Audrey Jo's Journal on Thru-Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail
By Audrey Jo Mills
Published: 02/18/2012  Updated: 08/08/2019
Audrey Jo Mills

The following is an excerpt from Audrey Jo's journal as she and her four-legged friend, Pepe, traveled south on the Oregon Coast Trail on the first leg of their journey: the Columbia River to Lincoln City, Oregon.

October 25, 2011
South Jetty of the Columbia River to Ft. Stevens State Park
Began the OCT today!  Late start due to parking issues but had a fabulous sunset walk back to campsite.  My first time to the Oregon Coast and Pepé's first time to the beach!

October 26, 2011
Ft. Stevens State Park to Seaside
Long day of beach walking!  Walking on the sand can be tricky, especially at high tide when there is only dry sand available.  Lots of people and pups on the beach today. Beautiful and sunny!  Lucky enough to meet two teachers in Gearhart that directed me to "couch surfing" host in Seaside! Wonderful, safe, free place to sleep! Very thankful! (see couchsurfing.org for more info)

October 27, 2011
Seaside to Indian Beach via Tillamook Head inland trail
Beautiful day! Gorgeous old growth forest.  Pepé and I climbed almost 1000 feet to the cliffside viewpoint made famous by Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition and caught our first glimpse of the Tillamook Rock lighthouse.  On the downhill, we ran across several historic WWII bunkers that are available for camping.  Further down we came to a bench with a breathtaking view of Indian Beach, a small, secluded stretch of sand encased by rocky cliffs and Sitka spruce.

October 28, 2011
Indian Beach to Cannon Beach
The day started out foggy with drizzling rain, but upon reaching the viewpoints in Ecola State Park, we were hit head-on with gale force winds.  Escaping the winds, we walked through the forest and met up with a road that exited the park and brought us into Cannon Beach.  Met Gary Hayes and his dog Jackson in a small city park.  He directed us into town for coffee. As we headed towards the beach to continue our hike for the day, the winds and rain picked up and hit us head on.  Pepé and I tried to wait out the storm in the public restroom, but after an hour, we decided to continue walking through town and try to find a place to camp. No luck... freezing and soaking wet, we continued on until we found a pet friendly place to stay.  Big thank you to the Wayside Inn and The Inn at Cannon Beach!

October 29, 2011
Cannon Beach to south end of Oswald State Park
Calm after the storm... Beautiful sunny day and great hiking!  Didn't pay attention to the tide tables so Pepé and I were almost running to make it around Silver Point, Humbug Point, and Hug Point.  Kind of wish I would have been able to spend more time at some of the tide pools and at the waterfall near Hug Point.  The hike through Oswald West State Park was awesome! Really beautiful forested inland trail. Lots of mushrooms and a few flowers still blooming. Amazing sunset views from the cliff tops of Cape Falcon and over Smugglers Cove!

October 30, 2011
Oswald West State Park to Nehalem Bay State Park
Woke up at 3am to stinging rain and a wet sleeping bag.  My tent was not working well against the high winds.  The rain continued all day! Finally I've learned the difference between "showers" and "rain" in the weather forecast.  Tough day. Climbed Neahkahnie Mountain in unrelenting rain surrounded by fog. Absolutely no view from the top!  Made it back down the muddy mountain and walked through upscale neighborhoods onto beach and into the cute town of Manzanita.  Bought my very deserving Pepé some healthy treats from Four Paws on the Beach and continued walking towards Nehalem Bay State Park.  Decided to stay in a yurt so that we could get all of our gear dry.

October 31, 2011
Nehalem Bay State Park to Barview County Park
Halloween! Nice, slow, beach walking day. The winds picked up, but were to my back for once! Pepé and I saw our first seals on the shore of Nehalem Bay today! The guys at Jetty Fishery were very friendly and ferried us across Nehalem Bay.  Got a late start and forgot to stop for lunch... Pepé was not too happy about that.  Camped at a hiker-biker site at the almost deserted Barview County Park.  Peaceful, quiet, and miraculously DRY...
**Note: In the morning we discovered that this campsite provides wireless Internet for a small fee.

