Larry Larson saw his life flash before his eyes last month as he walked along Highway 101.
The 63-year-old Mt. Hood resident, who has just returned home after walking the entire 365-mile length of the Oregon Coast, almost didn’t make it.
Larson’s 26-day journey was nearly cut short by an out-of-control 18-wheeler, which took a curve too fast and crossed into the shoulder, forcing him to fling himself onto the rocks that lined the road.
“Walking along the roads took some of the fun out of it,” said Larson, who pondered the idea of walking the coast while house-sitting in Florence last spring. “I would do it again in a heartbeat, but next time, I would use more of a shuttle system to avoid close calls like that.”
However, while 80 miles of his Oregon Coast trek took place along the highway, the majority of the trip involved walking along the beach, crossing rivers, and
enjoying the good life.
“Most of the time, I was in solitude,” said Larson, who returned home Oct. 2 and then ran the Portland Marathon on Oct. 6. “To be down on the beach at sunrise was magnificent. The tide had erased all signs of man and it was just an awesome feeling.”
Larson set out from Fort Stevens on a warm fall morning in early September, and followed the soon-to-be-completed Oregon Coast Trail down to the California state line.
He walked an average of 15 miles per day, and stayed in hotels along the way to stay rested and in good walking shape. The first 13 days were all by himself, but he received help the final two weeks from his friend Ann Macaulay, who is visiting from Dublin, Ireland.
“As soon as Larry mentioned he was going to walk the coast, I signed up right away,” said Macaulay, who offered road and moral support along the way.
Larson said that while the road-walking was burdensome, the biggest challenge was crossing the many rivers that line the Oregon Coast.
“There were several rivers I had to wade across,” he said. “But in some places, I was lucky to hitch a ride with some of the fishing boats. That probably saved me a couple days of walking.”
Larson is no stranger to long treks, having completed 18 marathons over the years. But this one may be the most special.
“Some might yawn when I tell them I walked the entire Oregon Coast, but I don’t think they understand all the logistics involved,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do it, and now I’m proud to say that I have.”