Will I Ever Catch A Sunset?

Who knew you could experience so much life in just four days? I am wind-blown, blistered on my feet, worn out, and usually asleep before the sunset falls on the beach but I wouldn’t change a thing! Plus, there is an entire month of sunsets to catch! What hiker is awake at 9:00 p.m. anyways? In my short time here, I have learned a thing or two. All of which are good reminders for hiking and for life.

Trust your gut:

Extra valuable when life is dictated by the ocean. On one particular stretch of beach where I planned to camp on the beach or in the dunes, I found myself hiking in 40+ mph winds with an impending midnight high tide of 8+ (which is really high!) I had time to get around obstacles at low tide and could camp safely on the other side, but my instincts said hell no! I promptly turned around, directly into the headwind. When I finally got off the beach, I had a stealth camp set before dark! I even made a new friend too! Stressful yes, but all ended safely because I took the time to listen to my gut.

Breathe, and take it all in:

I am terrible at sitting still (shocking). On the trail, my goals are set based on where I can safely camp or the need to navigate creeks and headlands at specific tides. There may be stretches where I need to push to beat a tide but there’s always another way around. It does not matter if it takes me 8 or 12 hours, I’m still going to go the same distance to camp. There is no need to bust out every mile at a sprinter’s pace. Why not stop for a ten-minute snack break and watch the waves? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A lesson I should have learned years ago at Pendleton Roundup but that is a whole other story! After all, I am lugging my camera 400 miles, so I may as well use it.

People are genuinely curious and are excited about your adventures:

While in Cannon Beach, I stopped for a bagel sandwich and a beer. The plan was to eat as I walked to the brewery and write during lunch. Instead, I talked with the bagel shop owner about my journey and met a wonderful couple at the other end of the bar. We chatted for about two hours! If I had put my head down as planned and gotten to work, I would have missed making connections and enjoying every aspect of the trail and surrounding communities.

Make friends:

I’m a social person to a certain degree, I am also extremely goal-oriented, and when I have a plan I prefer to stick to it and compete with myself as to how quickly I can accomplish it. Through the Arch Cape section, I met a fellow hiker on Hwy 101 in a similar wind/camping/lodging predicament. We camped together and ended up hiking out the next day into Oswald West St. Park. I was still in “solo Kellie” mode, wanting to prove that I could accomplish this by myself. Well… halfway to the top of Cape Falcon my tune changed. Walking through the head-tall brush on a narrow trail, with a steep drop-off, and fresh bear scat was way more fun (and safe) with company than it ever would have been on my own.

I am already grateful for the trial taking me out of my comfort zone and challenging me to shift my mental perspective. Physically I’m feeling fantastic, and I am here for the full experience!

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