We've arrived, my darlings, at Cape Meares, and it's only fitting that we look back upon where we've been.
You are standing on yet more Columbia River Basalt. Do try to contain your surprise.
Right, then. Let's have a look around. "Why do we have to look at more basalt, Dana?" you may wail, and I shall answer you: Not only are the views outstanding, but there's a bloody fantastic lighthouse here, one that stares you in the face as you walk down the path:
|Eye-to-Eye With a Lighthouse|
As you're walking toward the lighthouse, you may occasionally feel a sensation that makes you think sprinklers are on somewhere. There's a mist, you see, being blown upon the breeze. And it's not until you get a view of the cliff...
|View of the Cliff|
After you've amused yourself watching the waterfall fall down, then up, down-up-up-down at the whimsy of the wind, turn your attention to the cliff proper. Here is a cove where you see 200 feet worth of basalt. Four different Grande Ronde layers, in point of fact, though I had a hard time picking one from the other (haven't yet developed a geologist's eye). Look close enough, and you'll see some poorly-developed columnar jointing and even some billow basalts. It wears a cap of the Astoria Formation, not quite as jauntily as Cape Kiwanda sported its tree cover, but rather like dude wearing a serious sombrero. Or maybe a bowler.
|Ye Olde Cove|
|I Gotcher Contact Metamorphism Right Here|
The events that created that cliff were mind-bogglingly violent. When I look at it, I'm seeing a red-hot wall of lava rolling into the sea, great gouts and clouds of steam hissing and roaring as the basalt plunges through mud and sand and slakes itself in the sea. There was probably a gawdawful racket, explosions and boiling water and all manner of excitement. If I had a time machine, this is most assuredly not a spot I would've been visiting fifteen or so million years ago. I'm a wuss. I can't even convince myself it's a good idea to hop on a boat and take a lava tour in Hawaii, and that's the kind of piddly little eruption the Columbia River Basalts would've laughed derisively at. They would fart in Kilauea's general direction. They would taunt it a second time.
Water had the last laugh, though, and it's laughing loudest. This is an excellent place, one of the best in fact, to see the power of water. Look down.
|Most Excellent Wave-Cut Bench|
But it's so beautiful.
|Magnificent Wave-Cut Bench|
At the tip of the cape, you'll see Pillar and Pyramid rocks. They're bits of the old head that the ocean hasn't finished deconstructing yet.
|Pillar and Pyramid|
|Waters Circling Like Wolves|
From Cape Meares, you also get a better idea as to why the Three Arches Rocks are called that.
|Three Arches Rocks|
Of course, you should take some time off from watching hydrology attack geology and go visit yourself the shortest lighthouse in Oregon.
|Cape Meares Lighthouse|
So, a long long time ago in an Oregon Geology post far, far away, we talked a bit about landslides. Here, you can get a feel for how slidy the sedimentary slopes are. Peruse this view from the south bit of the cape, and note the bald patches where even the Pacific Northwest's insistent flora hasn't managed to hold on:
And that, my darlings, is it. We're about to leave the coast and head inland, where we shall see - prepare for a shocker - more basalt. But what basalt! A great gorge carved through it, and a river, and waterfalls, and we shall speak of floods the likes of which you'd best hope you'll never see.
Before we head inland, we shall impose upon the intrepid companion to take his best shot:
|Moi With Coast|