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Oregon and California Coastal Trail Adventures - Part 2

Not all who wander are lost. Except, if you see me wandering, I'm probably lost. Kindly, point me in the proper direction! Courtney—Texas Time—on the other hand, is not lost.

Several mornings, Courtney attempted to start at 7 a.m. and hike 10 miles by 10 a.m. The poor trail conditions thwarted her plan, until her seventh morning of OCT hiking. That morning she didn’t need transportation to her starting point. She simply walked to the beach from our house and hiked south to the Winchuck River. Even though she hiked at a fairly low tide, she played chicken with the ocean at a couple of points on the beach. As the tide pulled out, she raced across the point. Once she wasn’t quite fast enough, and the ocean tagged her. The Winchuck was too high to cross, so I drove her across the Winchuck River bridge and dropped her off on the other side where she continued hiking toward Crescent City, California. She hit her goal of 10 miles by 9:45 a.m. Round of applause!

Unsure if there was a way to cross the Smith River in California by foot without walking across the shoulderless bridge on Highway 101, I remained on call with my phone at my side in case my transportation services were required. As a mother, I was horrified to later learn that when she reached the Smith River, a nice couple (who in reality could have been axe murderers) gave her a ride across the bridge. She voluntarily got into a car with strangers after all the warnings I gave her as a child to never ever do that!

Second, horrifying event - The California Coastal Trail to Crescent City was on the beach and straight forward until she arrived at Lake Talawa just north of Crescent City. According to her research, a walkable sandbar separated the lake from the ocean. Not so, upon arrival. Having no desire to walk a mile to walk around the lake, she surveyed the area and found a section that looked shallow enough to cross. She carefully stepped into the water only to have one leg sink to her thigh in the sand. With difficulty, she managed to pull her leg free and then called her dad to pick her up and call it a day.

I googled quicksand, and it is saturated sediment that may appear solid until a sudden change of pressure initiates liquefaction. Objects in liquified sand sink to the level at which the weight of the object is equal to the weight of the displaced soil/water mix and the submerged object floats due to its buoyancy. This sounds exactly like her experience. Yikes!

She hiked a couple of more days in California, which allowed me to find about a dozen sand dollars and observe a herd of elk on the beach. However, once the coastal trail left the beaches and passed through the mountain side, the trails became overgrown with thorny blackberry vines. After getting her fill of nicks and pricks, she abandoned the CCT, and instead she and I hiked some trailheads in the area or the beach by our house.

Per texts from Courtney’s Sierra hiking friends, their hiking progressed slowly as they were hit by two snowstorms. Snowdrifts hid the trail and landmarks, making it difficult to verify they were still on the trail. Also, if the snow is not packed, hikers sink into snow—called postholing. When the snow is two or more feet deep, it makes for very slow progress. She, her dad, and I were very glad that she decided to skip the Sierras for now.

When we hiked together, we hiked 5-8 miles at a time. For some reason, my Fitbit always recorded more mileage than her pedometer. Her pedometer was probably more accurate, but I have been measuring my mileage with my Fitbit for four years, so I’m choosing consistency over accuracy and sticking with my Fitbit’s calculation.

We ran into three downed trees that crossed the path on the Boy Scout Tree Trail. Two of the fallen trees we limboed under, but the third one we had to climb over the trunk twice. Once on the way to the waterfall and then on the way back to the trailhead. This was my fourth time to hike the trail and the first time I have seen trees blocking the trail. I am guessing that the soaked ground from the extremely wet spring loosened the soil causing their demise.

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,650 miles. While hiking with Courtney, I hiked at least five miles with her several days. At five miles per day, it would only take me only 530 days to hike the entire trail. Courtney reminded me that if I attempted the PCT, I would be wearing a 30+ lb backpack, I would have to hike 700 miles of desert, and with camp sites more than five miles apart, hiking only five miles a day is not even possible. Okay, okay, I don’t even really want to hike it because I am not sleeping on the ground one night, much less 530. Hats off to all the through hikers.

Alas, on June 20, Courtney and my hiking fun came to an end. We loaded her up on supplies, and, she let me try on her fully loaded backpack. It was crazy heavy. I think it started compressing my spine. If I had tipped over onto my back, I would never have been able to get up! After a few steps in it, I was ready to take it off! After having her with us for almost three weeks, it was sad to see her go. Her dad chauffeured her to Seiad Valley, California, about 2.5 hours from us.

To be continued—

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