The Big Hike: Introduction

Billy here. After getting limber on the surf mission we spent all day in Shannon’s kitchen dehydrating veggies and packing for our exodus tomorrow. A few of you asked for pictures of everything we are taking, so we posted up our backpacking gear lists in a new page at the bottom of the blog and took pictures of our gear all laid out, as well as the first seventeen days worth of food. Since a backpacker uses about 4,000 calories a day, we had to plan for a (figurative) ton of food. We got some figures from other backpackers online: a general 2 pounds of food per person per day. So what you see (minus the 7 heads of broccoli and 2 bulbs of garlic in the dehyrator) is about 64 pounds of food. This will plump up when we cook them and add water. We got almost everything in bulk, including nuts and dried fruit to mix up our own trail mix. We have 10 pounds of trail mix, almost 5 pounds of granola, almost 6 pounds of grains, almost 9 pounds worth of bars among other things such as sprouting seeds, nuts, peas, powdered cheese and milk.

My total base weight for my backpack is 18 pounds. A bit on the heavier side for my taste, but I am carrying a backpacking guitar and a solar panel so we can charge the iphone to make this blog! After food and water, my aim is to be carrying less than 34 pounds, which is 25% of my body weight. Probably will be making last minute adjustments and will know more by the time we finish the Oregon section of our hike: from Eagle Creek to Crater Lake.

I want to thank Matthew and Chelsea for donating the iphone so we can take pictures and make this blog happen, Lyndi, Emily and Julian for rides and delivering packages, Mary Frances for being, Jane and Maren for letting us borrow their surf board so both Spence and I can surf together at the same time, Stephen for sharing roguish knowledge, inspiration and laughter, Shannon for letting us use her dehydrator and kitchen and being awesome, all the folks at the Daily and the F & B for their support and love, and all the other folks who have been encouraging along the way, especially Emily, whose generosity and openness is mad ridiculous.

spence here:   FOOD! is mostly what i think about when hiking.  (bars bars bars! we love them!) i also tend to think about my people, past and present. i think about my career, or lack of one, and what i want to be when i grow up. i think about my family and how they would love to see what i am seeing and how can i show them and tell them! how can i let them know i wouldn’t be the person i am today without the adventures we have shared together growing up.  also i think about bears. and beer. i also marvel at how old timers could have possibly traveled by foot or hoof and wagon all the time, moving west to the great unknown, mostly without a trail and definitely without conveniently packaged food.  i hope to feel more connected to the world, and that my small existence is as important as all creatures existence, big or small.

anyway, today was all about the food and the gear.  i managed to cut some weight off my pack, so my base is about 16 pounds without food or water.  i had to let some things go… like an extra pair of shoes, 2 books, the candle lantern, my thermos, my green “beach bobcat” hoodie and extra shorts. perhaps these things will be missed, but perhaps not after climbing uphill all day on my 14th mile. perhaps i will have wished i didn’t drag along the bana-grams, but i can’t imagine it–the game is pretty much  my favorite way to celebrate down time.

thank you to so many of you who have helped this summer come to fruition. after years of listening to me and my wondering what it could be like, i’m actually going to hike now.  next post will be from the trail!

A Couple O Grommets

grommet [ˈgrɒmɪt], grummet 4. (Individual Sports & Recreations / Swimming, Water Sports & Surfing) Austral informal a young or inexperienced surfer (from the Free

Billy here:  We just got back from our last foray to the coast, surfing, hiking and sight-seeing some beautiful beaches. The weather forecast of rain didn’t bother us, neither did the lackluster surf data showing small waves right on top of each other. We just went out there and learned a lot about each beach, our boards, our own attitudes about our abilities and relationship with the water. As says:

All of the info available to us these days is great, but obsessing over the data is going to make you crazy and cost you a lot of great surf sessions. And it is important to keep in mind that most of Oregon’s surf spots are beach breaks, not reefs, and are therefore very fickle even under otherwise predicable conditions. Basic rule of thumb, just go!

