Discussing the Finer Points of My Favorite Cape
Cape Blanco is a gem on the coast of Oregon. I've made two visits there, in 2008 on a solo trip and last February (2009) with my girlfriend. I enjoyed myself on both visits, and will gladly go back to take in its alluring qualities. The cape itself juts out into the ocean similar in shape to a shark fin. While not a giant piece of land, it's a very scenic vista situated about 100 feet off of the ocean, with rolling grassy hills, leading to the picturesque lighthouse (private). The view north is a sweeping ocean view of the rough ocean swells bashing into rocky seastacks and finally rolling up onto the sloping sand beach. Sea grasses cover the rising hills which meet forests of lush Sitka spruce. Looking south, a green grass carpet leads the eye to a giant sea stack, patiently sitting on the shore. The sandy beach stretches on to the horizon, with healthy rolling waves caressing and massaging the sand. Humbug mountain is visible in the mist, rising above the forests that grow to the edge of the cliffs of southern Oregon. This place is very easy on the eyes and good for the soul.
Cape Blanco is the first place I ever went tide pooling successfully. I'd tried other areas along the coast, but never found anything of interest. Then in 2009 I visited Cape Blanco with my girlfriend and learned that the north side of the cape had good tide pools. So we made a plan to hit low tide and check them out. The next day after breakfast we made our way out to the cape and down to the beach. We weren't expecting much, as we hadn't had much success in our previous efforts at looking for pools, but here we found immediate success. Orange and purple sea stars were clinging in the nooks and crannies of the first boulder we looked at, and from there we spent a happy morning jumping from rock to rock searching for and finding a variety of sea life. We found giant green anemones, california mussels, the giant sunflower sea star, the nudibranch, black leather chitons, small hermit crabs, rough keyhole limpets and other sea life. An ecological jackpot, you might say. It was tremendously interesting to explore a self contained ecosystem.
We worked our way far out to the tip of the cape, climbing a high rock to watch the westerly waves crash to the shore. The tide was turning, so to be safe, we turned around and worked our way back along the shore. We found a crack in the cliff that we missed on our way out, as we were too busy inspecting the pools. We took a quick detour and explored the crack, some 4 feet wide, 25 feet high and stuffed with driftwood. We made our way through it and found an eerie rocky, alien looking landscape, filled with sea water, jagged rock outcrops and tide pools. It was obvious that during high tide, this place would be rocking with heavy swells bashing the rock. As it was, we found some nesting seagulls which were annoyed with our presence, and a sea cave that was a Giant Green Anemone nursery, producing some of the largest ones I'd ever seen. With the tides coming in we knew we shouldn't stay long, so we made our way back out through the crack to the north side and headed back to camp. We were very tired, and fatigued from our morning jaunt, but very satisfied with our efforts.
The campground of Cape Blanco is situated off the ocean a fair distance, but close enough to still hear the roar of the ocean. The campground is situated in a grove of dark Sitka spruce. It's a quiet place, at least in February, as few people are hearty enough to camp in the winter. Winter on the coast is like spring or fall back in Minnesota, so I don't mind camping out at all. I've camped in my van, and also rented a yurt, and enjoyed both sites. I especially liked the yurt. What a great idea! It comes with bunk beds, a heater, a small table, couch and lights, everything you need to make camping a little more luxurious.
The driftwood that piles up on the shore of Cape Blanco inspired me to invent Log Hopping. The basic premise is to cross a section of beach without touching the sand. Now, this can be as difficult and challenging as a person wants to make it. It's relatively easy to walk from log to log, but I like to spice it up, making difficult routes through the mass of huge logs. It's a great test of my balance and agility, seeing how far I can jump and still land on the log I'm aiming for. It's great exercise and a lot of fun. I'm all about creativity in action, especially when I'm playing outside!
The cape exemplifies what I love most about the west coast. I love the fresh air of the prevailing western winds. The fog and mists that form makes the air as fresh and cool as possible. It's a great place to breathe. I like the rain. It obliterates the tracks of everything, like a good shake of an etch-a-sketch. I like to go for a walk after a heavy rain, it makes me feel like I'm the first person to ever walk the beach. The ocean waves are a constant companion. I love watching them up smash into the rugged coast, sending up huge plumes of spray. The continuous roar of the swells drowns out all other sound. I like to listen to the constant white noise of the ocean as I drift off to sleep, breathing the fresh air, exhausted from my days activities.
This is why Cape Blanco is one of my favorite places.