Lone Ranch to Gold Beach Visitor’s Center (actual date Sunday, 5/25/2014)
Must have been around 2:00am that I was stirred awake and my tent lit up. I swear I saw a silhouetted human shape, so I shouted,”who’s there?” I rubbed my eyes, my heart began beating madly, and just like that the light faded and all was back to normal. No response, no footsteps, nothing. I guess I’m not even sure this actually happened. I fell back asleep and wondered if my site had been compromised.
As I turned in last night, I thought I had found a nice, secluded campsite. Come to find out I was less than 1/4 mile from a parking area and by 7:00am I had greeted three people, two toting cameras, and all surprised to see me breaking camp in my underwear. Good thing I’m an early riser. I remember thinking that the bench should have tipped me off that I had parked in an accessible spot last night.
I began the day by creating a small painting to leave behind. Last year when I drove to Austin I left random pieces of artwork at various rest stops along the way for folks to find. The secret act of hanging them in inconspicuous places was thrilling. Receiving a message from someone who found one was even better. I planned do do something similar this trip and brought along a small paint set and some brushes along with a card that explains the project. Difference between this and my Austin thing is I’d be painting them on the fly on wood I find along the way, likely hanging them when they were still wet.
After breaking camp I followed the OCT to Indian Sands and was amazed by the unique formations. Chips and chunks of arrowheads littered the landscape and the more off-trail I got, the better the specimens became. This was my sort of playground but I still had a dozen hours of walking to do, so off I went, somewhat reluctantly. The OCT moved slowly through the steep climbs and long descents of Samuel Boardman State Park. For the most part, the trailhead would originate on the 101 and head west for a few miles, turn north for a short bit, then promptly return to the 101. A few times I’d walk for a few hours and only cover 1 or 2 miles north. Not to mention the fact that the trail was mostly over-grown and to a degree that made it challenging to locate, at times. Oh, and the other tricky part was I was (still) running low on water. I limited myself to one sip per hour as I bushwacked through trails that seemed untrod in years. I wondered if I ought to just hop onto the 101 in case I do run dry. But a posted map at Whalehead point showed the single-track to be significantly shorter, so I took it instead. Though this portion was beautiful and secluded, I felt as if I was making the trail, not following one. The erratic markers made me feel lost more than a few times. When it finally burped me back onto the highway I stayed there. I crossed the Thomas Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in Oregon. Eventually I made it to the Pistol River where an unsuspecting woman was kind enough to wipe the lipstick off her water bottle before she handed it to me, saying,”You keep it, honey.” A fellow not ten minutes later sacrificed his bottle of Dasani. Ask, and you shall receive. But all I had been asking myself most of the day was why. Why was I doing this again? I was getting a little overwhelmed and the answer eluded me.
The water and generosity managed to infuse me with new energy as I plowed through Cape Sebastian. The sun drew closer to the ocean and I nearly stopped at an RV park to camp. But after last night, the prospect of setting up my tent next to houses on wheels was disconcerting and I wasn’t desperate. Not yet anyhow. I walked past a sign advertising the Blue Jay Cycle Camp and called the number. Maybe they’d let a fellow afoot take up some space? But alas, they didn’t pick up. Onward I went into Gold Beach knowing that the possibility of finding water suddenly increased tenfold while the opportunity for a campsite likely did not.
At the Gold Beach visitor’s center I found a water spigot. I was ecstatic. I might have even pumped my fist. They also had a public restroom that was open 24/7. The center was closed until Tuesday (it was Memorial Day weekend) and I seemed to have the place to myself. The rule in Oregon is you can camp anywhere on the beach as long as you are out of sight of private residences. So I found a flat nook in the vicinity and called it home for the night. Day two in the books and 25 miles on my feet that fortunately, still felt just fine.
Art drop #1
Selfies with a timer aren’t easy – Whalehead Point
Thomas Creek Bridge view
The glorious spigot at the visitor’s center in Gold Beach