Take a Hike—for the Environment
In honor of Earth Day we turn the Orphan Film spotlight on Beach Hike (1958), a conservation film about a three-day hike protesting a proposed coastal highway along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
Leading the seventy-two person hike was Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (who served from 1939–75), a passionate environmentalist who grew up in Yakima. In 1954 he had led a hike that protested (and defeated) a proposed parkway along the C & O Canal on the Potomac River.
Also participating in the Washington hike were Wilderness Society president Harvey Broome, National Parks Association president Sigurd F. Olsen, Olympic National Park superintendent Daniel B. Beard, and Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs president Polly Dyer, who organized the entire endeavor.
Beach Hike shows Douglas and company starting at Lake Ozette and proceeding to Cape Alava (the farthest point west in the 48-contiguous United States) before walking 20 miles south along the coast to Rialto Beach. The hike caught the attention of the media and helped the Pacific Northwest environmental movement find its footing. The proposed highway was never built along the Olympic Peninsula’s coast, which looks much as it did when Douglas walked it.
Beach Hike was shot, edited, and narrated by Seattle-based filmmaker Louis R. Huber, who spent much of his life exploring the outdoors and native communities of the Pacific Northwest. He also distributed the movie through his company Northern Films. Huber donated all of his film materials to the Oregon Historical Society, which preserved Beach Hike through an NFPF grant in 2015, under the supervision of archivist Matthew Cowan.