This was a huge day. I captured a track, but my phone died just before we reached Manzanita, so it’s not quite complete. Someday I’ll figure out how to add annotations to these maps so you can see where the photos are taken.
After a hearty hit-the-road breakfast with the gang, we steeled ourselves for a long day on the trail. A short stroll from the Arch Cape grocery, we picked up the trail and followed it through the woods towards Cape Falcon. This is an old growth forest, but the path is obviously well-tended.
The trail switchbacks up the bluff, and the forest couldn’t decide if it was Mirkwood or Lothlórien.
There was windfall here, though not nearly as bad as Day 4. We had an easy clamber once, and had to detour (on well-worn tracks) a couple more times.
This trail is rated Difficult for good reason – we were glad to be free of the packs. After 3 miles of switchbacking uphill, we reached the crest of the first bluff, and caught sight of whence we came. Becky and Margaret hiked pretty much all the beach you can see in this photo on Day 5, ending between the nearest two bluffs. We paused for a snack-and-score to commemorate the moment.
We continued on along the cliff’s edge to the next bluff. This next shot shows where we were standing for the above score.
The main trail continues on without ever reaching the point of Falcon Cape, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
From here, we descended to the beach at Smuggler’s Cove, stopped at the restrooms, and prepared ourselves for the Neahkahnie Mountain Trail. It was about 2:30 pm, and we still had half our hike in front of us (though it was to be the easier half). There’s about half a mile of uphill, then some flats, then another half mile climb to 101.
From here, our guidebook told us there were two options: summit Mount Neahkahnie (about 1500 vertical feet and 4 miles) or follow 101 (1.5 miles of 7% uphill grade on pavement). We thought long and hard, let our tired-but-strong legs be heard, and made our choice.
We found that this was not a bad choice, view-wise, though humbling. Our campground is at the end of that spit, as Becky is tiredly realizing.
We finally strolled in to Manzanita around 7, and went scrounging for food. We happened on a dog-friendly pub that had patio seating, so we sat down for burgers and rewarded our intrepid scout pug with a bowl of bacon. We were so hungry that we forgot to take a picture until there wasn’t much left to see.
You might think we’d be done at this point, but no – our campground was on the other end of town. With bellies full of protein, we traipsed southward to Nehalem Bay State Park.
Side note: this campground has the longest road from campground to day-use area I have ever seen. I hiked yet another mile to retrieve our car.
Our total mileage for this day was 13, with around 5,000 vertical feet. This was definitely the hardest day so far, and potentially the hardest day of the entire journey, but it only makes us want more.