Friday, April 1, 2016

CoastWalk Oregon: Join me in September

“You start out as a recreationist, but over time,
with enough time, you end up a conservationist.”
—Bonnie Olin, author of Owyhee River Journals

This blog is the perfect place to share something I’m helping pull together as part of my day job with North Coast Land Conservancy: the inaugural CoastWalk Oregon. Registration opened today.

It’s “only” 30 miles, so thru-hikers aren’t the target audience. But perhaps you or a friend would enjoy a late-summer, supported, 3-day taste of the OCT (with a party at day’s end).  It should be a good time; I seriously expect it to fill pretty quickly. I’ll be there with a bunch of my friends!

The registration fee is pretty steep, but there’s a reason: most of it is a donation toward conserving more coastal land, including the views you enjoy as you hike the OCT. Which brought to mind the above quote—I heard the author speak a couple of nights ago. It rang a bell for me. Not that I haven't always been a conservationist—it’s an ethic I grew up with. But I’ve found that the more I walk, the more I value the intrinsic worth of what I’m walking through—its value not only to my own mental and physical health but to all the other beings, the plants and wildlife that require nothing more than SPACE and will thrive if we are willing to share the Earth with them and not claim all of it for the seemingly unlimited uses we can think up, none of them bad things if there aren’t too many of them and they’re not usurping particularly sensitive habitat: housing, strip malls, ballfields, whatever. I hope salmon continue to run up these coastal streams, and they will if we have large, connected forests, laced with streams that aren’t filled with sediments from clear-cutting but that have gravel for salmon to spawn in, with a healthy ocean where they can grow.

The Oregon Coast Trail is possible only because early state leaders had the vision to conserve the entire beach, and because the state’s first parks superintendent made it his personal mission to conserve the coast’s magnificent headlands. Virtually all the headlands you will hike over on the Oregon Coast Trail were once logged. But one by one, over the past century, they were acquired as state parks (or national forest) and are re-growing. They're beautiful now, and they're on their way to becoming even more beautiful in a few hundred years, thanks to people of vision who understood the value of conservation and who knew that it sometimes takes several human generations—well beyond one’s own lifetime—to see the results.

So join me on CoastWalk Oregon (or skip it and make a donation to North Coast Land Conservancy). Or hike the OCT on your own, or pieces of it. That’s where all good things start, in my experience: outside, in the Big Quiet that Bonnie Olin talks about, on a river or a trail, when we have the space and time to think about what matters most to us.