Of all the beautiful places in the world, the Oregon coast is still one of my favorites. It has a palpable raw energy in its forests and in the ocean crashing against the rocks. The area has an ancient soul, a place where one can feel the tree spirits, the animal spirits and the rock spirits.
Treacherous cliffs dive into the Pacific Ocean, sending foamy waves to meet the oncoming surf from across the world.
Trails meander from sand beaches and rocky plateaus into old growth forests where the Ents of Fangorn from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings have come to life. They guard the undergrowth with craggy branches and shadowy, hobbit-sized holes in their living trunks. One is almost fearful to walk too loud, lest they awake and snatch you from the path.
The dampness of the rain forest is a constant companion. In the evening, a cloud blanket rolls in from the distant horizon, like a fog in a B sci-fi movie. It comes closer and larger until it covers the beach, the rocks, and the forest. Under this shroud of cloud, our campfire is uncomfortable, perhaps too well aware of it’s old enemy: water.
On the rocky crags, the Pacific churns into the crevices with deadly force. Or it blows through holes creating a geyser of salty spray. In some places, the ocean decorates the sand beaches with a driftwood forest.
We camped at Cape Perpetua, originally named in 1778 by Capt James Cook while looking for the western entrance to the mythical Northwest Passage. In those same ancient bays, whales still cruise for dinner, oblivious of us onlookers.
In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps which President FDR formed to put people to work during the Great Depression, built a stone shelter on the highest point of the coast. At 800 feet above sea level, one can see 37 miles out from the shore. The shelter was used as a lookout during World War II. Maybe we should stay up here and watch for North Korean missiles.