Tammy Owen

While I was in college I decided to walk from town to the coast along logging roads. Jan, a steadfast friend, agreed to go with me, though she had doubts about the logging road part. I spent hours pouring over and photocopying topo maps of the area. Just before the trip I taped the relevant parts together and highlighted my course. It looked totally doable.

But then a little hitch surfaced. Jan invited her mom, and her mom wanted the car along to camp out in. Logging roads were no longer an option. Not only that, but we had to have friends move her car to the next camp every day, which also meant that we had to decide where to camp in advance, and then get there. Ron, my future husband, was one of those friends that offered to help.  So much for packing everything I needed on my back and hiking deep into the woods.

I was a little miffed at the time, but looking back, it was probably the safer way to go. Still, I didn’t want safe. I wanted adventure! I wanted wilderness! I wanted to not hike the extra twenty miles this added to our trip.

I got over it quickly as the miles passed under my feet. We saw so much. Back road properties, little cabins in the woods, climax forests where the ground was bare of everything except a few ferns, scraggly hazelnuts and hollow-stemmed elderberries. Swamps filled with reeking, gorgeous yellow skunk cabbage blossoms.

But toward the end I was starting to poop out. Sore, tired, and sick of camp food, I was ready to walk out on the beach and soak my feet in icy seawater for a while.

Our friends passed us on that last stretch of road. Ron promised me he would let me know how far we had to go, and even said he’d walk with us that last bit.

As we trooped on by horses at pasture and charming ranch homes, I started to wonder. It had been at least an hour since I’d talked to Ron. According to my calculations, at this point we should have been just a couple of miles at most from the coast. Where were they?

They finally showed up. The vehicle pulled over and Ron got out, walking toward me with a grim expression. The road, he told me, didn’t go through. They had to drive around for an hour before they found a way to the coast. It would add on about twenty miles.

My heart sank. It was late morning, and if I set my fastest pace I might reach the water by nightfall. Maybe. We’d covered about a hundred miles, twenty five or so miles a day and ....

... and Steve was laughing. Apparently they’d stopped for ice cream.

I hit Ron hard in the ribs. He didn’t care. He was laughing too hard to feel it.

When I reached the water less than a half hour later, I danced in the waves, and then I found a restaurant that was going out of business. I could have as many crab claws as I wanted for practically nothing.

It was unbelievably rich and delicious, dripping with clarified garlic butter ... the perfect culmination to a great hike.