Sunday, July 9th, 2023, 0630-1020
Bayocean Spit to Netarts
10 miles, Gain 600′, Loss 600′, elevation 30
As expected, it was a most peaceful night. In the morning, I could hear the harbor entrance fog horn but it was far enough away so as not to be annoying. I drank my coffee with the birds and the distant surf. My only dilemma this morning was whether I should walk the bayshore road or beach for a few miles, both equally appealing prospects. It had been awhile since things had been this relaxed and easy. The Hayduke had been a battle with the wind and cold, then heat. There were always so many harsh and contrasting elements, plus the difficulty of the terrain. And nearly every one of my campsites on the PNT had been plagued by mosquitoes. Life was a beach on the Oregon Coast…all of the rewards and none of the hardships.
I picked the bayside and was pleased to find interpretive signs about the historic township of Bayocean. The resort was established in the early 1900s and over 600 plots had been sold out of a planned holding of over 2000. There were as many as 50 houses built and the town had a general store, school ,swimming pool, hotel and electricity throughout. Then in the 1930s, a series of severe storms began to cut away at things. By the 1960s, the town was all but abandoned and most traces washed away. It’s a fascinating and cautionary story for our own times, as we are just beginning to struggle with the effects of climate change. My own place of residency in Miami will likely suffer a similar fate someday.
I reached the mainland and then headland of Cape Meares. I walked up another abandoned road, this one more recent. It was closed from landslides, which worked out great for me. It was an easy stroll in the middle of the deserted pavement. The part where it had been slightly washed away was also easy to go past on foot. Sometimes it’s really great not having a car. The road connected to Cape Meares State Park, where I took a half mile detour to check out a bunch of sights.
The first was reported to be one of Oregon’s largest Sitka spruce trees at 15′ in diameter, 144′ tall and around 800 years old. It was truly an impressive organism. Next I walked out to the old lighthouse, the shortest on the Oregon coast at only 38′. It was cute and enjoyable since I was the only tourist visiting at the time. I had the company of one black-tailed deer. Again I stopped at all the nice display signs, mostly focusing on seabirds. This attraction had some of the best signs yet, which is saying a lot since there have been information kiosks everywhere. I spent a long time reading them all. Lastly I visited the famous octopus tree, with its 8 branches spiraling out and up. No one is quite sure how or why it formed that way.
I followed a nice trail back to the main road, very appreciative of my side trip to the lighthouse. A paved road walk of about 3 miles was a little boring, only the first time I’d felt this way on this particular hike. At least the road was quiet…only about 5 cars passed me. It just didn’t have much for views and was so far the longest road walk I had to do (there would be more that were much worse). I had just been spoiled, I guess. Shortly I arrived at the town of Oceanside and was able to get back to a beach. The town was enchantingly cute, with a nice end-of-the-road kind of feel. I was entertained by reading all the kitschy and pun-intended beach house names like ‘Moby’s Place,’ ‘Captain’s Rest,’ and ‘Sea La Vie’. I wanted to get a coffee at the cafe but decided I better press on, given that I was soon meeting up with my PCT friend Skybird and Dad Ray. Recall that her parents had hosted and seen me off at the start of my journey, but she had been away on travel during that time. She’d arranged to come out to the coast as soon as she got back. Ray was driving her, since she had a hurt foot, and he’d also agreed to drive straight to where I was, as it was about the same distance and time from Portland. I walked 2 more miles on the beach to the town of Netarts, then found a cafe for a rendezvous. My timing was perfect, as they arrived just as I ordered my coffee.
It was so great to see Skybird again! We’d chatted online but I hadn’t actually seen her in person since I was last at her parents’ house in Portland, 5 years prior. I decided on a zero in Manzanita so we could catch up. I don’t think I ever took a zero so early in a thru-hike but it seemed appropriate, given the relaxed theme of this hike. Also, why not spend another day at such a lovely beach house, that was so graciously shared by my hosts? In other words, there was no teeth-pulling needed to convince me to stay a few days. We drove through the town of Tillamook and then of course had to make a stop at the famous Tillamook Creamery. This is a mega attraction in the area because they offer a self-guided tour of their cheese-making factory, free cheese samples, and 30 some flavors of ice cream, plus many other delicious treats. It’s very popular, especially on a weekend. I’d guess there were hundreds of people there and can only imagine how many calories are consumed on site on a daily basis…billions probably!
It was seriously the perfect place for a starved hiker to hang out…too bad I wasn’t quite starved yet, given the ample opportunities for food on this hike! But we still managed to consume our share of calories. I ate a giant chicken sandwich covered in cheese, with a side of fried cheese curds. Then delicious ice cream, followed by a bunch of free cheese samples (which I saved for later but sadly forgot in the fridge when I headed back to trail 2 days later…darn!). Perhaps my favorite part was viewing the factory from the second level observation deck, allowing a bird’s eye view of the the poor workers laboring away on a Sunday. The factory runs round the clock, 7 days a week, pumping out cheese. It’s pretty incredible to think about, really. It was way more interesting than I thought it would be and the signs were good at describing the process. I already kind of knew about the dairy and cow milking side of things, but this gave a much broader picture. I was a fantastic visit and a must-see for OCT hikers, even if it is off trail a ways (unless one does the road route around Tillamook bay, in which case it’s right on the way!).
We passed through more little towns along the bay and a few on the beach as we made our way back to Manzanita. This foray worked out great, since I got to see all the parts I missed when I got a boat ride to Bayocean spit. It was much better to see them by car rather than by foot, though. We also stopped at Jetty Marine to buy a crab for dinner later. I looked around for my buddy Karl the giant kitty, but couldn’t find him. I also didn’t see any hikers…hadn’t seen any since the first day, in fact. Back at the beach house, I got cleaned up and did all the regular hiker chores while I also tried to catch up with Skybird. It was such a fun day!
Monday, July 10th, 2023
Zero Day in Manzanita
I didn’t have much to report about this day off. Physically I didn’t need to take a day but I was in no hurry and really wanted to spend time with Skybird and Ray. We went out to brunch at Wanda’s in Nehalem and then downtown Manzanita for a spell at both the winery and pub for dinner. Ray and I had oyster shooters, which were yummy, and we all had a bowl of clam chowder, which was some of the best I’d had in a long while. Eating and resting were the order for the day, and we did it in style. I can’t thank Skybird and her parents enough for such a genuine and authentic Oregon Coast retreat. It was absolutely PERFECT! I will always have such fond memories of this place because of their bountiful generosity and hospitality. Thank you thank you thank you!