Our friends Jane and Maren, along with their baby Pomeranian Salty, joined us for a couple of days to surf. We have been coming up with names for our surf gang (which my sis Shannon is an honorary member) ranging from “Meat on the Bone” to “Escuela Vieja”, but Maren’s suggestion, Platypi, just might stick. The platypus is a weird anomaly of a water creature. Seems like a good fit.

We surfed all along the coast from Cannon Beach to Otter Rock, soaking up sun and rain alike and discovering hidden gems (such as Hebo Lake) and shady detours (such as the good ol’ boy Sand Lake overrun with 4x4s, “Those sands dunes aren’t going to destroy themselves!” our friend Maren quipped). My favorite place by far was Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock. It is a sandstone formation at the tip of an ocean headland at Otter Rock, which was carved out by the sea. Underneath one side is open to a tide pool designated as a marine garden, where you can walk inside the sandstone “bowl” and watch the waves crash through an arch into the ocean. At high tide, the bowl fills with water and submerges the tide pools. There is something otherworldly and dreamlike about the place, like slot canyons in Utah. All in all, we have had a fantastic time surfing and getting in shape hiking sand dunes and up and down capes.

Now we are getting ready to hit the trail tomorrow!

spence here: its hard to remember all the things we have packed into the last few days.  i have been living so presently, lately, that memories and the future seem to feel like the same thing.  did i dream we went surfing and saw seals and cormorants? we definetly did that. did i almost lose my cool during a sandy, rainy, tarp gone wild situation?  yup. did i finally stand up on my surfboard and feel the rip tide pull me into a sink hole? yup. have i walked 15 miles and seen the mountains open up before me at 6,000 ft up?  not yet! maybe this week!

one of the highlights of our second surf mission for me was the beach called otter rock. the surfers/people seemed really laid back, and even though it got crowded on a sunny sunday afternoon, it still felt like an expansive beach, with room for everyone to flop around. there were a lot of people that really knew what they were doing out there surfing, which was inspiring to watch.  but none of those people scoffed at the beginners and i had one guy tell me he was glad i was there.

another highlight was our epic “walk” around the bay ocean spit. i love this place.  if you are ever taking the three scenic capes loop drive along the coast between cape meares, cape lookout and cape kiwanda, you might not want to miss this little town and gigantic spit.  it is just south of the town of garibaldi.  it ended up being a much larger spit than we anticipated, thus our “walk” was a bit longer as well, turned out to be 12 miles. but i’ve always wanted to see more of it, since i haven’t been there for a few years, when i took my birding class. awesome. flowers, birds, large-leafed prehistoric looking dripping stalky plants, hidden trails, rocky beach, strange overgrown old campgrounds.

yet another highlight was our time with jane and maren. playing cribbage in their sweet euro-van with a sliding glass window was a good time. cape lookout beach and our beach combing discoveries,  pacific city and the pelican brew pub.  i ate some fish and chips. i’m very thankful that they lended us their extra surf board as well.  it enabled billy and i to go out on the water together, and i must say, i’m a fan of the zebra-striped “pig-board” (a name i’ve given to it from the movie “point break”).  i caught a lot of waves on that thing.  finally getting the hang of it.

lastly, before going on our hiking segment of the summer, i am feeling extraordinarily appreciative. surfing and exploring really helped me clear my mind and enjoy more of what comes to me. going out into the water and feeling the power of the waves, appreciating the sun and sea smells. i also wanted to say a great thanks for all the wonderful support and enthusiasm we’ve received from all our friends and family. i think that has been my favorite part of all this. happy solstice! and here we go with the photos…

Adventure Itinerary for July

welcome back to our blog! here is our plan for the month of july. many of you have been asking, “where will you be?” “can i follow along?” “can i send you something?”  well, you can’t really send us anything. but you can follow along! here is the link to the website that has helped us plan our pacific crest trail adventure:  there is a menu where you can pick the pacific crest trail and various options of what you would like to look at on your map. what? awesome.

