Yesterday I hiked what was supposed to be a four-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail, but turned out to be only two miles. Apparently, the distance for that particular hike was calculated as round trip rather than one way, but since the description left out that salient point, when I emerged from the woods into the parking lot after only an hour, I was confused. I wasn’t lost, of course, but I felt lost since I didn’t know where I was exactly, and I didn’t seem to have a phone signal to contact my ride in case I had to notify them of a change in plans. So I continued on down the trail, hoping that the next turnout would give me a better idea of where I was.
The sections I hiked were not really difficult except in spots where steps up or down were more than I could handle. (Like stepping up onto or down from a slanting, very narrow backless chair.) Sometimes I could pull myself up with the help of a trailside tree, other times I had to clamber up on my knees.
After I left the little parking lot, the trail became steeper and narrower. The footpath as a whole was narrow — often only about a foot wide — but sometimes this additional trail section was only six inches wide. And there were more parts that were hard for me to climb up or down. Still, I managed to get to where I could see the next parking area though I couldn’t figure out how to get there from where I was. One unmarked trail led to a creek. Another unmarked trail led to a marshy area.
I did figure out where I was since I was high enough to see that the terrain matched my map. I also figured out that the mileage on the trail description was off. So I headed back up to the first parking area, assured that was my rendezvous point.
Going back up was easy. Or rather easier. (Downhill is much harder for me than uphill. Balance is off; footing is different; and if my left shoe is tied snug enough to keep my foot from sliding forward and squishing my big toe, it pinches a nerve on the the top of my foot.)
I ended up hiking four miles after all. Ended up where I was supposed to meet my friends. Ended up learning something, I am sure, though I don’t know what. Maybe: take things as they come. Perhaps: do whatever necessary to accomplish the next step no matter how awkward or inelegant. Possibly: don’t get so caught up in the doing you forget the being.
Mostly I learned that there is a pub in Oregon with the absolutely best hamburgers ever, made with beef grown and pastured four miles away.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)