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Original Issue


A band of contemporary pioneers sets out to demonstrate that progress should sometimes come second to conservation

Over the crash of the incoming tide below, the voice of the man clamped flylike to a precipitous rock promontory rang clear. "Tell the others to go back," cried Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, aged 59 years. "Let them take the safer way and meet us on the other side." Then, just beyond the reach of the shattering waves of the Pacific Ocean, Douglas and his wife Mercedes gingerly pressed on. When the others had rounded the headland, blowing hard, the Douglases were disappearing in the distance.

It was that way for three days last week as Mr. Douglas, on vacation from the bench, led 67 men, women and children through 22 miles of untracked Washington State wilderness bordering the Olympic Peninsula. In the name of beauty and the American heritage, Mr. Douglas and his footsore faithful were attempting to show cause why a proposed highway should not be built beside the sea and thus violate the longest stretch of U.S. coastline (43 miles) still preserved in its primeval state. "Can we afford to lose the last such place where a person can get away from it all and savor what is true in nature?" the justice asked as he strode purposefully across a kelp-choked tidal flat. "I think it is essential to the sustenance of the American character that we do not," he answered and sprang over a pile of driftwood. There were those who dissented (see page 36), but few could say that Justice Douglas lacks that American character which he so actively champions.

Burdened by pack and weighty mission, Justice Douglas, trailed by his wife, picks his way over rocks.

Midway between Ozette and Lapush, Washington, on second day out, hikers cool sore feet by walking barefooted down glistening beach on one of hike's easier stages.

Climbing misty escarpment washed by ocean during night's high tide, hikers leave camp before sunup. By court decree reveille was sounded at 5 a.m. sharp.

With Justice Douglas at head of line, members of the expedition file Indian-style through forest surrounding Lake Ozette as they head for coastline of the Pacific.

After evening meal, Mr. Douglas and his wife Mercedes roll up pants and wade into surf to wash utensils. Lunch each day consisted of gorp, meaning "belch" in Norwegian, hikers' high-energy concoction of nuts, raisins and chocolate candy.

At trip's end, hikers are met by pro-road builders. Larry Venable (right), Washington trucking executive, said: "We want a shore-line road so everybody can enjoy it." Mr. Douglas replied: "You already have 90% of it. Why not leave us 10%?"