I CLIMBED THE STEEP INCLINE of Earth mounting my way through winding trail of mud and puddles and rocks. I wore my glasses which I hate to wear as they only correct the vision in my left eye while leaving my right to fend for itself in the cloudy haze of blur. This does well for me to see the details to be sure that the stick I think I am about to step on is not in actuality a snake; yet it destroys what depth perception I would have if both eyes were on equal playing field. Because of this where I thought was flat land was actually a muddy slope, and I just about fell into the mudpits on many occasions succumbing to them only once.
Hours passed as I made my way to what I had been in very undetailed explanation told was a campground with some kind of cabins for weary hikers to find rest for the night. I had already walked at least 20 miles from Fort Stevens State Park where I began this new phase of pilgrimaging the Great Oregon Coast.
It started like all great pilgrimages do; filled with purpose and as though there were some “holy land” I was to discover. I began to wonder what holy land it is I am walking toward as this was still unknown to me- but known it is there as one feels the unseen wind. Perhaps the life of a pilgrim is to wander not to a particular historical spot on a map but to be one who has discovered their own holiness not as something they possess but as something to introduce those he or she encounters along the path to the fact that they are holy too, don’t you see? For we are all pilgrims wandering around like lost sheep who when finding the Shepherd find the holy land we once sought with toil and restlessness.
“I must be getting close…” I told myself for what must have been hours which only added fan to flame of my sweatsoaked and mud-filled clothes weighing me down with discomfort. “This will all be worth it soon. As soon as I arrive I am going to sleep better than I have in quite some time…” I would say to myself to instill the vision of the light at the end of the tunnel: The Great Reward one receives after they have accomplished something very few people would go out of their doors to do and I began to think myself crazy for doing so.
It had been at least two hours since I’d see anyone on the trail. .This was disconcerting only by the fact that I wasn’t sure if I was even going in the right direction, and when I would initially passby day-hikers, always heading in the opposite direction of me, they informed me that I was indeed headed in the right way. But in these past two hours I had come to several forks and 3 way stops and chose what seemed like the best course at the time, hoping that I would not end up pitching my tent somewhere randomly along this steeply-sloped trail which yielded very map few if any potential spots for sleep.
The only map I had said “hike to viewpoint and continue south to campground” but which fork in the road was a trail heading south? This I did not know. I reached several what I would call “viewpoints” and gazed out with wonder at how far atop this mount I exactly was. The ground began even-ing out as fog which I expect is always present here greeted me with a cool mist and drizzly sprinkle in the form of sparingly but large drops; as though what would have been a mist of millions more tiny droplets yet to be born had decided to converge together to form several large drops that landed right on my cap every few moments.
I stopped and observed this phenomenon. I stopped and observed the peace on top of this mount. I stopped and the world stopped with me as the weariness and discomfort of my legs my thoughts said could go no farther evaporated at the sheer magnitude of beauty I was so blessed to be observing in this eternal moment. Time to continue…
The mud increased, due to the foggy climate no doubt, and now there was little if any place to walk that was not mud. I knew that I must be getting closer and closer to that campground someone told me of and each step I would take resounded with greater and greater clarity that I was alright and would find my reward shortly.
And reward I did receive. This was not the reward I had thought was my reward at all. It was not that I had arrived at the campground, but suddenly and right in front of my eyes were two fellow hikers. I was reconnected with human civilization. I was reconnected with true humanity. And this was the great reward of my lengthy-walking-day. It wasn’t to find a place of rest; rather, my place of rest was simply knowing that I was not alone. This was my holy land on this day. This is the holy land we are all walking toward: We, humanity, are a family. We are all walking to be reconnected with one another.
Two gents’ from Portland who came to the coast for a 3 day hike and were following a guide which gave them different, although also undetailed information about this hike and camping area said to be somewhere in this enormous forest. We both talked about how “my map said we should have been there about an hour ago” and agreed with singularity that it must be approaching soon, so continue on we shall.
And finally, a clearing seemed to approach our views, the mud of the trail gaveway, and we arrived at our home-base for the night.
I didn’t know what to expect from a “primitive” camp such as these. But after this day the cabins felt like being at a luxurious resort. They had bunk-beds made of wood, which of course would be a hard-night’s sleep in the literal sense, but my padding kept me comfortable and the canvas door which rolls down in front of the opening would keep all things bigger than a mouse or snake out of the resting place.