Sunday 25 July 2010

The Cape Crusader

Up in Washington, Highway 101 keeps a fairly respectful distance from the ocean in most places. In Oregon it comes much closer, and tangential offshoots and loop roads take you right up to its edge.

The shore line ducks in and out of little coves and harbours. Huge promontories venture out into the surf, overlooking the sea stacks that litter the coast. You can trace the outline of what would once have been land by these last outposts. In places they are reduced to tiny fragments of islands, and shelter sealions from the waves. A string of old lighthouses warn of their presence, and provide shelter for the tourists, among whom I must unfortunately number myself.

The last headland on the cleverly named Three Capes Scenic Drive is Cape Kiwanda. It comes as something of a welcome surprise to me, since it is neither green nor light-housed. It is a rocky cliff banked with steep sand, falling towards a long, wide beach with a huge sea stack sat defiantly among the waves. It's a wonderful spot - surfers and kayakers tackle the waves, everyone else tackles the dune. Climbing it is a struggle, running back down a lot more fun. At the top, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view (not that you have any left), and an old tree lies prostate, as though it had just made the climb itself and needed to put its feet up for a while.

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