November 1, 2011
Barview County Park to Oceanside
Difficult walking section from Barview County Park to Garibaldi.  This section of Hwy 101 is very tight and curvy with almost no shoulder.  I opted to walk on the railroad tracks, which is fine in the off-season, but apparently in the summer there is some sort of tourist rail service.  I didn't cross Tillamook Bay until almost 1pm, but was extremely thankful for the ferry services of Jeff & Val Folkema and John Ramer at Garibaldi Marina. John ferried Pepé and I over to the Bayocean Peninsula.  We walked from the beach through a difficult and confusing trail up to the Cape Meares State Park.  We reached the Cape Meares lighthouse at sunset- it was spectacular!  Unfortunately, as Cape Meares is only a day use area, and we had been slowed down by the trail up Cape Meares, Pepé and I continued walking in the dark until we made it to the cliffside perched town of Oceanside.  After a long hard day, I was able to find a cute room and cozy bed at The Clifftop Inn.

November 2, 2011
Oceanside to Cape Lookout State Park
Met a wonderful local woman as we came down the hill from our hotel to the beach.  Anne and her dog walked with us for a while in the sand.  She was very kind and I hope our paths cross again!  Walked for a few miles on the beach to Netarts. At Netarts walked on the Three Capes Loop Highway around Netarts Bay for several miles to Cape Lookout State Park. The road was very quiet- not a lot of traffic and there are some beautiful homes along the way.  Arriving at Cape Lookout, I was warned that a big storm was approaching, so Pepé and I decided to try a yurt again.  I was very glad we did so!  Just as I unlocked the door to the yurt, it started to pour and it kept raining all night!

November 3, 2011
Cape Lookout State Park to Webb Park Campground, Pacific City
A little bit of everything today: beach, inland trail, and road walking. Mostly road walking, but there was hardly any traffic, so it wasn't too bad.  The road meanders through some small rural villages and farms.  The day started out rainy, but ended beautifully!  Cows chased us down on the highway. Pepé was pretty freaked out, but it was hilarious!  I couldn't stop laughing! We were offered lots of rides today- a lot of really nice people that were interested in what I was doing.  I heard twice today that they couldn't believe I was doing something like this all by myself- I guess they didn't count Pepé!  Cape Kiwanda was really pretty and had some great views.  Our campground is right across from the beach where the dory boats launch and the Pelican Pub and Brewery.  Good dinner and micro IPA!  There are hundreds of rabbits in our campsite! They are fearless and are almost teasing Pepé! He has been going crazy over them... don't think I'm going to get much sleep tonight if this keeps up!

November 4, 2011
Pacific City to Neskowin
Woke up to watch the dory boats launch followed soon after by the surfers.  Very pleasant morning! I picked up my first mail drop of food and supplies! It's good to get resupplied, but I'm not looking forward to carrying all the extra weight and I know Pepé isn't either! Mostly road walking today, but the last couple mile stretch was on the beach into the beautifully quaint town of Neskowin, with wonderful views of Cascade Head and Proposal Rock (I made sure to send my boyfriend a picture of that... hint, hint!).  As we approached town, Pepé and I met Quince who offered to let us camp in her yard and take a hot shower.  We had great conversations that evening and I look forward to hearing what she decides to do next!

November 5, 2011
Neskowin to Lincoln City
Woke up to Quince seeing us off as she headed out to collect mushrooms. It was drizzling and cold.  I don't have anything good to say about today, except that is over. We walked on the road the entire day because the forest service trail we were supposed to take is closed to fallen trees.  If it weren't as rainy and windy, I would have chanced it.  As you approach Lincoln City, the road doesn't get any better and even becomes more narrow and traffic increases.  This should not be included in the OCT... very dangerous!

November 6, 2011
Lincoln City
Had to catch up with some "real life" stuff today on the Internet and phone...
Audrey Jo's Journal on Thru-Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail