It didn’t look that far away, really, so we began walking…
We walked and walked and walked some more. The wind pushed us southward. We looked back, and the car we’d left parked on the beach looked like a spec of dirt, and still our destination seemed a long way off. So, we walked and walked…by a lone kite-flier, by a dead fish, by a gull or two, and then a long stretch among thousands of carcasses of “by-the-wind-sailors” (Vellela vellela), washed up along the shoreline simply because they were unlucky enough to encounter winds too strong to navigate at their usual 45-degree tack.
As we finally closed in on our destination – a sand dune and rocky outcrop to the south – we realized that what we thought would be a climbable dune rose 100 feet high at an incline of perhaps 30 degrees. No wonder no one else was climbing up and over it!
Sand smooth as glass from the relentless Pacific wind. We’d first spotted the giant dune from the Cape Lookout Hiking Trail. It wasn’t until later that I’d figure out that was more than 10 miles away. Up close, the dune felt enormous, untouchable, unscalable.
The scale of most things along the north Oregon coast is humbling. Not unlike a walk through the redwoods, walking the beaches or even hiking the trails along the Oregon coast has a way of putting me in my place, reminding me of the power of nature’s forces, the grand size of this beautiful Earth, and inspiring AWE in all its manifestations.
Bypassing the giant sand dune we picked our way over rocks to see and feel the waves crashing in – playing chicken with the ocean, hearing the pounding thud as water meets rock, wondering how high the tide would rise or fall in a day. Suddenly, a voice behind me said,
“Have you ever been here before?”.
I turned. A suntanned man stood there, holding a cigar. “No, first time,” I said. “You”?
“I’ve been coming here for 45 years.”
“Wow! You must have seen a lot of changes.”
“Ten years ago there was an arch of rocks here. Now look at it. You’re walking on it. I used to walk on top of that arch and go out to the outer rocks and collect mussels. Can’t get there now. It’s sad to see the destruction.”
Destruction. I thought on that a while. That’s one perspective. I just see it as change. Nature doesn’t stay the same. Rocks don’t stay the same. Shorelines don’t stay the same. Oceans see to that.
I looked back north toward our car. It was barely a spec on the sand. The tide was going out. The car would still be there, this time.
We walked…and walked…and walked. Past thousands of dead by-the-wind sailors, past gulls, past dead fish, past a lone kite-flier.
It’s the distance that fools…