I don’t always hate road walks. I’ve done my share. But the biggest downfall of the Oregon Coast Trail, besides not being able to sleep in Oswald West SP as a thru hiker, is the 41% of the trail that is on paved roads.
Heading south out of Humbug Mountain State Park is a long shadeless stretch of road walk that takes you past the very cool looking Sister’s Rock and down to Nesika Beach where a trail marker takes you back out to the shore. Here the beach is steep and the sand is once again very soft and grainy absorbing much of your energy. For a while I was so focused on trudging through the sand that I didn’t realize how high the waves were coming. That’s when I was hit by my first sneaker wave.
Sneaker or rouge waves are more common in the winter months when the ocean is stirred up by storms. This wave just took advantage of the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to the rhythm of the ocean and decided to teach me a lesson. It roared up and hit me just above the waist and knocked me down. Thankfull the beach was so steep that I was able to quickly get up above most of the water. Instead of worrying about being dragged back down and out my hand immediately shot to my pocket, and my unprotected cell phone now soaked with salt water.
I dropped my pack in the sand and had the back of the phone and the battery removed before I knew what I was doing. I pulled my pack towel from the backpack and tried to dry any dampness that I could find.
Then I laughed.
Pay attention idiot. It could have gone a hell of a lot worse.
I refilled my water bottle at Ophir, a small bathroom and parking lot thing on the beach and figured I was done with the deep sand walking. Instead of following the beach until it connected with Nesika Beach Rd. I continued on 101, my umbrella open to protect me from the sun. There is a brief stint back on the beach south of Otter Beach SRA then you cross the bridge into Gold Beach. It was still blazing hot and I had salt crusted to my shirt and forehead. It ground of layers of skin when you tried to wipe it away. So, what the hell, a shower and a hotel room. Actually the cheapest hotel room on the entire Oregon Coast, cheaper than a lot of campgrounds I have stayed in.
I could have hiked out to Cape Sebastian like I had planned. There were rumors floating around about a thru hiker campsite which I wanted to check out, but the idea of a shower and cold soda overruled that idea.
Good thing too. The next day I hiked down to Buena Vista Wayside where the new maps have you continuing down the beach. The old maps have you rejoining the 101 for the climb up Cape Sebastian. I had both maps but decided to follow the newer, up to date ones.
I followed the beach until there was no more. There I was blocked in by impossible climbs on each side. So I turned around and slowly hiked back, searching the coastline for any sign of a trail that would lead back up and head north. There was nothing. No trail signage, no obvious break in the treeline that might suggest a way out. By the time I had hiked all the way back to Buena Vista Wayside I had spent almost three hours hiking and searching for a clue as to where the trail had gone. Eventually I had to just suck it up and follow the old map, up 101 to Cape Sebastian. Luckily I had started my day early because it had taken me over five hours to hike out along the coast, then back north, then back south. Five miles of the coast in one direction and I felt like I had done it three times already.
If I wanted to make it to Harris Beach State Park I’d have to put in some big miles. Along the beach to Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint, back on 101 for a while until Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The the climbs. Constant ups and downs before shooting back onto 101 again and heading into Brookings. Beat and used up.
Still, the sunset was amazing and I slept well in a corner of the hiker biker camp.
I’d hike to the California border in the morning.