The first few miles of the Oregon Coast Trail were gorgeous. The trail wound around coves, in and out of fern rich forest. Trail markers however, are few and far between. We had spent a decent amount of time researching the trail, but had a hard time finding much information on it. Our bigest resource, provided by the North Coast Trail Association (http://www.coasttrailhttp://www.coasttrails.org/maps.html), was not nearly as detailed or accurate as Halfmile's PCT maps. Markers seemed to be sporadically placed, and many times we would arrive at a lookout (dead end) and have to reverse azimuth. When we did finally see a sign it was a relief.
The trail could also use some maintenance. Certain sections were terribly overgrown, to the point where we wished we had a machete! Seemingly out of nowhere, the trail would dump you onto a long stretch of beach. The stark contrast between nearly claustrophobic sections of inland trail, and the wide open long stretches of soft sand beach were immense. All that aside, the trail never failed to lead us to another beautiful view. Towering over the angry surf, large rock formations are scattered off the shore. These tall islands were accented by stunted windswept trees.
As we came to the end of our second day in Oregon we came across a local who told us about a perfect camping spot at a place called secret beach! Guess it's not much of a secret!?
Affordable beachfront property!!!
The next day we paid for our beautiful beachfront location with miles of beach and highway walking. We were unable to make it to a state park, so we decided to set up camp right on the beach. Now, I had always remembered beach camping to be fun. That is because I was a kid when I did it, and I didn't worry about clean up and food prep and all the joys that sand can ruin... our old friend Mr. Wind was up to no good, so we built a wind block out of beachwood and settled in for the evening.
Luckily after this tiring stretch of hike, we found ourselves at Humbug State Park. This is a do not miss if you are traveling through the area! The hiking is killer and the facilities are amazing! As we left Humbug, we walked a retired section of the 101 back to the beach.
As you hike along the beach you find some really interesting items. On these beaches, items are still washing up from Japan's massive tsunami which occurred in 2011. In fact, so much stuff washes up on the Oregon Coast that one woman collects it and makes massive pieces of art with it! The piece below is in the town of Bandon.
Though we have not found anything too exciting, we did find this giant red sodium bulb with Japanese writing on it!
On one stretch of beach we actually found about 15 Mylar balloons... Once again, don't buy these things! I promise you, your child is not going to remember that damn Frozen themed balloon; and some poor schmo like me is going to have to pick the damn thing up. That's assuming some perfectly healthy animal doesn't choke on it first... ok, stepping off the soapbox...
Up to this point we really were quite lucky weather wise. We had only experienced rain once! We saw that wet weather was headed our way, so we pushed to make it to Bullard State Park where we would hunker down and let the weather pass. As we walked along the highway, a woman zipped into the parking lot I front of us, jumped out of her car, and asked if we were PCT hikers hahah. We thought this was odd but we said yes. As it turns out, Misty had a job lined up in Kennedy Meadows but was unable to stay due to the lack of hikers coming through this season... We piled our bags in her car and she zipped us over to Bullards.
That night as we sat making dinner, an older woman approached us in the hike and bike section of the campground and asked us about our trip. When we mentioned that we were taking a break from the Pacific Crest Trail, her eyes lit up! As it turns out the woman was Ravensong, the first female to complete the PCT solo!?! We conversed for hours, and she welcomed us to stay at her "roost" on our way down south. She commended us on doing the safe thing, and waiting for better conditions. What a treat to meet this awesome woman!
The rain kept coming, so we found a couch surfing host in Coos Bay and hopped a bus. Our hosts were amazing. The night we arrived they prepared a 8 course tapas dinner, complete with drinks. Once dinner was done, they invited us to use their sauna and spa. The following morning they took us to their favorite local spots!
We spent two nights with our hosts in Coos Bay and were on our way.
This trip has not been exactly what we thought it would be. You don't have the same sense of accomplishment as you do on the PCT. Some days we get down on ourselves because the miles don't add up to what we are used to... What we keep reminding ourselves is that this is just part of the journey... We need to enjoy this part of the trip for what it is.