Neskowin to Lincoln City
The trail unofficially known as Phil was closed for good reason. But since our new friends in Neskowin who had dragged a plastic dining set to the beach to share a sunset pasta dinner with us had assured us it was OK to hike, we trekked on. A mudslide perhaps had strewn tree trunks and branches across the path and stream-fed weeds grew tall enough to render it invisible in parts.
On the other hand, boot and dog prints made us think we weren’t alone. Someone with a hatched (who we frankly referred to as hatchet man) had cut slits in the logs to make them passable, encouraging us to continue. However, when the dog prints clearly enlarged to bear prints my body tensed with anxiety and I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out and hitch a ride to Devil’s Lake.
Sure, I’ve been on sub-par trails and traipsed through the habitats of animals who sometimes maul humans, but I’d always had someone more experienced to defer to. My anxiety welled as I realized I was the experienced one.
I had forgotten to tell someone other than the Neskowin pair we’d known for less than a day about our whereabouts and the list of things that could go morbidly wrong raced through my mind. I suddenly felt foolish. So when the trail opened to a gravel road that cut through it, we abandoned our nature trek for the highway — too nervous from following bear tracks and tired of clapping our way up a mountain to say the hike was still enjoyable.