Sometime around 10:30 last night I heard a car engine; not good. Then I heard a car door open; not good. Then I heard another door open; not good. Then I heard male and female voices; not good. Then I heard heavy boots; not good. Then I saw flashlight beams inside my tent; really, really not good.
The park rangers had somehow sniffed me out.
“No overnight camping, sir, you have to leave.”
“Just a few more hours? I’ll be gone before daybreak.”
“Sorry, sir, you have to go now.”
I got out of the tent, broke it down, packed up my bike, and started riding north on the 101 out of Bandon. All the motels said “Sorry!” in red lights. And that’s exactly how I felt. By 11:30 my headlight was almost out; I’d been scouring the roadsides for somewhere to lie down and hide out of the view of oncoming traffic.
Finally I saw a long guardrail with a dirt path running parallel to it. I got off and pushed the bike along the dirt path, which became an embankment overgrown with trees. My light was flickering. “Perfect,” I thought.
At that moment the ground slipped out from underneath my feet and I fell along with my bike several feet into incredibly thick brush. My bike landed on top of me. I checked to see if I was okay; miraculously I’d held onto the light. The roadway was now about eight feet above my head, which was great because no one could see me, but terrible because I was stuck in a small ravine.
The headlight revealed I was in a blueberry bush. They were ripe. I munched a few. Hmmm … and sweet.
I unfastened by bags one by one and scrambled up the slope. Finally all that was left was the bike. I dragged it up by the rack, rear wheel first. Now I was high enough that I could be seen by traffic, so I scooted a little farther down to that perfect point where I was low enough not to be seen but not so low that I fell back into the gully.
I pulled out my sleeping bag, threw it over me, and laid on the gravel. The cold gravel. The gravel that got progressively colder as the night wore on. A bullfrog croaked from the other side of the thicket. Giant trucks came tearing by. The ground shook. Pebbles washed into my jacket.
I curled up into an ever tighter fetal ball as the night got colder. By 5:00 it was still dark but the gloaming was enough to haul everything back to the road, load on the saddlebags and see if my bike still worked.
It did. By 5:30 I was pedaling in the something-less-than-darkness towards the Seven Devils cutoff. I was exhausted and still bone cold. After an hour, with the sun properly up but unable to cut through the fog, I found a dirt path and pushed my bike up it.
The area was covered with beer cans and dirty tissues; I moved them out of the way, spread my pad and sleeping bag and caught about an hour of shut-eye. Upon awakening I made a cup of coffee and had some granola. Mosquitoes had been biting me all night.
I rode into Charleston and then into Coos Bay, found a public toilet in a park, then found a laundromat. At the coin laundry I charged my computer, phone, and headlight and tried to make plans for the rest of the day. It was looking like Winchester, definitely another bivouac, but hopefully better hidden.
And now I had clean clothes, some washed for the first time since July 10. So, there’s that.
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