Monday, April 19, 2010

Last Leg

It never fails, whenever I start to feel proud of some accomplishment, I discover I've screwed up.

It was a beautiful sunny morning when I left Cannon Beach. I didn't get away till 8am because I had to wait for the coffee shop to open :-) Which wouldn't have been a big deal except I had to get around several points that were only passable at low tide. I wasn't sure when low tide was exactly, but it seemed to be rising already.

I made good time on the smooth beach in the sunshine. I even saw a group of Tufted Puffins bobbing in the water. They nest on Haystack Rock near Cannon Beach. (FYI: A group of puffins has many collective nouns, including a "burrow", "circus", "colony", "improbability", and "puffinry" of puffins.)

It was a little tricky getting round the final point - had to take off my boots to wade a creek and then scramble round slippery rocks with sharp barnacles over the rising water. So I was quite proud of myself when I made it to the other side.

But soon after I started to wonder if the beach matched where I was supposed to be. Sure enough, I'd gone one point too far. I'd thought I was at Hug Point but I'd really been at Arch Cape. No wonder it had been tricky - I wasn't supposed to be there!

The thing was, the route goes inland before Arch Cape. I didn't much feel like going back, especially with the rising water. With the help of my iPhone maps and GPS I managed to sneak through the yard of a beach house and follow back roads to join back up with the route. In the end it worked out well, maybe even a little nicer than the official route.

After my morning on the beach, I spent the afternoon back in the forest, muddier after yesterday's rain. Some even bigger big trees here in Oswald West State Park. Some rivaled the big stumps.

I also saw three red bellied or Oregon newts. They were all in about a 100m stretch of the trail and quite lethargic, probably because it was still quite cool in the forest.

Later, on Cape Falcon I saw five garter snakes. The first three had very dark, dull coloring, but the next two were brighter. They were out soaking up the heat of the sun on south facing slopes.

There used to be a campsite in Oswald West State Park, but a tree fell down and they decided it was too dangerous and closed it. It seems a bit odd, trees have fallen on the trail all over the place and they don't close them. And you can still picnic in the camping area. Maybe they think the trees only fall at night? I was hoping I might be able to sneak in and use the campsite even though it was closed. By the time I got there I was ready to call it a day. But the campsite is right beside the trail to a busy beach and there were people everywhere. Camping there without anyone noticing seemed improbable. (In hindsight I wonder if they might have been happy to find an excuse to close the campsite. It imagine it would have been a real surfer and party hangout.)

Q. How can you tell you're within a kilometer of a road?
A. You start to see people.

Or from the other perspective, if you want to get away from people, just walk a kilometer from the nearest road. Actually, less than a kilometer if it's uphill. There were probably a hundred people at the beach, but ten minutes walk past there were none. Which was a good thong because I was looking for somewhere to camp where I wouldn't be discovered. I eventually found a spot. I'd been on my feet for eight hours with only short breaks and I was glad to stop. Unfortunately, as is common along here, the highway is close to the coast and I could hear the traffic going by. Especially the logging trucks, which seemed incongruous with my camp in the midst of the few remining giant trees. Cognitive dissonance.

The forecast was for rain to start in the night but I awoke to a dry tent for the first time, always more pleasant to pack!

The route from here crossed the highway, climbed 1500 ft over Neahkahnie Mountain and then descended to return to the highway only a few kilometers after it left. As much as I dislike walking on the highway, I decided to forego going over the mountain since I had another reasonably long day ahead.

I wad glad it was early in the day and not too much traffic. There's almost no shoulder and the logging trucks don't like to make room for anyone. I had to shake my head at one point when there was a sign for the Oregon Coast Cycling Route. At that point there was about two inches of shoulder. Wishing don't make it so.

I reached the town of Manzanita just after 8am and was happy to discover a coffee shop open already. A latte and a muffin primed me to hit the beach.

From here the trail goes down a long peninsula at the end of which you need to get a boat to ferry you across. I phoned the number on the map and it rang and rang and rang. I looked at the alternate route - about 15 km of walking on the highway - yuck. After ringing a dozen times someone finally answered and thankfully the ferry was arranged.

The ten km down the beach of the peninsula took about an hour and a half. On the phone they'd said they pick up at the point so I called from there. From across the river she tried to spot me with binoculars. It turned out I wasn't quite in the right spot. I was supposed to head upstream a little, but not to disturb the seals. Sure enough, there was a big group of seals flaked out on the sand. I don't think I disturbed them, only one or two even got up the energy to raise their heads to look at me.

It was a quick trip across the river. The guy on the boat said they had a "walker" working for them. He came out and said hello. He'd walked the entire Oregon Coast Trail a few years ago. He was quite disappointed to hear I was only hiking for five days and tried to convince me to at least take two more days to go round Three Capes.

Soon after, the rain arrived. Never too hard, but it continued for the rest of the day off and on. It would stop long enough for me to take off my rain pants and then it would start up again.

There was supposed to be a county park campground just before Garibaldi. I managed to find it, but it wasn't near the beach and didn't seem too appealing. I decided to keep going to Garibaldi. It didn't turn out to be too appealing either - more industrial than touristy. Two rather seedy looking bars ("Bikers Welcome"), a Dairy Queen, and, thankfully, a coffee shop. Thank goodness Oregon likes its espresso! I passed the bus stop and there was a bus to Tillamook in an hour. I headed for the coffee shop. They were in the process of closing so I scarfed down a latte and a raspberry scone. Still with time to kill I stopped at the Dairy Queen to satisfy a craving for salt and grease with an order of french fries.

I thought Tillamook might offer some nicer places to stay, but if so I didn't find them. There was a Holiday Inn but it was out in big box land on the outskirts of town. So I ended up here in a rather low end motel. But it has free wifi and it's close to the bus stop. And as far as Google tells me, the restaurant next door is one of the few decent options.

So I'm showered and fed and I'm out of the rain. And I'm set to catch the bus back to Portland tomorrow. Mission accomplished, despite a few hiccups.

Location:2nd St,Tillamook,United States


  1. Hooray! Looking forward to seeing all the photos. And you of course! :-)