Audrey Jo's Journal on Thru-Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, Part 3
By Audrey Jo Mills
Published: 09/15/2012  Updated: 08/08/2019

The following is the third and final excerpt from the journal of Audrey Jo Mills as she and her four-legged friend, Pepe, traveled south on the Oregon Coast Trail, this leg: Coos Bay, Oregon to the California border.

March 5, 2012
Cape Arago Pack Trail Head to Bullards Beach State Park
Long day getting back in the saddle! I may have killed Pepe... we both are a bit out of walking shape since winter set in. We probably walked between 15 and 18 miles today, especially with all the back tracking and way finding. It poured all day! We were soaked and very cold when we arrived at camp. Had the "mumbles" for sure today... definitely hypothermic!

March 6, 2012
Bullards Beach State Park to Cape Blanco State Park
Off and on weather today as we came through Bandon. Got hit with low temps, hail, rain, and occasionally patches of sunshine. We were advised to stay off the beach due to the high winds, so Pepe and I hitched a ride to Boice Cope Park. Great little park with wonderful marshy and beach walking trails that connect with a beautiful system of inland forest trails within Floras Lake State Park near Blacklock Point. From a bluff overlooking the beach and the mouth of the Sixes River, it looked as though we would be able to wade across, but once we approached it we realized that it was much too deep (at least chest high) and fast moving to cross by ourselves. We ended up stuck in a muddy mess of a cow patty field for hours, finally escaping to a road heading the wrong direction. Pepe and I were picked up by a very kind soul and dropped off at the Cape Blanco State Park Campsite.

March 7, 2012
Cape Blanco to Humbug Mountain and back to Port Orford
We spoke with several State Park Rangers that advised us to forego trying to cross the next river, the Elk River, which was also extremely high. Disappointed, Pepe and I walked the road back to HWY 101 and headed south. Several miles later we were offered a ride by a Ms. Kathy O'Davis, a local Port Orford resident and saint! She was very excited about our adventure and was so excited to hear more about us. She drove us through Port Orford and all the way to Humbug Mountain State Park. She had some business to attend to, but said she would be back later that afternoon, and invited Pepe and I to have dinner with her and stay the night at her home. I said yes, not quite sure if we would actually see Kathy O again. Pepe and I spent a wonderful sunny afternoon on the beach and trails surrounding Humbug Mountain. The first real sunshine we had seen since leaving central Washington. Sure enough Kathy O picked up around 5pm and we had a spent a wonderful evening getting to know our new friend.

March 8, 2012
Tour of Port Orford Heads and hiked from Sisters Rocks to Geisel Monument on Nesika Beach
Kathy O, Pepe, and I started the morning by meeting the Port Orford walking club outside the Port Orford Community Center. The whole group decided to walk the trail around Port Orford Heads in order to show me some of the highlights of the Port Orford natural scenery. The headlands were beautiful and rugged. After our walk, the club met for breakfast at the Paradise Café, a Port Orford legend! Such a great breakfast and awesome mocha espresso! After breakfast Kathy O showed me around town a bit more and then we headed south to Sisters Rocks. There were extremely high winds and warnings of an approaching storm. Pepe and I walked from Sisters rocks to the Geisel Monument where we literally had to climb up an eroding buff to escape the beach (Not advised). The maps claim "no beach access" at this point, and boy do they mean it! After picking me up at the Geisel Monument, Kathy O drove us around and showed us a little bit more of what the Southern Oregon Coast had to offer. We went back to her place for the night, had a tasty dinner and chatted for hours.

March 9-11 2012
Port Orford and OCT Trail Segments
Over the last few days, Kathy, Pepe, and I have hiked the connecting portions of the OCT, including the wonderful Cape Sebastian, all the way to Boardman State Park. We would drive the highway walking sections. A huge storm was predicted to hit precisely the area I was to be hiking, which was one of my reasons for holding up and staying at Kathy O's. There is essentially no legal camping between Port Orford and Brookings, only hotels and maybe some RV spots. I was worried that Pepe and I would get trapped somewhere in a storm with little to no cover. In addition, Pepe and I were having a blast with Kathy O! I had to let go of my ego somewhat and accept that I didn't need to rush through the hike. Spending time in one spot can be just as valuable!

March 12, 2012
Arch Rocks, Boardman State Scenic Corridor to Harris Beach State Park
The overly anticipated storm hit today, of course. After waiting it out for a couple days with Kathy O, Pepe and I finally decided to get out on our own again and said good bye to Kathy O at Arch Rocks. It was crazy windy and spitting rain when we started out and it never seemed to improve. The trail was touch and go between HWY 101 and bluffs overlooking the seas. This section of trail was made for fast walking and was exciting to hike as every turn exposed new incredible views of natural rock arches and bridges being pounded by waves. The trail at times seemed camouflaged by the windswept foliage that seemed to form tunnels entering the forest. Soaking wet and freezing after a long hard day, compounded by the treacherous weather, Pepe and I made it to Harris Beach State Park, where a very rude camp host finally allowed us some shelter from the storm.

March 13, 2012
Harris Beach State Park to California State Line!
Our last day of walking was all sidewalk and highway miles as the winds were just too high to remain safely on the beach. Walking through Brookings was pleasant though and I enjoyed my mocha as Pepe wolfed down a couple dog treats from the barista. As we approached the state line, I could tell that even Pepe was aware that we were completing our journey today. With winds blowing and stinging rain, we made it to the California State line and the Chrissey Field State Recreation Site. Pepe and I enjoyed about an hour of time sitting under the building's awning enjoying our success, before my boyfriend Paul pulled up in our little Toyota Yaris, ready to hit the road and fly to Greenland. It was an amazing feeling to finally complete the OCT!! On to the next grand adventure!
Audrey Jo's Journal on Thru-Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, Part 3