The cold last night was relentless and I slept in my thermals, socks, and a fleece sleeping bag liner. The wind also picked up at some point, in which I took a mental note to position my tent better to block wind from the coast, which only increased the chilliness. I woke up at 5am to the sound of hundreds of birds! It was a beautiful, magical thing to wake up to and made suffering through the cold worth it. Fort Stevens park is packed with old trees and these birds remained hidden in the canopy, though they echoed throughout the park.
I took a long time to get my things together and didn’t leave camp until 6:30. Most of the time was spent trying to get warm, packing, and eating some cold soaked oats for breakfast. Finally, I hiked the mile out of the park to access the beach and begin my hike south!
The goal for the day is 23 miles to Hikers Camp in Ecola State Park. The camp is unique along the trail and has 3 Adirondack-style shelters with bunks, meaning I will not be using my tent tonight. My friend’s plan is to drive, explore the coast, and hike 4 miles from a trailhead to stay a night at the shelter with me. Most of the day is spent hiking on the beach, but once I get to Gearhart, the path is along Highway 101 into Seaside.
Fort Stevens to Gearhart
This section is all beach walking! A perfect way to start the Oregon Coast Trail, strolling along the beach. Soon after leaving Fort Stevens, I ran into the Peter Iredale shipwreck. At this point, it’s only a frame and a few pillars rising out of the sand.
I stopped half way to Gearhart for second breakfast of coffee and a probar. There were pit toilets and a table that was somewhat blocked from the wind. I don’t know why I am stoked every time there is a table and bench for breaks, but it is a simple pleasure that I make sure to enjoy when I can during hikes.
Things I’m enjoying so far
I’m already so thankful I decided to bring pants on this trip. For those of you who know me, I live in shorts and they are my preferred attire, especially while hiking! The pants are keeping me warm, without the need of wearing thermals too. Really hope the rest of this trip is warmer.
The wind jacket was also a fantastic choice. I lived in it all day and it managed to keep me dry against the ocean spray.
I’m second guessing my choice to make my own synthetic quilt. It was so cold last night and is looking like it’ll be just as cold tonight. I’m becoming more open to the idea that there will be more inns in this trip than I had planned.
If it continues to stay cold, I may buy a fleece when I get into Lincoln City, where there is an outlet mall. I thought I would be warm enough with my shirt, long sleeve base layer, and puffy. If it’s too cold during the day for my base layer, I’m hesitant to wear my puffy and risk it get soaked, and the additional fleece would be great to have.
I keep realizing things I forgot. First, it was leaving my pack towel. Then I realized I left my trekking poles! Which, no big deal, it’ll be fine without them. But now, I realized that I forgot hand sanitizer!!! I never forget this while backpacking, but especially during the pandemic?! How could I have overlooked this? Thankfully, I’ll walk through a couple towns with stores today and can pick some up. What else did I forget?
Gearhart to Hikers Camp
The walk from Gearhart to Seaside is a bit of road walking and about 1.5 miles walking along Highway 101. The highway is notoriously busy, but along this section there are wide easements and sometimes sidewalks to walk along. Though it’s not pretty, it wasn’t a stressful section of 101 to follow.
The sun came out while walking along the promenade in Seaside. Seaside is a very family-friendly, tourist town and it was PACKED! It was a bit overwhelming after hiding in rural Washington during the pandemic. From the promenade, there is a road walk through some neighborhoods to the trail head to Tillamook Head. The paved promenade was easy walking and there was quick access to restrooms and water fountains.
Once back in the forest, it began raining. The trail was so muddy I slid all over the place, my mind berating me for leaving my trekking poles at home, and me just laughing at the situation in general. I couldn’t recall if my friend’s car was parked at the trail head and since I was struggling with footing, I had the feeling that they opted out.
When I arrived at the shelters, I was the only one there. Glancing into all three shelters, looking for my friend, I realized they did opt out. I didn’t blame them though, I was soaking wet, cold, and covered in mud. I got my sleeping arrangements set up and started cold soaking my ramen. The ramen didn’t rehydrate well, how am I so bad at this cold soaking thing? Ramen should be the easiest meal. Maybe it works better with the cheap ramen, rather than my fancy-pants-gourmet stuff?
About an hour later a group of hikers arrived, even more unprepared than myself for the cold. They tried to start a fire, but all the wood in the area was soggy, it hasn’t been dry here in months. I was honestly surprised they stayed the night, but was happy to have some company and talk to strangers.
Once the sun started to set, I curled up in my shelter, listening to critters run along the roof and the wind blast against the walls.
Date: May 15, 2021
Start: Fort Stevens State Park
End: Hikers camp in Ecola State Park
Fun: I wore pants all day!