  • present day until june 27th, surf mission, pacific city and otter rock
  • june 27. eagle creek to zigzag. 57 miles. HIKE! included is an optional loop around ramona falls and a detour down to zigzag on horseshoe ridge. (taking this detour will guide us around the snow zone of mt. hood, the paradise park trail and timberline lodge, which currently is still in a blizzard)
  • july 1. zigzag shuttle (we are getting a ride–and our resupply box from a wonderfully generous friend–to wapinitia pass to avoid snow). from wapinitia pass to olallie lake resort. 44 miles
  • july 5. olallie lake to trail #3375 in jefferson park. trail to breitenbush hot springs. 23 miles. (this section may also have too much snow around jefferson park. we may take a different trail to breitenbush hot springs)(resupply box sent and held for us at breitenbush)(at this section we may also be thwarted by the snow. we may need to reassess and skip some more trail. however, we will still end up getting to breitenbush for a well deserved hot tub soak, via some side trails.)
  • july 7. breitenbush to big lake. 48 miles. (resupply at big lake youth camp. they hold sent pct thru-hiker packages for free! free showers!)
  • july 11. big lake to elk lake. 44 miles. resupply at fun little resort grocery.  (“excuse me. i’m sorry.but are these snickers bars organic or vegan?  how about gluten free? never mind, i’ll take the doritos”)
  • july 15. elk lake to shelter cove (odell lake). 46 miles. resupply at grocery
  • july 19. shelter cove to diamond lake. 52 miles. we’re taking an optional trail west of the pct to go to diamond lake for some serious swimming, camping, grocery store fun! we could rent a golf cart if we wanted also. (resupply at diamond lake resort)
  • july 23. diamond lake to crater lake. 22 miles.

our july hiking segment will end at crater lake.  we are hoping to be picked up july 25th or we can take the train back to portland.  we are headed to seattle there after to our dear friend’s wedding celebration. the plan is to resume hiking august 1st near lake tahoe. more details about the august plan to come. this schedule will offer a modest beginning with a chance to whip us into shape for the high sierras in august on the john muir trail. thanks for reading!

stay off pigs

spence here… i am so lucky. i keep pinching myself at how lucky i am.  i turned 37 over the weekend with a glorious sun, some sand cranes, ravens and a handful of friends. turns out billy and i were around to have a camp-out for my birthday, which took place at little crater lake (near timothy lake and mt. hood).  originally, we were to be hiking the pct through that section of forest, which is why i had picked that date and place before.  i was pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to have the party though, as i thought we would be somewhere else.  as plans evolve, they are unfolding for the best i would say, like the fire that is not forced, but tended. we spent a few days in camp, eating good food, laughing and hiking around on the pct and timothy lake trail. we sat on a log in the water like turtles and soaked up the rays. it really got my itch back to get on with the plans of hiking sooner than later. we met an older kooky guy who was hiking the pct.  he told us bear stories, ufo stories, finding sasquatch and how people treat you like trash if you have on a large backpack–like a homeless person. it made me all the more interested to get going on down the trail.

we finished out the surfing week before my birthday at oswald west state park on thursday.  by the time we got down to the beach, it was sunny and 70. beautiful!  it was low tide however, when we arrived and the waves were crunchy.  i went out the first session and a big wall of wave would form before me, too tall to jump over, to fast to dive through or catch and in a whirlwind would be over.  lesson learned–surf closer to a high tide. i hadn’t felt afraid before, but somehow those waves intimidated me. perhaps it was the 3 times i got dragged under and flopped around on the sandy floor! billy was a champ.  looking like a pro, paddling out past the breakers like he was in a surf documentary. the second session was a little better, but again, i came in early, frustrated and wiped.  we rested a bit and i took comfort in the fact that even being thrashed around by waves was good for me.  we decided to go out once more and the waves were great! i got up on the board for a bit on my knees, as i haven’t yet been able to stand all the way up because of my weak left leg (from my knee injury awhile ago). we swam out pass the breakers and practiced sitting up on our boards, waiting for the big ones. we came back to my friend emily’s place and the reunion felt great, even though we have only been gone for a week or so.

p.s. the “stay off pigs” comes from a sign that was posted at cannon beach.  it probably used to say something like stay off grass, or stay off please, or something like that.  but after being woke up in the middle of the night by the police, it seemed like a good sign and good advice.

