Thursday, January 24, 2019

CoastWalk Oregon 2019: Registration opens March 1 ...

It begins: clambering onto the south jetty of Nehalem Bay at the start of CWO 2018

... and if last year is any indication, registration may fill by day’s end March 1. In 2018 all but about 10 of the 90 slots filled in the first 24 hours. CoastWalk Oregon is a fundraiser for North Coast Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust that operates like The Nature Conservancy to preserve habitat, but on a smaller scale, conserving lands only on the Oregon Coast. CoastWalk Oregon is a fundraiser in which participants take a guided walk on 30 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail over three days. I’m super dedicated to this organization, which is why I work year-round helping to plan this event. (That, and I love everything OCT.)

On Rockaway Beach, Day 1 of CWO 2018

Why CoastWalk Oregon? You can hike the Oregon Coast Trail for free. And you may not be in shape for three consecutive 10-mile hikes. But it makes a good training goal. What CoastWalk Oregon provides is wayfinding, snacks, trailhead shuttles, and other little trail-angel benefits. Mainly it’s a fundraiser for coastal conservation, which is what most of your $379 donation is used for. And this year’s route, which runs from Sand Lake Estuary to the southern end of Lincoln City, offers a couple of special experiences other OCT hikers don't get:

CASCADE HEAD. At this time the official route of the OCT basically bypasses Cascade Head: it’s a long highway walk with an optional detour through the forest. But the great thing about Cascade Head is the fabulous ocean view from the saltspray meadows at its western tip (arguably the best view on the Oregon Coast, and that's saying something), along with the deep Sitka spruce forest. That forest is one reason this headland is designated a UN Biosphere Reserve, the only one in Oregon. CoastWalk Oregon has chosen a route that leads you through both aspects of Cascade Head.

SOUTH OF THE SALMON RIVER. This is a part of the OCT that is in flux, with various public and private agencies trying to figure out how to add a trail segment to get hikers off the highway between the Salmon River and the beach at Road’s End. For CoastWalk Oregon, we’ve made special arrangements with private Camp Westwind to skip the highway walking and, instead, hike north through the forest and down into the camp, where we’ll have a celebration lunch before being shuttled by boat across the Salmon River to end Day 3. Very special indeed.

Hopping over creeks, Day 1 of CWO 2018

So if this appeals to you, definitely check out CoastWalk Oregon. And if you like what you see, mark your calendar to register March 1 for sure.

Approaching the summit of Cape Lookout on Day 3, CWO 2018