Devil’s Elbow and Cape Perpetua

January 14, 1984

The prettiest day I have seen in a couple of years. Although there was a chill morning breeze, the purity of air, and light, and color was truly remarkable. One disadvantage: the sea was so calm that day that the Devil’s Churn didn’t churn and the Spouting Horn didn’t spout, much to the leader’s chagrin.

I highly recommend leading Obsidian trips as a means of developing character. This is particularly true when, as in my case, you are a character to begin with. The Cape Perpetua hike definitely gave me some growing pains. For one thing, there was the blowout I had between Walton and Noti—I should say, Noti and Walton—the day of my scouting trip. Speaking of growing pains, ask Merle Traudt about the subsequent pain to his wallet. And that wasn’t all. On the day of the hike, foolishly thinking that Murphy’s Law had been satisfied, I told all the drivers to meet me at Devil’s Elbow State Park only to have one vehicle proceed to Devil’s Churn instead. “Not to worry,” I told myself, reflecting that its driver was Lee Hatch. After whiling away twenty minutes enjoying the cold, pristine morning at Devil’s Elbow, seven of us proceeded to Devil’s Churn, where we found Lee’s truck. A note on the windshield said that he and passengers Ethel Weltman and Karen Seidel were hiking up Cape Perpetua. As I squinted up at that imposing land mass, I knew that there was only one thing that a leader of my caliber could do. So I did it. I wrote back and wished them all a nice day.

Anyway, my remaining hikers and I began our rambles with a visit to the Devil’s Churn (somnolent) and the Spouting Horn (Moribund). From thence we walked up to the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center, where the outside deck furnished us with a sunny, windless spot for our luncheon stop.

Now, mind you, I don’t have a topographical map of this area. It was a matter of choice; I figure if I had one I couldn’t read it anyway. But perhaps somebody else could have solved the Mystery of the Gwynn Creek Trail. It’s rather pretty; it follows the seaward side of a hill at about eyebrow level and has fine vistas from the top. But where that trail ends, God only knows. We followed it and followed it and followed it, and every time it climbed toward the summit of the hill, it astonished us by sloping down again. After forty minutes of fruitless trudging, we decided to retrace our steps.

Trust me: you don’t want to hear the end of this story. Haven’t you read it a thousand times? You know: leader and rear guard emerge from the woods, nobody in sight, the person who was supposed to stay back and meet them, didn’t, everybody walks around foaming at the mouth for about forty minutes. This year’s Christmas tree outing in December taught me an important lessons there is no arrangement so simple that people cannot screw it up. It was the same way with my hike. But we all got back O.K., even the people in Lee Hatch’s truck. So there! If I have to tell the whole truth, at least I can doctor it a little.

Sharing this mixed-bag experience were Eugene Andersen (Nee Avram Farber), Lee Hatch, Judith Engle, Rose Hess, Karen Seidel, Nola Shurtleff, Robin Steussy, Merle Traudt, Ethel Weltman, and leader Karen Houglum.


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