Billy here. Bouncing around the coast and camping in the van was worth the amazing surfing, but getting out to the mountains and camping near an alpine meadow was just what we needed. The space, stars and fresh pine smell really makes me homesick for the cabin I will come home to someday. The campground has rejuvenated our thirst for the hike, which was dashed a little while we were trying to find places to car camp on the coast. I think we both forgot how exhausting it can be to try and find a place to sleep when you don’t want to pay for it! But once I smelled the pine sap and felt the space under the forest canopy, I remembered that the hardships of the trail are worth the distance from civilization.

We camped at Little Crater Lake, which a very small but deep pool. It was formed on a fault that slipped and opened up a spring almost to the bedrock. Someone could scuba dive into it and discover all sorts of treasures among the trees that have fallen into the depths of it. At its edge are  yellowish sand and pebbles for a foot or two before it drops forty five feet or so into darkness, fading from green to deep blue. When the sun hits it at certain angles you can see trees that have fallen into it at all angles. I imagine that it holds secret underwater caverns further beyond that humans have not found yet. It’s a small but incredible little lake and we were lucky to hear and briefly see a mating pair of sandhill cranes that are starting a family there. They have an enormous haunting call that sounds like a percussive bamboo flute the size of a valley. When they came flying through and singing at dusk, every last child and dog in the campground came running to the meadow to see them, as if they were about to see a pegasus.

We hiked around Lake Timothy a bit, during which we had to hike a tiny section of the PCT to get there from the campground. Being on the PCT for a minute inspired us to shape up our hiking schedule. We checked snow levels online and the open status of various resupply points and determined that our leave date for the trail will be next week, after another surf mission to Pacific City this week. The snow levels look good for hiking, barring Mt. Hood, which still has a lot of snow on it. So we decided that in order to leave next week we may have to hike around Mt. Hood and skip the Paradise Park section if it’s still impassable next week. So one more foray to the waves and then we hit the mountain trail! Happy summer solstice and Juneteenth y’all!

A Couple ‘O Huckleberries Theme Song!

Caught in a knot on the highway

never could stay in a one place

making a nest in the shadows of the rest

my only real home is the home out of doors

the way i know best is to play without force


a couple o huckleberries shy of a pail

but a couple of huckleberries ’nuff for the trail

just a dandelion seed in the wind

nothing to settle or mend

some say that weeds are incapable of deeds

but the wild and woody ones have a medicine to share

we may not thrive in fenced in yards

but we still have fruit to bear


calendar and clocks by the wayside

by the sun and the moon we abide

we are alive when the sylvan folk arrive

people large and small from the moth to the trees

those of the mountains, the sea and the breeze


Smuggler’s Cove and a Den of Newts

Spence here. Where to begin?  We have made the most of the last couple days.  It has been a bit rainy and cloudy, which we anticipated. Luckily, we had bought a cool little detailed map of the northwest Oregon coast the last time we were in cannon beach.  Our aim was to find more dispersed (free) camping spots in the area, like the ones our friends had shown to us. we decided to check out the area around Nehalem falls state park.  There was a dispersed camping sign on the way out there which looked promising. unfortunately, as we are discovering, the state forests are trying to merge recreation with logging and the two do not go together very well. We found some places we could have probably camped, but with active logging and sketchy one lane roads, didn’t find it very peaceful.  Nehalem falls however, and the Nehalem river, were very beautiful.  It reminded both of us of something we would find in Oklahoma. The campground was well kept, pretty cheap and had a  great path around it. We spent a long time exploring that area and taking pictures of newts mating. I saw a very exotic looking frog. The air and the rocks were warmer there.

Speaking of newts, there has been some more wildlife sightings recently. At hug point we left the back hatch of the van open while we fell asleep. we woke in the middle of the night to some serious rustling. A raccoon had taken advantage of our idiocy and was going through the trash we left on the bumper.  He had stolen it not 3 inches from out feet.  Ugh! Billy sprung into action with aid of the headlamp and scared off the raccoon and cleaned up the trash.  While he was cleaning it up, I was trying to keep the raccoon at bay by knocking the headlamp against the van… dumb! the light went out and I had to figure out how to turn it on again. Meanwhile, billy is in the dark with a lurking raccoon and a bag of tasty trash.  Sorry! Perhaps my reasoning skills lack precision in the middle of the night.

