Tomorrow marks our first week on the PCH and wow what a wicked week it’s been. And I mean wicked in the boston sense – wicked cool, wicked pretty, wicked dangerous, & wicked wicked. Let me start out with the stretch leading up to it.
It helps to have native knowledge on the road and I’m grateful for Cindy & Rob & Vince & Diane who on separate occasions took me scouting which convinced me it was way way too risky for the boys and me. So I did the Salem to Corvallis to Newport stretch alone.
Without exception it was singularly the deadliest road I’ve walked. Ever. I should’ve known something was amiss by the complete absence of cyclist on Hwy 20 & that was the week of the 4th.
I stopped about midway at a church in eddyville to charge my equipment and the pastor remarked that they should receive hazard pay for living on the highway given the number of deaths. Great. Thanks for that padre.
The droves of holiday boaters were one thing, the elongated lumber trucks to and from Philomath another but what really posed the greatest risk was the road itself. The last 15 miles were virtually shoulder less. That’s fine – seen that done that before. But over time the road had eroded to the point that all that’s left is inches of composite material that barely provided perch.
Guardrails separated me from 20-30 foot slopes and since I had very little leeway on either side I spent a lot to time straddling them. In poker you always want to have an out. On the road I call them bailouts. If you’re on a collision course at least you have an option. At best I had half an out and my odds were no better than a coin toss.
I can assure you, had I walked that stretch of highway 20 with the boys we would not have made it through alive. Thanks to the folks who helped.
Was a welcome sight and the start of a new chapter in this journey.
I reflect back on our first walk when we took the port Jeff from Long Island ferry to Bridgeport CT and our plan was to take 25 up to new town and then over to Hartford. Everyone I met said you knucklehead, take Route 1 along the New England coastline to boston. So we turned south and walked back down to west haven and it was one of the best decisions I made.
I feel that way about the PCH and the timing was perfect. For the most part we’ve had fair weather but just as I was taking on 20 and cresting the coastal mountains, temperatures in the wilamette valley, a basin that runs from Portland to Eugene, were topping the upper 90s and that’s meteorologically significant to the coastal climate.
As high temps in the valley rise and pull winds and mist off the Pacific Ocean and since we’ve been on the PCH it’s been in the 60s during the day and 50s at nighttime perfect walking conditions for the fuzzybutts.
Except I’m cold. I’ve since shed my gloves and neck gator and I’m kinda regretting that now. There’s a weird wettiness even to the warmth with which I am unfamiliar and the chill is sometimes unshakable.
Whoever said ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco’. I’m not that far south yet but I have an inkling what they were saying.
For four months we’ll be on this road – longer than any other we’ve travelled and I’m just learning her secrets. The beauty of the Oregon part of it is if not unparalleled, unsurpassed by any coastline I’ve walked.
Still. I’m quite certain. She has many secrets left.