News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Author will explore trails in Fireside Story

Bill Sullivan, a well-known Oregon author of outdoor guidebooks, is the featured speaker at the Three Sisters Historical Society’s first Fireside Story Evening of the 2021-22 season on Tuesday, November 16, 7 p.m., at the FivePine Conference Center, 1021 E. Desperado Trail.

Sullivan will be sharing a visual presentation from his book, “Hiking Oregon’s History,” an armchair hiker’s tour of Oregon’s most historic sites. He describes the evening as “a glimpse into Oregon’s largest museum — the great outdoors.” The talk will combine Oregon history with photos of related trail hikes, highlighting some of the state’s most interesting and scenic sites.

A prolific writer, Sullivan has penned over 22 books and numerous articles about Oregon, since his first book was published in 1988. Along the way he established his own publishing company, Nauville Press.

Sullivan’s roots grow five generations deep in Oregon. His father, J. Wesley Sullivan, was the editor of Salem’s Statesman Journal newspaper. His father’s lifelong advocacy of wilderness conservation encouraged Sullivan’s love of the outdoors, which has played a major role throughout his life, beginning at age five when he started hiking. He continues today for enjoyment and to conduct research for his books. He also enjoys cross-country skiing and reading foreign language novels. He plays the pipe organ and harpsichord.

After graduating from South Salem High School, Sullivan received a two-year scholarship to small, remote Deep Springs College in the Southern California desert for more experiences in nature. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University, attended Heidelberg University for two years, where he studied linguistics, and returned to the University of Oregon, where he received his Master of Arts in German Literature in 1979.

Sullivan and his wife, Janell Sorenson, will be coming to Sisters from their home in Eugene. They spend their summers on the Siletz River, at a remote cabin they built together by hand over 25 summers using pioneer tools and building techniques. The cabin is where he does much of his writing and is the subject of his memoir, “Cabin Fever: Notes from a Part-Time Pioneer.”

In 1985, he hiked the breadth of Oregon from Cape Blanco, the state’s westernmost point of land, to Hells Canyon in the far northeastern corner. While covering over 1,300 miles in two months, Sullivan kept a journal of his travels in the backcountry wilderness, which became the basis for his book “Listening for Coyote.” In 1989, the book was chosen as an Oregon Book Award creative nonfiction finalist. It was recognized again in 2005 by the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission as one of the 100 most significant books in Oregon’s history.

In 2000, Sullivan began publishing his popular hiking guides. The first was titled “Oregon’s Trips and Trails,” highlighting 100 Oregon outdoor destinations, and included 800 maps and photographs. He followed that first guide with his many “100 hikes” books covering all sections of Oregon and Southwest Washington. All of the guides contain information on local history, geology, plants and animals, as well as detailed trail maps, area photographs, and directions. He updates all the guides every few years to keep them current.

Sullivan offers a free copy to anyone who finds an error in one of the guidebooks, thus getting help from the public to be sure the guides are accurate.

Besides his guidebooks, Sullivan has written a number of mystery, history, and fiction books, including a fictional account of the D. B. Cooper airplane hijacking. His collection of short stories titled “Oregon Variations: Stories,” includes at least one story from every Oregon county.

Doors at the FivePine Conference Center, located behind the FivePine Lodge, will open at 6 p.m. to allow attendees to peruse Sullivan’s and other books available for purchase, as well as Ray Eyerly art prints. Museum memberships may also be purchased allowing free admission to all Fireside Story Evenings. Admission for the general public is $10.

Attendees must wear a mask all evening in the center. Socially distanced seating will be available. The usual beverage service will not be offered due to COVID-19 restrictions. The presentation will be available on a live Facebook feed on the Three Sisters Historical Society page starting at 7 p.m. Videographer Cody Rheault and photographer Jerry Baldock will both be documenting the presentation.


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