[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[pct-l] Take the coastal route !!!!


(may require you to sign in)

Touching the fence separating the United States from Mexico, two foot-sore
but ecstatic hikers completed a 1,800-mile walk along the West Coast of the
United States yesterday.
Nate Olive, 28, of Atlanta and girlfriend Sara Janes, 23, of Slidell, La.,
finished the journey by sticking their legs through gaps in the rusted steel
pilings to touch Mexican soil.

In a congratulatory gesture, a man on the other side of the fence handed the
couple a fistful of Mexican sand.

"When we wake up tomorrow with no more miles to walk, I guess we'll have to
look for another trail," Olive said. "But I don't know of any place that
will match the West Coast. This has been a most beautiful and inspiring

The pair, who started out June 8 at Cape Flattery at the northwest tip of
Washington state, hope their odyssey will help promote the preservation and
expansion of coastal trails and public access to beaches.

They estimate they spent at least 40 percent of the hike along the water's
edge on sand or intertidal rocks. The rest of the time they were close
enough to see or smell the ocean.

Both said they now have a deeper appreciation of citizen-inspired laws such
as California's 1972 Coastal Act that guarantees public access to beaches
along the high-tide line.

"You'd be surprised what's available if you're willing to take a stroll away
from the roads," Olive said.

During the marathon trek, which took 2? months to complete, the pair said
they encountered unparalleled natural beauty and a random sequence of "trail
angels" who came to their aid in times of need.

One evening in a remote area of Big Sur, they were out of water and becoming
dehydrated when a stranger in a pickup suddenly appeared and gave them
watermelon and filled their canteens.

"Doing this gave me hope," said Olive, who intends to write a book about the
adventure. He's already settled on a title, "Dancing the Tidal Line,"
inspired by his observations of shorebirds in the sand.

The couple previously hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail together.

Olive and Janes, described by family members as "soul mates," have been
nearly inseparable and constantly on the move since meeting three years ago
while attending the University of Georgia.

Olive, who holds a master's degree in recreational ecology, has logged more
than 10,000 miles of long-distance hikes, having finished the 2,170-mile
Appalachian Trail and the 500-mile Colorado Trail.

"I have always seen him as an adventurer," said his mother, Bobbie Matthews
of Atlanta. "I can't really worry about him. I just think about him and send
him good thoughts every day."

During his tour of the West Coast, Olive said he was struck by the variety
of ways people live along the coast, from million-dollar mansions to rustic
yurts clinging to the sides of coastal slopes.

They were also amazed to find surfers at even the most remote beaches.

At a remote point near Cape Johnson, Wash., a group of congenial surfers who
braved frigid temperatures offered him his first surfboard ride. The waves
applied a pummeling, but he loved it.

Many interesting people - American Indians, crab fishermen and other
friendly strangers - offered them rides by boat across rivers, bays and

Once they had to swim across the numbing waters of the Sixes River in
Oregon, carrying their backpacks in plastic trash bags over their heads.

"It was so cold I couldn't draw a breath when I jumped in," Olive recalled.

There were also many close encounters with wildlife, including the time when
they walked within a few feet of a wild bull elk along a Northern California

Although Olive's hand-written travel journals were posted on the Web by his
mother, the hikers rarely saw any newspapers and didn't carry a cell phone
or laptop computer.

Quoting philosopher Henry David Thoreau, Olive said he found it liberating
"not being tied under the galling harness of civilization."

The most important source of information, he said, came from the moon, sun
and tides.

Janes said the arduous hike boosted her self-confidence and she conquered
her fear of climbing on sheer rocks.

"I overcame some mental barriers to physical challenges and found out I
could do more than I thought," she said.

For Olive, the trek was more of a mental catharsis, a journey that forced
him to "peel the onion" of his psyche.

"It was more than just finding myself," he said. "I feel fine-tuned and

The opportunity awaits others to follow in their footsteps, he said.

"Here at the edge of the continent, it's all out there for people to learn
about and make a connection with the forces of nature."