Monday, August 8, 2005

Rooster Rock Gets a Walkable Trail & We Visit Sauvies

Before and after pictures of trail
restoration; on the left, Buffaloe and Otter Trails a marshy bog of muck, and on the right, the much appreciated and used, rebuilt Dragonfly Trail that we restored.

On August 6th, 2005 the American Association for Nude Recreation-Northwest Chapter (AANR-NW) sponsored a get-together by northwest nudists and non-nudists alike to perform a clean-up party at Rooster Rock State Park. Rooster Rock is one of two officially-sanctioned clothing-optional beaches in the State of Oregon . . . the other being Collins Beach on Sauvie Island (which we visited the following day). Both Collins (better known as Sauvies) and the clothing-optional area of Rooster Rock are essentially the result of the actions of the Oregon Clothing Optional Beach Alliance (ORCOBA) and The Naturist Society (TNS) without whom we may not have these excellent beaches today. We owe a great deal of gratitude and recognition to ORCOBA and TNS for their continued support and promotion of Collins and Rooster Rock as venues for nudists and naturists. Many new members get their first taste of nudism at these two beaches.

AANR has also promoted clothing-optional use at these two areas. AANR-NW is actively involved in these volunteer activities and thanks to efforts by local nudist resorts and travel clubs like The Willmetans, Restful Haven and SLUGS, well-rounded volunteer groups manage to turn out for events like this. ORCOBA is the local group and deserving of recognition for it's stewardship of both Rooster Rock and Sauvies. So I doff my floppy-blue hat to Oregon Clothing Optional Beach Alliance, The American Association for Nude Recreation-Northwest Chapter and The Naturist Society. Rooster Rock and Sauvies Island are a result of their efforts.

Saturday morning we met in the parking lot, signed-in and started to get to know each other. Then we got our obligatory safety briefing, work gloves and got introduced to a large truck full of shovels and CONTRACTOR-GRADE WHEELBARROWS? This was supposed to be a litter patrol! Little did we know what devilish plot the rangers at Rooster Rock had hatched in their sneaky little minds. Just a little bit of trail fixing, we were confidently told as we headed on down to the clothing optional area.

Then we saw what they had in mind. Every year over the winter and spring months the Columbia River flows high and most of the clothing-optional area is beneath several feet of water and sediment from the river. As the summer months approach the river settles down and the waters recede to reveal the trails and beach that we love so much. A consequence of this yearly cycle is that the trails to the beach are often destroyed and become impassable quagmires. The Dragonfly Trail was one such casualty . . . particularly in one 100 ft section that is the lowest point in the backwash area. Not even the ATVs the rangers use could make it through that section. Some of us found out for ourselves by venturing too far and finding our feet and legs sinking almost knee-deep in clutching mud and ooze. I believe a few of the foolish lost shower-clogs to that mud.

No matter . . . a challenge and the day was bright and sunny. While the poor litter patrol had volunteered to also pick up litter from the textile area, and thus had to remain dressed, we had no such restrictions. Off came the clothes, on went the sun-block. Then we set to work on a plan:
  • Sand Shovellers to load the wheelbarrows with sand from the plentiful dunes in the back,
  • Wheelbarrow Drivers to move that sand down the trail, building it as we went, and,
  • Trail Engineers with rakes, moving that sand into place to build a firm and deep trailbed.
So off we went . . . a well-oiled (pun intended) conveyor-belt of endless wheelbarrows pushed (sometimes dragged) by naked and semi-naked people, slowly bringing in tons of sand to fill in and re-establish a walkable trail. We were kamikazes, bulldozing narrow tires through thick sand until someone had the bright, if not belated, idea to lay planks down so the wheelbarrows could make it to the dump-off point to dislodge a few more gallons of water and muck. The flies and mosquitoes started fleeing in panic as their native environs slowly disappeared . . . dark, forbidding muck turned a lighter tanned pavement of sand four feet wide and gaining purchase. Rangers finally broke through from other trails in ATVs and added their sand loads to the other side of the narrowing isthmus of muck. We waved at each other . . . naked volunteers from the various clubs and clothed Volunteers of the Gorge to happy Park Rangers.

Around one in the afternoon, the BBQ pit finally arrived and someone had to teach Shirley how to light charcoal briquettes . . . the work slowed down as hunger set in. Die-hards continued in the background as we salivated over the thought of hot dogs . . . and the promised beach awaiting us at the other end.

