Newport coast explorations

November 15, 2013.

What makes a hike a hike?

I don’t know how far we walked, or how long we were out, or many of the details you might find in a hiking guide for this adventure. But we did some walking. It was outside. Isn’t that a hike?

Here are some definitions I found:

  • Merriam-Webster: “a long walk especially for pleasure or exercise”
  • Cambridge Dictionary: “the activity of going for long walks in the countryside
  • Wikipedia: “long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside”
  • Urban dictionary: “walking where it’s okay to pee”

Well, the last one was included just for fun. Or was it…

The consensus seems to be that a hike needs to be long. But what is long? That’s a pretty relative term. So is vigorous. Our journey today was neither, but I still considered it a hike. We were out in nature. Getting dirty. Negotiating a variety of terrain (sand, forest, rocks, etc). Getting “exercise” (ugh I hate that term.) While it may not suit the classic definition of a hike I feel it was hike-like. If you’re a stickler for categories and definitions, then you might not want to continue reading this.

We spent the afternoon hiking around the coastline in Newport, Oregon. Equipped with my technical Croc boots I was ready to explore anything and not get my feet wet.

The tide was low, so we wandered out onto the rocks to look for sea life in tidepools. We found sea stars, barnacles, limpets, sea anemones, mussels, all the usual stuff. The colors were supremely pretty, even in the filtered, overcast light.

We rambled from the edge of the water to the edge of the sea cliffs and back again. It was interesting to note the wide array of plant and animal types along this small stretch of shoreline. So much diversity and density in the stretch from ocean to land. It was incredible. We were just two more life forms among millions of others on the beach.

The landscape simply invited play. We balanced on logs, crawled over rocks, practiced our basic movement forms: squats, push-ups, lunges. There was no natural pull-up bar, so we skipped that pattern. The clouds were gray and moody but we found joy in every little thing.

There were so many layers of texture. The sharp and smooth edges of rock. The frothy foam on top of glass-like water. The bumps and prickles on the sea stars’ backs. The undulations of algae beneath the oscillating waves. The tree bark. The sea shells. Just so much to take in all at once! How could we move at a vigorous pace when there was so much to see?

I’m calling it a hike. We were out for hours. We must have covered a decent amount of ground. While we had no particular destination, no heart rate monitors, no summit to achieve, we enjoyed all the other benefits of hiking: nature-time, physical activity, visual stimulation and the excitement of being in a novel environment. Oh, and it was okay to pee.

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