By Mac McLean

The Bulletin

If you go

What: William Sullivan will discuss his latest edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon” in Bend and La Pine this weekend.

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday (La Pine Public Library, 16425 First St.) and 1 p.m. Sunday (Downtown Bend Public Library, 601 NW Wall St.)

Cost: Free

Contact: Visit www.deschuteslibrary.org/lapine or www.deschuteslibrary.org/bend to learn more about each presentation.

Keeping a series of successful guidebooks going for almost 25 years requires working with a network of people who will tell you whenever their favorite outdoor destination’s trailhead has moved, its access road has been improved or a flood/forest fire has made it impassable and a trip best skipped for now.

It also requires walking the fine line between being a person who promotes Oregon’s wild and scenic areas and one who protects them.

William Sullivan started taking on both of these when he published the first edition of his “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” in 1991. He has updated this book with new destinations and new information about old ones three times since then, and has added four new books to his “100 Hikes” series that look at destinations in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, the Oregon Coast, Southern Oregon, and Eastern Oregon.

“My hidden agenda is to get people to explore these places … (because) we don’t have crowds of people standing up and saying ‘We have to save them,’” said Sullivan, who will discuss his latest edition, “100 Hikes/Trail Guide: Eastern Oregon,” at two events in Deschutes County this weekend (see “If you go”).

Since Sullivan finished writing the fourth edition of “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” last year, a new trail section was added to the 6.9-mile loop around Smith Rock, a confusing “Private” sign was removed from the access road leading to the Wychus Creek and Canyon trail, and trees and brush have blocked the views that used to greet people who made it to the top of Hardesty Mountain and Rooster Rock.

“There’s fires, there’s floods, there’s all kinds of things that can happen (to a trail),” said Sullivan, who relies on his readers to tell him whenever something changes with their favorite trailhead because he “can’t do every hike in Oregon every year.”

Sullivan, of Eugene, said he gets at least one tip each week from readers who notice something about their favorite hike has changed since he was last there. He posts this information to his trail updates website and sends the person free, autographed copy of his guidebook as a thank you for his or her help.

He also rewrites each guidebook every few years to include new information about the trails it features and add new information such as a full-color guidebook that lets people know about hot springs they can visit and other nonhiking activities they can do while visiting a particular corner of the state.

Sullivan said it takes him a year to fully update every one of his guidebooks, except the Eastern Oregon one, which takes two because it covers a territory that stretches from the U.S. Highway 97 corridor — Klamath Falls, Bend, and The Dalles — to the Oregon-Idaho border.

“If you just drive through Eastern Oregon, you’ll think it is boring after a while,” Sullivan said as he talked about the region he plans to highlight during his speeches at the Downtown Bend and La Pine public libraries this weekend. “You really have to get off the highways to enjoy it.”

Sullivan said a few of this edition’s newest features include information about the recently created Cottonwood Canyon State Park on the lower John Day River near Wasco, the Spring Basin Wilderness Area near Clarno, and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area just outside of Bend.

He also writes about Sutton Mountain, a 58,000-acre stretch of land surrounding the John Day Fossil Beds that could become Oregon’s next federally protected wilderness area “if Congress ever gets its act together,” and a part of the Wallowa Mountains that has seen the return of wolves and members of the Nez Perce Tribe since Sullivan published the second edition of his Eastern Oregon trial guide in 2008.

But while most of the changes Sullivan made to his Eastern Oregon book were positive, he said he worries that one day he’ll have to write a special section letting people know that a particularly gorgeous vista or rock formation was bought by a private company and harvested for whatever minerals it contained.

“There is absolutely nothing keeping a corporation from China or Russia from buying (one of these places) and turning it into kitty litter,” Sullivan said, explaining his hope that sending people out to explore these places will motivate them to protect it.

One of the drawbacks about telling people about a specific site is the chance they may want to take a souvenir after they visit it. He sometimes sees this when he talks about places that have petroglyphs and old buildings people might destroy or scrap for firewood when they’re out in the woods.

Sullivan tries to avoid these problems by not telling people about any of these features unless they are at least half a mile from the trail head because the thought of hiking this distance seems to discourage people who don’t have a proper respect for nature from showing up.

People who fall into this category also don’t seem to like flipping through the pages of a book or doing research on their own, said Sullivan, who moves places that have seen too much use or damage from the front of his book, where they get a two-page write-up that includes a photo and and a map, to the back of his book, where they’re lucky to get three sentences and an “easy,” “moderate,” or “difficult” rating.

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, mmclean@bendbulletin.com

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