Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lesson from the Oregon coast - Keep Your Eyes Wide Open

Cooks Chasm at Cape Perpetua on the Central Oregon Coast wows visitors with the Spouting Horn, (above) crashing waves, and a unique feature called Thor's Well. The big question: How did we miss it for 45 years?!

Thor's Well. A scary dangerous awe-inspiring nature show accessible by foot. 
No one  predicts that they'll become old and set in their ways, doing what they've always done.
Do they?  I certainly did not. But apparently, my calcification started early.
Early 1970s, PK and me at Cape Perpetua. 
Photo credit, Pat Teel

PK and I met in Newport on Oregon's central coast in the early 1970s. Believe me, the Oregon coast is unusually romantic. Our little spark lit there and has flickered and flamed for decades.

Cape Perpetua is about 30 miles south of Newport ,just south of Yachats, and we've visited   dozens of times.

We've  always done the same damn thing; hike a short steep trail to the rim of Devil's Churn, a narrow slot into which waves crash and spray with oooooh and ahhhhh results.

Then we load into the car and zoom off. Never realizing that, by failing to look around, we were missing one of the top scenic spots on the entire fantastic Oregon coast.

We practiced our predicable routine on a recent spring stop at Cape Perpetua. But when we looked over the edge at the Devil's Churn, it was not crashing and booming. Instead it was calm and peaceful, as if inviting swimmers to come on down and take a dip.

Returning, disappointed, to the van, we finally, after decades, noticed a path that led south out of the Churn's parking area.
    Red lines are trails. Yachats is just off the map to the
north. Sea Lion Caves is just off to the south.

Still clueless!

We actually drove a minute or two to the Cook's Chasm turnout, which we'd passed time and again without noting.

We pulled in, and in a few seconds, we were incredulous at what we'd been missing.

Later, after spending at least a half hour gawking, we walked the paved trail back to Devil's Churn. A beautiful walk. Who knew?

We were fortunate to arrive as the tide was about to crest. Although the sea was relatively calm, Thor's Well was spouting plumes then sucking them backwards in a mighty display of power.

Thor's Well is in drain mode as a young couple approaches its rim. 
The female half of the couple wears inappropriate footwear for the rugged lava flow terrain. The boyfriend appeared to be under Cook's Chasm's spell, and also her's.

She's on her own as the water recedes in its endless spout and drain cycles. Soon after this photo was taken, a half dozen people ventured close to Thor's Well, and as the tide was nearing its highest for the day, those spectators were suddenly ankle to mid-calf deep in saltwater. They quickly retreated. The "well" is around 16 feet deep, but stumbling into it presents inescapable dynamics. Oddly enough, there's no record of anyone drowning there.

Cleft of the Rock lighthouse at Cape Perpetua on Oregon's central coast. When you see
this, you'll know that Thor's Well is not far away. Neither is Devil's Churn.

Sea lions lounging on the beach likely also hang out at the nearby Sea Lion Caves, a tourist attraction well worth seeing. We've taken out-of-state visitors to the Caves, but, out of ignorance, deprived them of, umm, other notable sights.

A slot in the lava flow seen from the trail between Cook's Chasm and Devil's Churn.
 If you go, take a half hour and walk this easy out-and-back scenic trail.

An immature bald eagle oversees the action between Devil's Churn and Cook's Chasm.
 That's what I've always needed—
an eagle eye. 

Previous posts featuring the Oregon Coast 

Oregon Coast Getaway in August - not as great as you might think.

First road trip 2017 Southern Oregon Coast - February - better than expected

1 comment:

  1. I've been to Yachats and down the entire coast a hundred times, at least, and I've never been to Devil's Churn or Thor's Well, never even heard of them before. Next time I'll stop! Never been to the Sea Lion Caves because it always look too 'tourist-y'. Now I want to drive from The Columbia to the redwoods. And camp at Jed Smith and Fort Bragg and and and...