Neahkahnie: Neah-Kah-Nie in the Tillamook language can be translated as "the place of the supreme deity."I had remarked to EastKing that I felt Native American and other spirits on this mountain, and I honestly did not know the history of this mountain when I went up it. If I had, I might have been inclined to go treasure hunting myself, but alas, I was not meant to find out about the history of the mountain until after I summited it. And maybe that was better, because the eerie haunting winds might have spooked me. There were several interesting things that happened on this mountain: The sun would get brighter with each switchback and the cloudiness disappeared gradually, little by little, until it had disappeared completely when I made it up. Also, there was a tree that fell on the way down and it sounded like a bomb going off. Those are just two main highlights, not to mention the beauty of the flowers and the meadow and the amazing greenery of this mountain. I am personally fascinated by the legend of this mountain, and am proud of the state of Oregon for not charging to go up it, which they would do on the East Coast. I am also proud that despite a movie being made in 2006 (which I just found out about today) called the “Tillamook Treasure” that there is nothing really uber touristy about this mountain.
There are some interesting facts I just found out about this mountain, just yesterday, and the more today, so I have to mention those cool facts first. It is the fact that this mountain, once inhabited in populous by the Tillamook tribe, was inhabited by Spanish settlers in the 16th century. The legend goes that one of the sailors knew that Native Americans would not disturb a man’s grave, so he purposely plunged a sword into an African slave. At that point, they buried the hidden treasure. Despite numerous excavations attempted by hundreds of people over hundreds of years, and two men dying in their excavation efforts in the 1930’s, no treasure has been found. However, in the 1870’s, a collection of stones with arrows marked on them and the one with the letters “DEW” was found by treasure hunter Pat Smith.
I have never seen such splendorous, magnificent beauty as the Oregon Coast. EastKing (Greg, my husband) never could make it there before due to being poor. We had tried a couple of summers ago in a Mercury Sable, and we never made it, because that car broke down at a gas station and was spilling fluids. We finally and most recently bought a Ford Escort at an Auto Auction and it had run perfectly and got us there. It actually stopped working the next day at EK’s work and is sitting in his parking lot at his work. But, it got us to where we needed to go.
This mountain became my all-time favorite mountain, passing Mount Lassen and Mount Lafayette. It is truly amazing that EastKing picked this mountain for me: Its Native American namesake, the fact that it was challenging to me and forced me to challenge myself, the fact that it had an ocean view, the fact that the flowers and greenery were absolutely amazing and lent to a spiritual, “Alice in Wonderland” feel (or The Hobbit, take your pick). I think what is most incredible was finally reaching the top to see the most amazing view I have ever seen.
The way up Neahkahnie starts out with a picturesque, open field that graduates up and up. However, it does so gradually, through numerous switchbacks, and pretty much continues that way until you get to the top. The path is quite narrow on the way up, and I am truly grateful that it was not rainy, b/c our way up this was sunny and temperate. I still got fatigued but not because of the heat but just because I have fibromyalgia and I have chronic fatigue.
The first thing that I really noticed was the friendliest of local Oregonians, who impressed me with their refreshing welcome, free of the passive aggressive style of many Seattlites. I got into a few nice conversations and I really loved meeting some great people. We also found that this trail was pretty populated and there are all kinds of people on the trail, young, old, teenagers, families, you name it. We also saw many beautiful dogs.
When I started the trail, one old guy looked at me with a dirty look as if to say, “You will not make it to the top.” I can read people very well, and he did not say hello and was not friendly looking at all, and then later complained about the cloudy view at the top. When I smiled and told him to have a good day, he stared at me stone cold and kept going. EastKing says to use these people as motivation. I will, once I am doing being pissed at them for being judgmental. EastKing and I surmised later that the view kept opening up the closer we got to the top, so the late stragglers (as it seemed on the way back we were the next to last people on the trail) got the better view.
I had learned many things on my way up and my way down: How to trust one’s feet when scrambling. I had no choice but to scramble to the top rocks on the top of the summit. As we got closer to the top, I had gone up the wrong scramble of rocks, as EastKing had directed me there. These are sharp, jutting rocks and hard to navigate through. So, I quickly realized that this trail did not lead anywhere. As always, I must have looked like a cartoon character as my anxiety got the better of me and I panicked. This seems amusing to others, I am sure, as I struggled to get a grip of my surroundings. After I calmed down from that ordeal, I had to regain strength to get up to the top of the mountain. I had to trust a lot of what EastKing told me. Because I am so close to EastKing, sometimes it is hard for me to listen to him. We found that out on the way down, which I will talk about in a moment.
To say that the summit was breathtaking is to put it mildly. It was as if the earth had revealed itself from this summit, and it indeed, to me, was from the supreme gods, as Native American legend says. I know EK has seen greater and bigger. For me, this was and will always remain a big deal. It is not just the view, but the struggle up this mountain I also know that it represents. Once this family who had seen my anxiety earlier had left, EastKing and I were struck with some amount of vertigo as we both tried to maneuver a place to sit up this small placement of rocks. They were jutting up my behind, so it was hard to sit anywhere, and with my extra weight, it became difficult. Standing is and was the better option, and I got a great picture of me on the summit. The hardest thing about being heavy is maneuvering when your feet and your legs and lower back start hurting bad (and shoulders) from all the extra weight. I already have bad shoulders from my car accident, so it was hard for me. It was a steep scramble on the way down, so after EastKing realized I was better off by myself to maneuver down, I made it. I learned so much that day about where to place my feet, how to place my weight on my feet, and how to use my poles so that I did not topple over. It really is tougher in some ways on the way down with gravity and fatigue combining into this force that makes it struggle as the big bear woman that I am.
On the way down, I heard a very loud bang, like a bomb went off, and we realized it was a tree that fell. That haunted happening adds a new dimension to what I read about the treasure and the fact that people have died on this mountain for greed and treasure.
The serendipitous chain of events that led to the final conclusion on this mountain led me to believe that not only were there spirits on this mountain, but they were also looking out for us. They orchestrated the timing perfectly. We had come down between 8:30 pm. to 9:00 p.m. and the sun was setting perfectly across the meadow part of the trail, enabling EastKing and I to get many great pictures of the Oregon Coast with haystacks. Thanks, Neahkahanie. With good spirit – to all of you…