Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Celebrating mid-life with an OCT thru-hike

In January I received the following e-mail from a woman named Patti:

Buena Vista Beach Access, south of Gold Beach
"Bonnie, thanks for your blog, book and all that you've put out there to advance the ease of hiking the OCT. I've been poring over your blog. My husband and I visited Gold Beach 3 years ago and completed multiple day hikes during that week; I was smitten and vowed to return. Now, on the verge of turning 55 and having made a major life change, I've been mulling the possibility of thru-hiking the OCT toward the end of summer 2015. My question is this ... am I completely crazy to even be thinking of doing such a thing? While I've day hiked 14 miles at a stretch (and stumbled toward the end!), that's a very different animal than hiking day in and out 10 to 15 miles for a month or more. The up side is that I don't need to be anywhere, nor do I have a schedule, so I could adjust the hike accordingly. In your estimation are there reasons for hikers to meet up with someone periodically along the trail? Your blog stated that you didn't feel safety was an issue. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated as I contemplate the adventure."

We corresponded a couple of times--but I had no idea if she carried through with the idea. Then this morning I opened my email to find this progress report from Patti. She's doing it!

Harts Cove
"It's been many things so far. Yesterday went over Cascade Head with a side trip to Harts Cove. Put in over 16 miles. In order, saw bear scat, heard loud barking of sea lions on Harts Cove Trail (they were in a cove so couldn't see them), and then saw 12  elk on the Nature Conservancy Trail ... Began hiking Aug. 2. Have needed to take a couple of days off to allow the ol' body to recover. Amazing beauty at every turn."

I'm impressed that she took the time for a side trip to (magnificent) Harts Cove rather than (like some of us) powering south with a minimum of detours. Actually I'm impressed that she had a dream, did the research, and is going for it. Go Patti!

UPDATE: After posting this, I received the following e-mail: "Please let Patti know that women in their mid-70s have completed solo thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail and are now on the Continental Divide Trail to complete the Triple Crown."


  1. After attempting to thru hike the Appalachian Trail in 1997 and completing about 900 miles of it, I haven't been back on a trail until May of this year when I backpacked with my daughter and granddaughter (and slowed them down considerably). We hiked in NY state and I kept tripping and falling on the rocks, and in fact, hurt myself pretty bad. I will be 75 in November, and would like to try the OCT next year. I'd like to know what is the latest one can start (I'm planning to fly to Alaska in mid-August). Maybe I will have to consider section hiking it, but living in Sacramento it isn't like i can just go for a weekend. I swore off backpacking last May after a particularly nasty fall, but at the end of our hike I announced to the girls that this was the "First Annual 3 Generation Backpacking Trip"!
    Maybe I could get them to hike with me in Oregon.

  2. I consider the ideal OCT hiking season to be mid-June through mid-September. Hope that works for you!

  3. I think it might be perfect! Thanks for your reply.

  4. Gypsy,
    The OCT would be very doable for you, particularly if you hike with your family. It could just be me but, surprisingly, I found the sand to be most taxing. The headlands (and even highway walking!) provided a welcome respite from the miles upon miles of Dunes on the Central Coast. Also, heeding Bonnie's advice (in her guidebook) about timing various stretches of the hike with the tides is important. Go for it, and good luck!