Earlier this year, Kevin Mittge, the Adult Services Librarian at the Siuslaw Public Library in Florence, Oregon contacted us about doing a library program on our visits to all of Oregon’s wilderness areas. We were already planning some hikes on the Oregon Coast, so we said we’d love to do a talk. We agreed on a date in May and the coastal weather cooperated by not raining on our hikes or on our talk. We dedicated the talk to Judge John B. Waldo, the first Oregon Supreme Court chief justice born in the state and a vigorous proponent of forest conservation in the Cascade Range. But then, between the invitation and the talk, Congress designated another wilderness area in Oregon: Devil’s Staircase. We managed a drive-by of this truly wild wilderness in 2020. 🙂
Wilderness exists just to be wild, irrespective of human needs or wants. So the primary “human” purpose for these wilderness areas is to protect a watershed or a threatened and endangered species or a terrestrial habitat or a fish habitat or all of the above. They were NOT created simply for our hiking pleasure. This is particularly true of the smaller, less visited areas, many of which have few or no trails and in which cross-country travel opportunities vary from good to heroically (verging on impossibly) difficult. So in our talk, we listed all the wilderness areas but focused on some (but not all) with reasonable hiking possibilities. We also included three proposed wilderness areas because we’ve hiked in them and believe they deserve formal designation too!