Rounding the corner, a statue of two embracing black bears honors Norman Kittel, who with his wife, Joanne, purchased in 1986 the acreage that this part of the trail crosses. The Kittels were instrumental in establishing a permanent easement for the trail and in organizing volunteers and workers for its creation.
I contemplate Amanda, for whom the trail is named, as I descend into the grotto. In 1864 she, along with hundreds of American Indians, were forced to walk from their coastal homes to the Yachats area. Amanda’s name and this injustice were noted in the journal of a corporal soldier. Old and blind, she was separated from her young child and her white settler partner, and forced to traverse the sharp, skin-shredding rocks of Cape Perpetua.
I’m drawn to the statue. I consider the atrocities that we, as humans, have inflicted on each other over the years. But I am also struck by the tireless work people like Joanne Kittel have undertaken to heal and teach. Each New Year’s Day, people participate in a Peace Hike from Yachats and revisit this sublime spot as an opportunity to lean into the healing.
I continue across the small foot bridge – the original bridge having been destroyed in a landslide that also buried the original Amanda statue. Ascending the mountain, I lose the sound of the ocean, but my senses are filled with the sounds of birds and the overwhelming vision of the deeply verdant forest. Last night’s rain has awakened moss, mushrooms and thousands of flowers. The silent but palpable energy of the forest ecosystem fills me, as well.
Before I reach the Stone Shelter perched atop Cape Perpetua, the time to turn around comes. Today, I came to the trail seeking clarity, and I find it in remembering the tenacity and strength that created this trail and in honoring the land and its people. Descending, I’m hopeful that the clarity found today will illuminate my own path.
Amanda and the Amanda Trail have a perceptible presence in Yachats. Although not as immediately obvious as the crashing waves, they are woven into the fabric of this community. Remembering, honoring and hoping are integral to the way we live.
For more on Amanda, read the blog post about her.
To learn about the Amanda Trail, read this post by John Sparks on the TrailKeepers of Oregon website.