Ocean waves are powerful. Extremely powerful. Waves are one of the few erosional processes that operate within a time frame that can be perceived by humans. Gigantic rocks may be moved in one storm, and coastal cliffs can be eroded at rates that are measured in feet or meters per year. Rock can be extremely hard to erode, but if there is a weakness in the rock, it will be exploited by the impact of waves. I find it hard to believe that humans can survive the turbulence of the giant waves that experienced surfers love so much. This one fascinated me. I doubt my ride down Crystal Rapids, though the most violent non-automotive incident in my life, came anywhere close to the experience.
We were continuing our vagabonding journey through the northwest, driving north and leaving the sands of Florence behind. We almost immediately encountered rugged rocky cliffs. Although we didn't stop there on this particular trip, Sea Lion Caves provide a simply astounding example of what waves can do, given the right circumstances. A fault line cuts through the tough basaltic rock, and the wave erosion has produced one of the greatest sea caves in the Americas. Hundreds of Stellar's Sea Lions can be found hanging out in the caves or on the local beaches. It's one of the few places on the mainland where they feel safe enough to raise their young pups.
To visit the caves, you pay the somewhat steep entrance fee, walk down some steps and head down a paved path to the 200 foot elevator that drops you into the viewing area within the sea cave. From the trail,there is no view or sense of what lies below, given the steepness of the cliffs.
In a previous post, I looked to see if anyone has photographed the sea caves from the outside, and couldn't find any, so I used a Google Earth image. Since then, my own mom took care of the problem, and took a picture of the coast from a biplane.
|Source: Geotripper's Mom, from a biplane! Sea Lion Caves are in the shadows on the lower right hand of the photo. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is on the prominent headland.|
So, what about the devil referred to in today's title? There are a couple of connections, I guess. As I wrote previously, the noise is other-worldly, and if I were hearing it without the context, I would swear it was the tortured lost souls in Hades crying out for mercy. The vast opening echoes and amplifies the noise of around 200 sea lions.
One could almost imagine the dark cave leading to the River Styx.
We traveled a few miles north and found the Devil's Churn. The Churn provides a vivid example of how caves are eroded by wave action. There is a weakness in the rock, perhaps a fault or a joint, that has clearly been exploited by the vigorous wave action. Imagine that a more a stronger rock were on top of the churn, and one can visualize the formation of a sea cave.