Friday, July 14th, 2023, 0800-1900
South Beach hiker\biker campground to Beachside State Rec stealth camp in NF
18 miles, Gain 300′, Loss 300′, elevation 70
It was pretty quiet in the campground overnight. Slingblade later reported that an older man died there during his stay the next night, so there had been all the emergency vehicles and drama. Geez, so sad. I got up early but took my time with a hot shower and drank coffee with Tom and Angie. I really enjoyed their company and hoped I would see them again. Keenan also came over to hang out while dad Detail (aka beast of burden) packed their camp. He told us stories about his video games and I wondered that he must be missing them on this trip. I’m not sure what I would have thought of a trip like this as a kid. I probably would have liked it a lot, since I was never into playing video games or spending much time inside during the long days of summer.
I bid farewell to everyone still left in camp and hit the beach. Dave headed out really early, I didn’t even see or hear him leave. So far, the schedules and actions of other hikers had held little pull on me. This was such a relaxed trail, everyone was going their own pace and content in doing so. It was nice to take a break from the unofficial competitiveness of thru hiking. It’s something that goes unspoken mostly but is often there, just simmering under the surface. I’d certainly fallen into the trap of it on many hikes. In a way, it’s good because it promotes a pace necessary to finish a trail as long as the PCT or CDT. But it wasn’t needed on the OCT.
Driving me forward this day was the idea of taking a break to eat my leftovers from the night before. The beach was really nice, with interesting rocks and caves here and there, plus plenty of birds. I saw several eagles, vultures and tons of crows. I think I also saw some snowy plovers and Long-billed curlews. As a graduate student in North Carolina, I used to conduct shorebird surveys for the Audubon Society. Thus, I became pretty good at spotting and identifying all these birds. Yet I didn’t know the west coast species as well. I was surprised there hadn’t been more shorebirds, but perhaps it was because it was the wrong season for them. The shoulder seasons are when they migrate up and down the coast, and are seen in the greatest numbers.
I got my shoes wet crossing a pretty sizable creek and then left the beach to climb past Seal Rocks. There I took my break at a picnic table, relishing in my leftovers. They tasted even better the next day. Thank you again John! I had another hour of beach walking and then climbed high to 101 to walk the bridge over the Alsea river to Waldport. Unlike the scary bridge walk the day before, this one had a wide sidewalk and the wind wasn’t bad. I stopped several times to watch a boating family haul a crab pot (no luck) and marvel at all the harbor seals playing in the sound. Several were swimming and resting over a shallow sand bank, so I could really see them clearly.
Across the bridge, I came to a stoplight where another hiker was standing, waiting to cross the street. He was so focused on the task that I don’t think he saw me. I crossed right behind him and continued just a few paces on his heels for a block. It might have been Dave but I wasn’t sure since he’d been in his camp layers when I met him and this guy was in beach attire. I also didn’t know what Dave’s pack looked like. I knew the hiker was either headed for the Dollar General or the library, or both, as in my case. I reached the library and turned in, the guy kept going. DG it was. I didn’t call out to him because I was determined to get some work done while I had a computer. I figured I wouldn’t see him again since I planned to be in there for a few hours.
I ended up closing the place at 5 pm, since they allowed unlimited computer time. I got some light resupplies at the DG, then picked up a footlong Subway. All this plus the Post Office was in a 2 block radius, which makes for a pretty great trail town. But I intended to push on another couple miles, so I ate half my sub and hit the beach. I picked it up while still in the mouth of the river, right in town. It was low tide, so there was a narrow beach with a few rocky sections. The sand was a little sink-y but not terrible. Back on the beach proper, I used the tailwind to speed me along. After a few miles, I turned into the state campground. This one also had a hiker biker site but I’d decided to follow another Buck30 tip to free camp legally in the National Forest, just on the other side of 101. I did use the campground’s restroom to collect a little bit of water for the night…hopefully they didn’t mind. The guidebook suggested that hikers use such resources rather than trying to filter questionable surface sources.
The forest road was easy to find and within a quarter of a mile I landed a great tent site deep in the woods. I did have to admit, the forest road was a bit creepy as I walked past a derelict rv, completely smashed and rotting. Someone didn’t want to deal with disposing it properly so here it was, becoming someone else’s problem…namely the environment’s. Story of our society. The logged forest was dark and eerie, with that feeling that something just wasn’t right. I blamed it on all the human disturbance over the years. The old growth forests felt very different to me, were different, and I longed to be in one instead. But nevertheless, mission stealth camping accomplished, Twig out.