A Walk In A Wild Oregon Forest

This afternoon Chad and I found ourselves in a wild forest full of towering trees, a multitude of mushrooms, and glowing autumn leaves. And when I say we found ourselves there, I mean that we got back to some integral, essential part of who each of us are, and who we are as a couple. Not that these parts were lost, just too darn busy.

We decided to move from Northeast Utah to Southwest Oregon over the summer. This decision was motivated by various factors, including me losing a job, and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly. We loved our high desert haunts in Utah, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I sobbed like a baby when the reality of moving kicked in. I knew I would miss our special desert hiking spots, and indeed, I do.

So finding a hiking spot of our own in our new location was very important for us. Spending time in a wild place that is minimally touched by human intention is, for both of us, healing, rejuvenating, and exhilarating. Today we enjoyed those feelings as we walked through the forest under the incredible heights of douglas firs, hemlocks, western red cedars, and many other species of beautiful trees.

It is enlightening to see what nature does when left to its own devices. The trees that fall to the forest floor are allowed to remain there, decomposing, creating a delightfully spongy surface to walk on. We kept noticing pairs of trees growing side by side: one douglas fir and one hemlock, with each tree thriving as they grow closely side by side.

The past several months have been exceptionally busy for both of us. Moving is a major feat that comes with several different varieties of stress to deal with, not to mention all the unpacking and getting settled in. Chad is adjusting to a new job, and I am starting up a new business. Our new life in a new community has been full of warm social interactions and exciting cultural opportunities. Yet, life isn’t quite in balance until we have our wild places. And now we do.

Cape Blanco Cabin Camping and a Farewell

Back in May, Chad and I traveled through Oregon and made a stop at Cape Blanco State Park, on the coast. We arrived at the park in early evening to a cool and cloudy 53 degrees. The campground is nestled into a forest populated mainly by giant, spooky looking Sitka Spruce trees. The forest is dense and the lower limbs of the trees tend to be broken off and covered with moss. You take a short walk out of the forest and find yourself on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

After walking through the gloomy forest and braving the coastal winds, we headed back to our cozy cabin. The cabin featured a nice little back porch and had a picnic table and fire pit but it was just so windy that we decided to spend the evening in the cabin rather than hanging out under the night sky. It was also late by then so we decided to just eat some snacks instead of having a proper dinner.

We had a good night’s rest in the cabin and were delighted to see that the weather had calmed and that the sun was peaking down through the trees. We ate our camping breakfast (yogurt, peanut butter, fruit, GF cereal) out on our little picnic table and then wandered around the campground a bit, enjoying the sun peaking through the trees.

It seems that we were there at the right time of year as far as flower-viewing goes. Everything seemed to be in bloom! We walked over the bluffs checking out the local vegetation and eventually headed down to one of the state park’s beaches.

We had the entire beach to ourselves and of course, ended up doing things that you feel compelled to do on a beach: run around on the sand, frolic in the surf, watch the waves, and bust a few yoga poses.

We also had a mission for our beach visit – scattering the ashes of one of Chad’s recently departed friends, John. John’s wife Mickey had a novel idea for spreading his ashes – she put the ashes into small bags and asked everyone who attended his memorial service to scatter them in places that he would have loved. As a fellow outdoor and wilderness lover, Chad thought that John would appreciate having a tiny part of himself left at wild and rugged Cape Blanco. It felt good to do something symbolic to memorialize him.

Just as we were about to leave the beach, Chad noticed something in the water. A little head bobbing above the waves that almost looked like a person. What swims in the water and has a head that looks like a person? A ghost? No. A sea lion.

Spending time on a beach is exhilarating for so many reasons. Of course, there’s the wind, the waves, the sand. For me there is excitement in being at the edge of a whole different habitat, the ocean. Catching glimpses of this alien but very earthly world is a good reminder to me that our day-to-day concerns (for instance, whether we get to our next destination on time) are small and probably not all that important. And maybe if things don’t go as planned, something wonderful will end up happening…