Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Leafing through North America's Wild (Pacific) Edge

I just received my own copy of The Wild Edge: Freedom to Roam the Pacific Coast, a gorgeous coffee-table book (that really is much more than a coffee-table book). The publisher Braided River calls it a photographic campaign for conservation, which is apt.

I was asked to contribute profiles of a dozen heroes of conservation for the book--a great experience. (I did most of the interviews by phone--for example, with a whale scientist in his office in Cabo San Lucas and, by satellite phone, with a Canadian activist in his boat off the coast of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest). The lead essays by Bruce Barcott, Philippe Cousteau, Eric Scigliano and others are excellent, compellingly spelling out the need for coast-wide conservation and lyrically describing all the ways the ocean, shoreline, and continent's edge from Baja to the Arctic are inextricably interconnected.

I mean, how could it not be?

This book is not only a great consciousness-raiser but pleasure to read and peruse.

People interested in the Oregon Coast Trail, people who love the Oregon Coast, ought to check out The Wild Edge. The publishers have developed a beautiful website to support it, at thewildedge.org.

And if you're in the area, North Coast Land Conservancy is throwing a book-release party and celebration of coastal conservation at the Red Building in Astoria this Friday, Oct. 23.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"The hike literally changed me"

In Oswald West State Park, south of Arch Cape
On Jan. 12 of this year I received the following email from Patti of LaCrosse, Wisconsin:

"Thanks for your blog, book and all that you've put out there to advance the ease of hiking the OCT. I've been poring over your blog. My husband and I visited Gold Beach 3 years ago and completed multiple day hikes during that week; I was smitten and vowed to return. Now, on the verge of turning 55 and having made a major life change, I've been mulling the possibility of thru-hiking the OCT toward the end of summer 2015. My question is this: am I completely crazy to even be thinking of doing such a thing? While I've day hiked 14 miles at a stretch (and stumbled toward the end!) that's a very different animal than hiking day in and out 10 to 15 miles for a month or more. The up side is that I don't need to be anywhere, nor do I have a schedule, so I could adjust the hike accordingly… Any words of wisdom would be appreciated as I contemplate the adventure. "

Looking south from the summit of Neahkahnie Mountain
We corresponded a few more times. Then eight months later, on Sept. 8, I heard from Patti again:

"A quick email to let you know that this afternoon I finished thru-hiking the OCT, from north to south.  What an indescribable experience. So many contrasts, just like the coast itself. A life-changing experience."

Early morning at Carter Lake, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Yesterday she sent me some photos. “The hike literally changed me,” she writes. I’ll let her photos continue to tell the story.

Between Thomas Creek and Indian Sands, Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Meeting her ride home at Crissey Field Welcome Center--the end of the trail

Friday, October 2, 2015

The new book is out! And I already have updates from the field

As of yesterday, the new edition of Day Hiking: Oregon Coast is out, with very comprehensive directions for thru-hiking the Oregon Coast Trail. (So in fact it's NOT just for day hikers! But plenty for them too.) Easy to get--order from any book retailer.

I have not actually seen it yet (maybe arriving today?) but I feel good about it; the Mountaineers Books editors are magnificent and they saved me from plenty of embarrassing mistakes ("directional dyslexia" mostly--saying NORTH when I meant to say SOUTH, that kind of thing).

I would urge--not only for my slight financial benefit, but for your sanity--that you buy and use it if you are planning a thru-hike (rather than depending on earlier posts in this blog). I'm all about ultralight, but this is a worthwhile 9.5 ounces (and obsessives can always tear out the pages about day hikes they don't plan to take.)

I hope hikers will continue to send me updates, which I'll post here.  This morning I received some trail updates from Patti Correll-Syring, who thru-hiked the entire OCT in August and early September. (In most years, October is getting a bit late to hike the OCT, but you might get away with it this year.) Here are updates (and one correction) to supplement what you'll find in the book, starting at the south end of Oregon Dunes NRA:

Horsfall Beach: The USFS campsite here that caters to ORV enthusiasts now has no potable water and porta-potties only. Bluebill Campground (also USFS) is just 0.75 miles to the east on Horsfall Road; it's clean, quiet, and has potable water and well-maintained vault toilets.

Nesika Beach: The beach must be exited at the north end; access at the south end is private and signed as such (sorry about that).

Cape Sebastian: The trail up Cape Sebastian from the north was very well maintained and clearly signed (yay!); no confusion, Patti says.

Boardman State Scenic Corridor: The trail at the very north end of Boardman (north of Arch Rock Picnic Area) has not been maintained and was very difficult to follow; you might consider staying on the highway all the way to the picnic area. Here are her comments: "A machete would have been helpful. Only indication of trail were 3 plastic red ties affixed to tree branches spaced within 20 yards of each other. Found the way with Bonnie’s trail guide, Gaia GPS app, and following what appeared to be a slight path underneath overgrown vegetation, apparently traversed by other hikers (long ago?!) Be forewarned that this stretch holds potential for injury due to overgrown thick blackberry bushes with thorns and a section with narrow, soft crumbling ledge; wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt, and be ready to extricate hundreds of burs from clothing and any exposed wool socks."

Thank you for these updates, Patti!