at me. "Uhh, yeah. I'm not on the clock. You can ask inside and someone will help you out."
I feel stressed out for them. I go inside. A woman is on a computer and ignoring me. This is feeling oddly familiar. A large family is inside too. The woman finally noticed me and I explain the situation, my friends need a lift.
"Well, they'll have to pay before hand."
How? I say in my head.
"I know they're good for it, can they pay once they're over here?"
"I need payment upfront."
I pull out some cash, but I notice one of the other dock workers getting a boat ready. I'm happy to pay for them, but I didn't want to put them in a bind if they got a free ride instead. I didn't want to be presumptuous.
The young boy I talked to before came and told me one of the workers is going to grab them. The woman behind the counter was distracted helping the big family. I wandered outside, they were getting their lift!
Once they were over, we caught up a little. I felt bad because I got a free ride, they ended up paying in the end. The three of us pick the trail back up again, walking along the southern side of the jetty.
"We came up with a trail name for you," says John.
I am absolutely delighted, "Oh my god, what?!"
"Brexit! Because you're always up and outta camp first."
I laugh, "That is a name I will accept!"
The OCT isn't the kind of trail where you get a new name, so it felt special. Big trails like the Pacific Crest or Appalachian folks are often bestowed or get a new "trail name". Now I need to think of one for these two!
We spill out onto the beach. It's like a MadMax movie, driftwood huts line the beach, it looks desolate and post apocalyptic.
We split at at the entrance to Rockaway, apparently, the original home of the corn dog. John says that the famous corndog place is closed, sadly. I'm feeling antsy so I keep walking instead of taking a town detour. Corn dogs sound amazing.
I'm cruising through Rockaway Beach, because the tide is low there's rocks and shells and sand dollars everywhere! This distracts me from the foot pain. I scan the ground and pick up little rocks and shells and good intact sand dollars. I find bits of rock that I think are agate, or sunstone... A bit of real sea glass even! I put them all in my hip pouch.
I laugh at myself for doing this. A hiker collecting rocks! The gear I carry is based on ultralight principles, I carry what I need and avoid superfluous extras. The lighter your pack, the more comfortable you are. A trimmed down tarot deck, a bottle of Dr. Bronners and some Trader Joes tea tree face wipes are my luxuries and to some, that's considered a lot! Or outlandish even.
I pocket more rocks and one that looks like a bear, or a capybara. I can't decide.
Its sunny, it's not hot, but the sun still manages to cook you. I take shelter about a half mile out before I turn into a county park where I might camp for the night.
I take off my shoes and climb under a driftwood shelter. I pile cool sand around my ankle. It feels so good. I watch waves. I feel drowsy and I lay back into the sand. Looking up I see graffiti everywhere, written by someone named Abby.
I close my eyes, feeling sore but good and relaxed. Happy...
"Hello? Hi. This might sound weird, but are you Abby?"
I'm slightly startled, a man is standing in front of me. He looks stoned.
"See, my son plays over here all the time and is obsessed with whoever Abby is, and if you're her, it'll just make his day."
I relax. His 8ish year old son runs up, "Are you Abby!?"
I feel really bad, because I don't wanna let this kid down, but I'm not feeling creative enough to lie and spin a story. Plus, who wants to be an imposter?
"I'm sorry, I'm not Abby. I wish I was so your mystery can be solved. I'm just a hiker taking a nap."
"DO YOU KNOW WHERE SHE IS?" The boy asks intently.
"I don't, I'm sorry kiddo."
He wanders off sadly. His father smiles and waves goodbye at me and wishes me luck.
I wonder who Abby is too. Whoever they are. I imagine a woman with dark long hair for some reason and soft facial features. That she smells like driftwood smoke and hot sand. Everyone wants to know who she is, and no body knows.
Feeling rested I gear back up.
I'm limping. I don't like this. I have a resupply in Garibaldi to grab. I gotta walk some railroad tracks to get there. An old timey train runs periodically along the tracks.
I can hear it behind me, toot toot!
It cruises by slowly. People on board look and gawk at me. I keep walking. It's beautiful out.
I get to the post office and sort my food. I send my shells and rocks back home. My pack weighs a little more now. I decide on a burger and beer, to decide on my foot and where I'm gunna sleep tonight. The sun has cooked my brain and I'm pink in the cheeks.
Another chipotle burger and two IPAs. I charge all my devices. I decide to walk back to the Barview county campground. It's $19 to stay as a hiker biker! A "registration fee" they say. $8 after that. I get my own site, which I don't like. Where's my community of cyclists and body powered travelers? Nowhere apparently. The ground is grassy, but rocky under that making it difficult to pitch my tent. I'm exhausted and I have a blister on the ball of my foot. I pay $1.50 for a shower. I'm cranky, I don't like this place.
I crawl into my downy nest, listening to the goings on of the park, my foot aches badly. I'm getting worried about it. Somehow, sleep finds me fast.
The unforeseen expense of having to stay in a hotel for two days due to a stressed and injured ankle has me running low on funds for my trip. If you would like to support me, if you like my writing and would like to help support running this website, I gladly accept donations! Your support is very deeply appreciated.