By Cameron McKirdy
I’m so sore. I hiked from Seaside to the Hiker’s Cabins on Tillamook Head. It’s just under four miles, but it took nearly two hours. Then the next morning I hiked back, and walked a few more for good measure.
My 55L backpack weighed at least 40 pounds. And I almost wore 5lb ankle weights too. My Dad tagged along. He had hiking poles, which I tried. They took some of the strain off my legs, and gave me a good arm workout. The trail was nasty. So muddy. Dad said it was the worst time of the year to climb there, which made it the best for me. I wanted a challenge.
We had to climb over a few downed trees, but besides mud, the trail was well kept. It was never ending though. My Dad kept asking if we were there yet, like me on our road trips growing up. He said, “if I was on a treadmill, we would be there already.” Yeah. Working out in a gym is nothing like real life.
There were a couple lookouts over the Pacific Ocean, but it was foggy, and rainy. The canopy from the trees sheltered us some, but I was still soaked. I didn’t take any pictures going there, I knew it was going to be sunny the following day. Once we got to the log cabins, I was on my own. I changed clothes, and got my bed ready.
I used a new sleeping system. I just bought a gortex camo bivy, so that was my outer layer. I also brought my Coleman mummy style sleeping bag rated down to 25 degrees. Then I had a mummy shaped inflatable insulated sleeping pad. It was 2.5 inches thick! Comfortable, but next time I want to use one that’s lower profile, so my face has more clearance. It was a tight fit. I’m a big dude, so sleeping in a bivy bag was a little claustrophobic at first.
I passed out super early. 6PM. I was tired, and just trying to stay warm in my bag. I woke up once, just to say hi to the mice in the bunk above me. They checked out my stuff, left their mark, and bounced. I was stoked in the morning when I popped my head out and saw daylight. I couldn’t wait to hike back to Seaside. The sun was shining, and I could see the end of the ocean.
On the trek back I snapped the pictures you see below. It’s a magical place, eager to be explored. I buried an emergency cache up there, full of food, water purification tablets, matches and more. Maybe someday I will have to flee the city, and retrieve it. On hikes like this you are forced to make decisions. Take the long route around the mud pit, or charge it. I went right through the mess usually. Foolishly I tried to take a shortcut down a slick, rocky hill once. I slipped, and tried to plant my heels in the bank, but couldn’t stop. I slid on my butt, until I snatched a root. No blood. I didn’t take a picture of the slide either, I kept charging.
Four miles later, I made it from the cabins to The Cove in Seaside, OR. I walked through the city, and got some strange looks with my backpack on. That and my backside was covered in mud. I made it home, showered, and passed out. I loved every second of the adventure. It was brutal, but I enjoy training hard. Hike Tillamook Head if you can, it’s part of the majestic Oregon Coast Trail. Now where’s the ice?