Another nice “walk”, we found on the map, thanks to navigator alligator billy ray, soap stone lake. It was a slightly lonely, beautiful trail, one more attempt to merge logging efforts and recreation, it was thread through clear cut. There were many draining tributaries however, that saved several sections of trees and made it all the more interesting–which trees to cut, which to shoot for fun, which to leave alone.  The sign at the trailhead said “more difficult” but billy ray’s trail rating was more colorful, “if this trail was any easier it would be a conveyor belt.”  It even had steps. We arrived atop a flat camp spot overlooking a small alpine-like lake. The trail wound around the lake and back up the bank. Some amazing board walks had been built over the bogs and more salamanders were entertaining. We came upon a small beach on the lake, clearly where some folks had been having a campfire and beers, but had poorly attempted to cover up the fact.  It seemed more like “loggers leave no trace” than anything. I struggle to accept this thing of man to conquer everything and make ourselves at home, often to the detriment of the place and beings. This mentality and the people who perpetuate it bewilder and exhaust me.

Billy Ray here. After a serious sun and surf hangover (and being interrupted by the city watch), we vagabonds took some days off in the misty cool days to hike and make some music. We broke down and got our first six pack of Rainier of the trip. I laughed to myself, recalling the Mae West and W.C. Fields lament, what is the line? Something like, “Ten days and all we had was food and water!” It was at this point that we tested out new properly sized tarp. You may recall the tarp the size of a handkerchief. Now look at the Texas-Sized Tarp. Aww, hell, yeah, now that’s a tarp!

Our first stop was Smuggler’s Cove in Oswald West. At the end of the cove Blumenthal Falls empties into a lovely tide pool before washing into the ocean. We poked around the tide pools and admired the trees, the beach art, the fort remnants and the layers of rocks bent and morphed like cake batter in an egg beater.

Nehalem Falls State Park was a gem in the rough. A little out of the way but not too far, it lies along the warm Nehalem River. The day being misty and not too cold, we felt like we were stepping into the Jurassic period. Everything dripped, strange birds and frogs sounded through the foliage and the dark basalt below us radiated warmth. Little carved out pools of stone lay by the river, which formed a fascinating breeding ground for newts. Spence spied a tiny neon green frog. We took the hiking trail and never found the falls of the park’s namesake, but the trail was beautiful, strewn with cypress, maple, newts, snails, birds and ferns. The river is a deep jade green and seems warm enough to swim in, unlike the frigid Clackamas River. I love the thrum and beat of a flock of birds as it scatters through the air. I love the cup of the plantain – like a lotus flower – a healing multitude that grows in the most disturbed areas. A weed that nourishes.

We have seen many animals in the last few days: a bald eagle, rabbits, newts, cedar waxwings, starfish, sea anemone, crab, ravens, frogs, one raccoon, elk, deer and one “whale” that turned out to be a rock (?).

