Twig Adventures

PCBCRT Day 4: The Tourist Trail

Saturday, July 8th, 2023, 0930-1915
Manzanita to Bayocean Spit
16 miles, Gain 200′, Loss 200′, elevation 30

I felt pretty trashed when I woke up. I was sore and just wanting to take it easy. Luckily that’s exactly what I had planned for the day…if you count walking 16 miles on the beach as easy. It certainly was compared to the day before. I had a relaxing morning drinking coffee and doing normal things one does when leaving from their house. I definitely felt like I was on vacation this day. I locked up and bid farewell to Manzanita…I knew I’d be seeing it again soon…more on that later. I hit the beach under perfect conditions again. All my fellow beachgoers were out doing their respective things: playing fetch with dogs, riding horses, and running. Oregon beaches are great for active people, not for laying around and basking in the sun. The cool temperatures dictate this. But everyone was happy, especially the dogs. Seeing them play was endlessly entertaining and made me so happy.

Only halfway down the block from the house I realized I’d left my waterbottle behind. Oh well, I didn’t really need to be carrying anything. I could simply pick up something to drink at the marina in a few miles. After an hour, I came to a water crossing, the Nehalem River, which is the easiest of all on the OCT. The Jetty Marina offers regular rides throughout the day, only charing hikers $10 for a ferry…and you don’t even have to get your feet wet. It’s the most guaranteed and cheapest ferry ride, and I was happy to give them my business. I also bought a pound of clams and several drinks from the store: Gatorade, soda and a porter. I wanted to buy a fresh cooked dungeness crab but knew that it can take over an hour to eat one. I didn’t feel like expending such effort.

There was a ginormous kitty, Karl, laying on the table outside. I set my pack down next to him and surmised that he was as big as it. I was told he weighed 23 lbs, so he was surely heavier than my pack. He wouldn’t make a good pack kitty but he was a good friend to share some clams with. He licked each shell as I pulled out the meat. It was a nice break, part of my theme of taking it easy, but alas eventually it was time to move on. I scrambled up onto the south jetty, which afforded a pleasant walk to the beach, as it was filled in with dirt on top. I watched small fishing boats coming and going in the river.

Back on the beach, I enjoyed more easy strolling past Rockaway beach and all the way to Tillamook bay. There was always something to keep me entertained: dogs chasing balls, kids playing, birds, sand art, skimboarders, and watching Twin Rocks (2 cool offshore islands) get closer and closer. My ad in the personals would read: like to take long walks on the beach…like really long, a whole state if possible. My only gripe about this trail so far is the difficulty in emptying my bladder. I can’t just squat on the beach, at least not busy ones like this. There’s always someone nearby it seems. And climbing up into the dunes is tedious, if not impossible. In this case, I resorted to walking into Rockaway town to find a public restroom. I resisted the urge to buy more treats at least.

Nearing a major water course again, I could see the long jetty of Tillamook bay. I had to turn inland, walking past the huge and very busy Barview campground. I was glad I hadn’t counted on staying there. I intersected the railroad tracks leading from Rockaway to Garibaldi. A very slow moving tourist train is the only thing running the tracks, so apparently most hikers get away with walking next to them. I of course gave them a try and enjoyed the nice walk. There were some cool rock outcroppings in the river, complete with an arch. I’d seen so many sea arches in offshore rocks that I was dying to come back with my kayak.

Just as I was distracted by yet another tourist opportunity, the train came by. I got off the tracks at the perfect time to go visit the old Coast Guard Lifeboat station at the end of a very long 700′ dock…the longest over-water pier in Oregon as a matter of fact. The boathouse had some cool relics inside plus a nesting pair of gulls with chicks outside. It was worth the detour… I was trying to do all the detours on this trail because why not? I renamed the OCT the Tourist Trail.

Back on the mainland, I decided it was time to grab some takeaway for dinner. Perfect timing because just then I walked past a food truck plaza. I got 6 huge and fresh-made pot stickers for $5 plus a wrap. I ate the pot stickers and packed the wrap. I headed over to the marina then to do some afternoon fishing…for a boat ride. My initial plan was to just take the bus back to Manzanita (for a hiker reunion the next day), but I figured I had time to kill, why not fish? Tillamook bay is huge, so if one can’t arrange a boat ride across to Bayocean spit, it’s either a long bus ride or hitch or walk…some extra 12 miles I think. The marine service will often take hikers over but they charge upwards of $50, cheaper if it’s split by a group. I asked the guy if they had ferried anyone recently and he said there had been one hiker in the morning, no one else was scheduled.

I of course didn’t want to pay that much, not when I could take the bus for $1. But I really wanted to see Bayocean spit, a former resort and community from the early 1900s and now deserted. There was reported to be some great dispersed camping. My tactic was to hang out by the boat ramp to see if anyone was leaving for a sunset cruise. It’s obviously far better to arrive early in the morning when folks are heading out for the day, which was my back-up plan for later. But maybe I’d get lucky? I spoke with a lady that was collecting data on catches from all the fishermen coming in. She worked for Oregon State Fish and Wildlife. I told her the array of my plans and she offered me a ride to Manzanita when she got off work. Sweet, I wouldn’t even have to take the bus! But just then, a truck towing a boat rolled in, preparing to launch. I asked the guys, even offering them $20 and they said “jump in!” Wow, that was stupid easy!

The ride was so quick I didn’t even get their names. I didn’t feel bad about inconveniencing them, since one of the guys was selling the boat to the other 2, so they were taking it for a test spin. The point was to just tool around anyway, and this way they got to test the landing prowess of the boat. I tried to hand the $20 to the guy but he wouldn’t even take it. He was probably just so happy to be selling his boat…the 2 happiest days saying and all. Just like that, I was standing at the end of Bayocean spit, with miles of camping options. There is a nice gravel road on the bay side and gorgeous beach on the other, take your pick. I did both, starting on the road then cutting across to the beach, then back again. On the third cross-over trail, I found a lovely campsite in the trees but a short walk from the beach. There were so many great campsites that I passed on. The whole spit was just so beautiful, I wanted to see as much of it as possible.

Unfortunately my sunglasses got ripped off my head during the middle pass, without me noticing. I set up camp before I realized their disappearance. I retraced my steps out to the beach and then back to the bay and second cross-over trail. A couple dozen paces into the trail, I realized the futility of my mission… whatever branch snagged them probably winged them far off to the side into the dense vegetation. Just as I had this thought, I looked down and found them! Back at camp, I still had energy to walk to the beach to watch the sunset. My first this trail and it was gorgeous. What an amazing journey.

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