Friday, November 4, 2016

Notes from a late summer 2016 thru-hiker

It's November now, definitely not the time to hike the Oregon Coast Trail (refer to my Feb. 20, 2016 post for details). But I got some intel from experienced thru-hiker Dogwood late in the last hiking season. I'll share it now just to get it into the blogosphere, for those doing some advance planning for 2017.

Heading south from Humbug Mountain
HITCHHIKING THE ROAD STRETCHES: Dogwood has had to do some hitchhiking when he thru-hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (getting into town for supplies, etc.) and it seems he found it relatively easy to get rides; in the Cascades, it's not unusual to encounter thru-hikers with backpacks heading to town. In contrast, he found hitchhiking on US 101 nearly impossible. People didn't want to stop for a guy with a backpack. He suggests (and it's certainly true) that along the coast, people aren't aware of the OCT and don't realize that they'd be helping a long-distance hiker. Fortunately there are taxis and buses available in many parts of the coast where the route strays briefly onto the highway.

DOGWOOD'S FAVORITE SECTIONS: Hiking over the capes and headlands. Specifically he gives thumbs-up to Ecola State Park and Tillamook Head (between Seaside and Cannon Beach); the stretch from Tenmile Creek, past Hobbit Beach, to Heceta Head (north of Florence); the shoreline parks at  Cape Arago (south of Charleston); and Boardman State Park, way down south. I have to say I especially love the capes up north.

ON BOARDMAN STATE PARK: Dogwood loved it. Points out that you pretty much have to stealth camp to get through it, since there are no legal campsites. (I took a taxi from Pistol River to Harris Beach State Park, then went back the next day and walked in to Harris Beach; I might consider a cabin at Whaleshead RV park next time, myself.) I had a report from another 2016 hiker that the OCT connector trail at the very north end of Boardman State Park (Hike 85 in my book) was in very poor shape and nearly impassable. Dogwood found it rough but passable, still preferably to walking on the highway.

DOGWOOD ON CAMPING ON THE BEACH: "I too think on the beach camping can get overrated especially when the fine sand embeds in clothing and every other nook and cranny. Being sand blasted in high winds with gusts simply gets old." Ditto.

ON SOME SOUTHERN RIVER CROSSINGS: Dogwood didn't cross the mouth of Pistol River; he seems to have found it a little confusing, as I did when I thru-hiked, and he just went to the highway and crossed the highway bridge. New River was also a little strange. He reminds us, "Things change depending on many factors." As I say again, the OCT isn't a wilderness experience, but it is an adventure..

DOGWOOD ON MY BOOK Day Hiking: Oregon Coast (couldn't resist sharing): "Many accolades concerning your book. I liked that you gave logistical details to stay true to a shoreline hike. You're in the know. I followed the book well. You include many possible side hikes and optional routes."