We also explored out little Nehalem camping area off of North Fork Road a bit, past the old hitching posts over the hill. To the south are farmlands and creeks, cow pasture and the hum of trucks and tractors. To the north is a forested hilltop beyond which we have heard little. This is where we decided to take the trail. Spence acutely observed it was maintained for off-road biking, due to the zealous weed whipping, the banks and jump ramps of earth built in, a detail I would have missed due to my lack of experience. Dirt and mountain biking always seemed like fun to me, like 4X4 mudding, but actually doing those things for sport I have never pursued because they have such an impact on the soil and flora. This is one of the many reasons why surfing appeals to me: it is one of the few outdoor-adventure sports that negligible impact on the environment, even less than backpacking really. At any rate, the trail tipped over the hill and instantly the microclimate on the north side turned shadowy, cool and moist under the tall evergreens. The ash trees, buttercups and brambles turned to ferns, moss and stump ecosystems. We saw enormous bear prints that we joked were actually Sasquatch. We passed signs nailed to the trees marked “TIMBER SALE BOUNDARY” and the roar of chainsaws and firing of guns could be heard ringing through the valley. Interesting that on the south side of the hill, where our camp spot is, you cannot hear them at all. How many secrets the forest keeps in its massive protective canopy! And how absolutely destroyed we would be if we were to cut it all down. Once out of the city, time expands and I feel that the primordial progenitor of all beings is water and the trees. Without them, we ourselves cannot live. How many civilizations will it take for us to learn the lesson of humility and moderation – that you cannot take too much from the earth without consequence? As Thomas Berry says in The Dream of the Earth, “Any particular activity must find its place within the larger pattern, or it will die and perhaps bring down the larger life system itself…For humans to assume rights to occupy land by excluding other life forms from their needed habitat is to offend the community in its deepest structure. Further, it is even to declare a state of warfare, which humans cannot win since they themselves are ultimately dependent on those very life forms that they are destroying.”

At the Manzanita News and Espresso (where we are writing this blog) is a book called Earth Under Fire by a local named Gary Braasch. In it is an interesting braided diagram tracing sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Not surprisingly, the single highest contributor after electricity and heat is deforestation.

Life’s A Beach

Billy here. We have finally gotten our feet wet and broken in the “new” used surfboard. We spent all of Saturday relaxing at our secret camp spot overlooking the ocean and breaking out the tunes. Cranked up the phonograph and listened to Hank croon. Practiced our theme song “Couple O’ Huckleberries” on the ukulele and backpacking guitar. Once we have it down we will post it here. Cooked up some tasty grubbles and gourmet snacks, including the spiced avocado cracker pictured here. Made our ultra hippie “mac ‘n’ cheese”: sprouted and boiled quinoa, buckwheat and millet, boiled with kale and mixed in with tahini, braggs and valentina hot sauce.  Then yesterday morning we headed out toward Cannon Beach to bust out the surfboards, stopping for coffee at the Sleepy Monk. Spence outdid himself in cutting edge fashion and apparently the ladies loved it. At Indian Beach a gaggle of girls, while being buttered up by a young surfer stud, stopped him and told him he had a nice wetsuit then erupted into giggles.

I didn’t feel the usual trepidation of cold getting into the water. I was surprised to find that I didn’t feel cold at all getting in and the sun was out warming my back (and burning my face despite layers of sunscreen). After mouthfuls of salt, rocking and thrashing of wave after wave, my body began to finally unwind itself. It seems almost too obvious to say that once I began to stop fighting the waves, once I began to play and loosen, I began to start catching them and finding balance again. The water is such a gentle and at the same time unrelenting force. Just as the ocean has pounded the rocks to sand over the centuries, animals have been humbled since the age of the dinosaurs into smaller, more adjustable beings. It’s the lesson of the surf, each and every time, to let go all the catches, in the muscles, in the mind.

spence here. “well, good morning officer.  a fine dawn, wouldn’t you say?”  our plan to crash in the van in cannon beach, proper, was thwarted early this morning, as a wonderful example of “the law” tapped on our van window.  he kindly reminded us that sleeping in the van in the middle town was against the law, but let us sleep in a little longer before we had to move on.  he was so nice i felt bad inconveniencing him.  we thought we would stay last night and watch the sunset, and by that time, didn’t really feel like driving all the way out to our usual camp spot.  oh well. now that we have a “marked vehicle”, we shouldn’t have to worry bout thieves, since the cops will be watching our van for us.

anyway, it turns out we had a wonderful morning. being up so early, we were able to see the sun rise and watch the birds.  i forgot how much i love the red-winged blackbird call, and the sound of frogs at dawn. we took a long walk on the beach and made some coffee, since nothing was open.  this afternoon, we are to take to the water again.  my wet suit, (which i’m pretty sure is an old diving scuba suit), made a big splash at the beach yesterday. i didn’t care.  it was warm and i had a lot of fun.  i can’t quite stand up on the surf board because of my knee–not quite stable enough–but some more thrashing about and i should get stronger in the coming weeks.  i surfed just as badly as all the other folks who had hot black professional looking suits, which is why i love surfing in oregon. we met some nice surfer peeps and of course i thoroughly enjoyed the people watching.

