Hiking . . . A Cultural Adventure

May 28, 1999

William Sullivan’s high regard as author and lecturer was in evidence by the very full house of Obsidians (about 90) attending the potluck. The subtitle to Bill’s new book (the subject of the evening’s talk) is “The stories behind historic places you can walk to”. The “history” encompassed that of natural (geological) phenomena and human events (both real and legendary). We were treated to a captivating lecture, the result of the cogent presentation, excellent photography and Bill’s ever-present sense of humor.

The text follows a chronological order and starts with a hike in Fort Rock State Park in Eastern Oregon, where the geologic evidence left by Ice Age lakes can be viewed and where 9000-year-old sandals (woven from sagebrush bark) have been found.

Bill has ferreted out obscure history and legend as well as hiking trails. Fascinating Indian spiritual legends evolved about the formation of Crater Lake and of a Land bridge that once damned the Columbia Gorge near Cascade Locks.

Many of the hikes that touch upon the turn of the century revolve around miscellaneous governmental fiascos (surprise!) — e.g., the inapt lighthouses at Newport and Tillamook Head, the jetty at Tillamook Bay, and the fire lookout on Mt. Hood. World War II provides an interesting walk and history of the Wheeler Ridge bomb site.

Bill closed his talk (and the book) with a spirited appraisal of wilderness areas, focusing on the Opal Creek area as a prime example. His message concurs with that of John Muir (“Alaska Fragment”, 1890): “In God’s wilderness lies the hope of the world — the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness”. The book, entitled “Hiking Oregon’s History”, will obviously appeal to hiker and history buff alike.

Bep Fontana

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