The beach was picking up visitors . . . trekking the long way, or not so long for the brave willing to venture through the remaining foot-deep muck. As true ambassadors, we made sure they understood that volunteers like ourselves is what gave and continues to give them this wonderful beach each year.

Celebrating the completion of trail work. I'm the unpixilated one in the center (I don't post other peoples pics without their permission)

That gap was narrowing . . . only a few feet remained. We were tired, beyond the expected duration of the project. But it only took a distinct cheer from down the trail to realize that completion was within a few more dozen loads of sand to complete. We shrugged, wolfed down the hot dogs in our hands (did I mention that someone forgot to bring the chopped onions?), and rushed to dash a sudden stream of wheelbarrows into a traffic-jam of waiting. It was something to see which grinning and enthusiastic volunteer would deliver that one load that would bridge the gap. It was close to 2pm before we raked and smoothed out the final load and started introducing the steady stream of park visitors to their new, easy access to the beach. Then it was our turn.

ORCOBA was represented by Jolly Roger, himself . . . who hauled more than his fair share of wheelbarrow loads. He had parked his boat, the RoLin off the beach and then set up shade in advance for us. What fun to wade out a hundred feet or more and still only be thigh deep in water. A thirst-quencher on the RoLin while the Jolly ole Pirate went off to remind some textiles who were intent on establishing a textile-only beachhead in our clothing optional area. As I lolled about on the foredeck of the pirate ship . . . gently bobbing in the passing ripples of skidoos . . . I thought to myself, what could be better.

Alas, I did not make Restful Haven . . . having gone to check in on my nephew in Forest Grove and spending the night there. But the reception and appreciation was genuine and heart-felt. Signs leading up to the resort welcoming everyone, no grounds fees, half-price camp fees and a great meal for only $4. I heard about the welcome throughout the next day.

Sunday we met up at Sauvies where we established our shade and towels on the beach. We did a litter patrol of the parking area before the early afternoon rush to the beach and then set off to accomplish one of the wish-list items for the rangers . . . help cleanup Willow Road.

Collins Beach on Sauvies Island

Willow Road is a textile beach about five miles south of the main beach areas. A small turnoff at the county line, I imagine many have passed it without ever knowing it's there. A short drive in and we found out why this place was on the wish list. It was trashed . . . garbage all over the place. We went to work and in the end stacked 14 heavy trash bags of garbage at the entrance for later pickup. Then it was back to Collins to get out of our clothes and enjoy that marvelous beach. By then, the parking lot was almost completely full and the beautiful beach certainly well-populated.

A little side note here. Just south of Collins beach . . . the officially-designated clothing-optional beach . . . is the textile beach of equal size and splendor. As we were driving back from our clean-up mission on Willow Road, I remarked to Shirley, the AANR-GAT leader for this event, that the textile beach was so empty that the grasses are growing back. Plenty of parking for the textiles as well. Guess that nude-sunbathing is more popular that our strait-laced politicians think.

Anyways, it fell to me to set up the cooking, and that I did, taxing my little propane grill to the max with package after package of hot dogs and buns while the rest of the crew lolled about or played bacchi ball. (Did I mention we still didn't have any chopped onions for the hot dogs?) The breeze was stiff (which made BBQing difficult but sure took the edge off the 90 degree temperatures on the beach). Fortunately we had plenty of shade and water. The AANR flag brought lots of the curious over to ask questions (or was it the smell of my grilling hot dogs, which we handed out free?) A few of the local clubs with us got the opportunity to answer questions. In all, it was an idyllic afternoon. Eventually, members had to start heading on their long trips back home. Myself and another SLUGgie ventured down the beach to make a courtesy call on Don and Peggy of the ORCOBA Association.

Don and Peggy are largely to thank for the success of these two beaches in the Portland area. In particular, they maintain a focus on safety and a disruption to the lewder and gawking elements at the beaches . . . which makes them more comfortable to beachgoers. The 'Yellow Flag' program is Don's and it was evident of the safety those yellow flags represented to the single females who situated themselves nearby.

Don was not there but I met up with Kyle of 'turn me over once an hour' fame, and Jim, who gave me a resounding beating in the Bare Buns Run last month as FS. We chatted it up and then headed back up the beach . . . lo and behold, Don and his lovely wife Peggy. Who could miss them. Alas, it was for a short chat . . . the only downturn of the day had happened . . . a drowning on the north end of the area . . . a non-swimmer. It was a somber mood for the rest of the afternoon as the recovery effort continued to dusk. Eventually I had to head home myself but I take the good memories and new friendships with me.

The recovery effort underway north (downstream on the Columbia) of the beach area

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