last night, we were on the beach waiting for the sun to set. i tried to revive a fire that some other people had abandoned that was still smoldering. i piled it up and blew on it and added some kindling but it just smoked in my face.  after i gave up and went back to my writing,  it sparked up on its own! after a bit of tendering, it was a wonderful little fire. such is the lesson of this week, and onward in life.  as soon as i let go and stop being so forceful with things, stop fussing and worrying, the sooner i will get my reward and lessons learned.  p.s. check out the marzo van page!  new photos!

Point Break

spence here. currently, we are stationed at a neat little coffee shop in manzanita. 55 degrees, but warming, overcast, but the sun is breaking through, and we have had a lot of coffee. surf mission is looking up.
we arrived yesterday afternoon to our secret free camping spot outside nehalem bay. we have spent the last few days organizing the stuff for our first leg of the surf mission. we also spent some time packing up our belongings at my friend emily’s house. it was so amazingly wonderful of her to offer us the “old spence cave” in her house. We crashed there for a couple months while we worked our asses off to save up money for the summer. Her generosity is beyond normal human levels. Anyway, I can’t say I was sad to leave Portland, but i was happy to leave loving it still. We’ll be back around here and there so I don’t feel like it is goodbye forever, especially with all my wonderful friends living there.
When we set up camp at the secret spot, I started proudly pulling out the tarp I bought at next adventure. As I started to pull it up over the back of the van, to set up our camp kitchen, billy took one look and said “that thing is the size of a hankerchief…” I guess it looked a lot bigger in the middle of a crowded store. We cooked under it anyway and had a nice bro-bowl for dinner (mac n cheese with broccoli, chips and beer cooked it). We decided to leave the surf boards in the van for some reason and cram all in when the rain started coming down. We hoisted the surfboards inside the van to create a loft of sorts. Somehow, we didn’t mind a bit snuggling together for our 10 hour sleep. We needed it. Today we picked up a bigger tarp, to double our living quarters. The car top carrier is now totally full, how did that happen? I love the marzo. (soon to come, a video tour of the van, when the rain stops!).

Billy here. We have officially broken loose of the city and are living out of doors and in the van. Our last stop in Portland was to drop off a new drawing at Silver Moth. Thank you, Mary Frances, Queen of Rogues and Fairy Doom Mother to us all.

We listened to surf punk rock on the drive out to the coast, passing as usual the little town of Cooterville, which always reminds me of a slang term for an unsavory person. (“I would stay away from him, he’s cooterville.”) At the top of the forest road past Nehalem is a camp spot where you can stay for 21 consecutive days without fees. We set up our little handkerchief kitchen off the back of the van hatch and spent our first day in a clearing between old hitching posts. The fog, ghost of the ocean and portal to the sky, poured in over the dark hillside. Spruces and pines rose up in shadowy cathedral spires on the ridges. Rain and birds nicked up the silence in tiny seeds of sound, small and hard as mustard and poppy seeds. The persistent sound of a northern flicker rattles through the woods. There is a large brush of dead pine that stands out in the green mist: the needles a chocolate rust and the branches black as coffee. The rain kept us snugged up in the van most of the day and keeping ourselves busy doing ridiculous things. For example, everyone has an arbitrary large number they tend to use as an example of an enormous amount beyond imagination. My number is usually 17 billion. “There are 17 billion human babies eating up all the resources.” 17 billion years is more than the age of the universe. Unimaginable. Spence is fond of the number 50 million. So I decided to figure how many years it would take for a person to count to 50 million if they counted one number per second for every waking hour of the day (16 hours). Turns out it would take two and a half years to count that high. So then we decided his large number could also be expressed in years. “These cars have been backed up for 2.5 years!”

We walked the Manzanita beach and found our first evidence of tsunami wreckage from Japan. Someone’s been eating marshmallow crème pies and drinking bottled iced tea! Ha! Also, a lovely little coffee shop in Manzanita had a poster on building global community in the restroom which I liked, so I’m posting it here.

