Travel Essay & Photography by SHAUN MADER
An impromptu trip to Portland, Oregon is a blank slate for the impulsive and adventurous traveler. Throw in a supremely mischievous cohort and the possibilities are limitless. With mountain, surf and high sierra desert all within short reach, how to kill a week in Oregon became an exercise in throwing darts at a map.
A forecasted break in the rain made us head to the coast in search of some big sky, big hiking and even bigger trees. With some hastily prepared provisions and packs full of warm, water-proof gear, we were westward ho. Of course the journey is just as important as the destination, and with that in mind, a few roadside stops reaffirmed what we all have witnessed: the urban sensibility falls off pretty quickly when heading out of town.
But should you not feel safe in the the “woodsier” parts of the Pacific Northwest, fear not: a roadside attraction offers ample opportunity to stock up on ammunition and assault weapons. The store owners would have been more than happy to set us up and have us on our way loaded to the gills with a bunker’s worth of supplies. All it would take is an extra 3 dollars for an express background check to have us on our way, guns in hand, in “ten minutes or so.” When asked if they had ever been broken into, the woman replied, “twice,” then lamented, “but never during business hours.” After a little small talk with some of the local patrons (and after seeing their personal sidearms), we ventured off with a bag of chips and water, enough to distract a raccoon if we were ever to be in danger.
After some more twists and turns in the road, we reached the coast: Cannon Beach. We were told there were some yurts up in the woods where we could camp. Given the rain-soaked settings, this beat the prospect of tent camping. So up we went, huffing and puffing, trying to think of what we should have left behind. But alas, we arrived to find a vacant camp and a foggy playground of huge redwoods of our own to explore.
Though we had clear skies in the forecast, everything was soaked. The only dry spots to be found were inside the yurt. So we made our camp and got a little camp risotto (read: rice with too much water and random “fixings” thrown in for good measure).
The next day greeted us with some enticing holes in the clouds. Our goal was to hike up to the town of Seaside. We figured it might take us 3 hours on the trail to reach our destination, but due to bad planning, we neglected to allot adequate time for our return. After 4 miles of breathtaking scenery, we realized that if we did not scrap our plan and double-step it back to camp, we might find ourselves stuck in the woods. With fog rolling in from over the ocean cliff nearby, it would only take a little fog to leave us lost, wet and cold.
So we hightailed it back, racing the setting sun. We were lamenting not making it to Seaside where we had plans of getting a bottle of wine and coffee, but as some of the photos show, we caught some rare conditions on our hike back.
Shaun Mader is a New York based photographer. He feels as happy in the studio as he does taking his time in the back alleys of Calcutta waiting for the right moment. His interdisciplinary background in theater, film, music and photography all feed his unending quest for exploration and expression.
Written by Shaun Mader
Photography by Shaun Mader
Design by Marie Havens
Oregon, January 2011, Photography by Shaun Mader