The weather is supposed to break tomorrow and we will hopefully get to test our new surf boards in the waves. Tonight we will head to another secret camp spot right on a cliff overlooking the coast.



pre-pre-funk hike at opal creek wilderness: may 2012

spence here.  you have to go forward to go back. you may be able to tell when it is i, blogging, as i tend to not use capital letters.  i’m not sure when i started this pheen-non, (phenomenon) but it suits me.  i have never been very formal, although i do have manners, which is a different thing. anyway, i wanted to post some pictures from our original shakedown hike through the opal creek wilderness (located a bit east of salem, oregon). we hiked in this wondrous area in the beginning of may and while the weather was mostly sunny, it was cold at night.  down to 35 degrees. the land surrounding and encompassing opal creek and jaw bone flats was gifted in the 90s to the friends of opal creek, a non-profit group who wanted to look after the precious area, after miners had been invading it since the early 1900s. (the first miners had arrived in 1859 looking for gold, but didn’t find much). the group then transformed to become the opal creek ancient forest center.  (see awesome website for more info… the town of jawbone flats, population 9, has been in operation for the last  few years as a retreat and educational center. you can rent cabins there, as well as eat in their organic, vegetarian dining hall, albeit for a price.  but the cost helps to keep the place going, and seems reasonable given their remote location. (a 3-mile hike in from a dirt road). the whole operation is off-the-grid, with solar panels and hydro-electricity.  the only “conveniences” i could see were their phone line and a web cam/internet access.

our hike took us through the jawbone flats area and around the now-closed mines.  side-stepping the old mining debris the company just left there when it decided to close down in 1992 (look up shiny rock mining company). it appears there may have been some concern that the mining was fouling up the soils and watershed of the area, and perhaps as a way to skirt financial clean-up responsibility they “gifted” the land.  this is just what i gathered from the various snooping i did online about the shiny rock mining company. it is a very curious story.  we ended up taking a lot of the trails around the jawbone flats area because as we hiked further and climbed higher, we ran into several feet of snow at elevation 3700 ft.we struggled up through the snow for awhile, but couldn’t even make it the 4 miles to elk lake. in frustration we turned around.  thus planting the seed that would become our surf mission for the month of june.  why fight nature? …as i continue to learn, over and over. besides, we found other adventures that were snow free.  we had great river side camping near the confluence of the n. santiam river and opal creek, and i survived of my first wildlife attack… the ruffed grouse of the mossy knoll. anyway, here are a few photos. enjoy!

The Clackamas River Trail

Billy Ray here. Week One, Last Week of Milk Moon: After many festive libations over many days, we slept for what seemed like eight hours, a welcome embrace of restfulness after much overtime at our jobs to fund this adventure of a 2012-time.  Being still a bit tipsy from too many fumes from the F-16s flying overhead at our Memorial BBQ, we decided to take another practice hike and hiatus for a few days on the Clackamas River.

We wrote a theme song on the new backpacking guitar, Spence made some trash art, I banged on a makeshift wooden xylophone from collected driftwood, I drew some pictures and Spence wrote.

Spence here. Let it snow let it snow let it snow… not really. The PCT still has an abundance of snow in our area, so instead of slipping and sliding our way south, we thought it would be a great idea to surf for a few weeks instead. Let the snow melt, the rivers go down and “chill out” and our minds get limber for the trail.

Today is a momentous step forward in our new “Point Break” lifestyle. We acquired a galopy of a surfboard, a sweet reversible wet-suit for me, a car top carrier, and an old 78 hand-crank phonograph (so we can listen to hank williams on the beach, duh!).

Hopefully, this summer, the Marzo (our surf van, named after my favorite surfer Clay Marzo, watch his documentary, “Just Add Water”) will deliver us up right and we can live on the outskirts of Cannon Beach in stealth style. Photo shoot and tour of the van to come…Thanks for reading! Here’s a lil’ gallery of our recent pre-funk hike on the Clackamas River Trail.