You'll Never Believe What the Oregon Coast Did Last Night
Published 06/29/2015 at 5:34 AM PDT
By Andre' Hagestedt
(Oregon Coast) – Consider this a photo essay with a lot of words.
Even as a professional beach bum of sorts – an obsessed explorer of the beaches for some 20 years now – it's still possible to be amazed. Especially when a brief evening expedition last night yields quite the cadre of wonders: the green flash at sunset, some impressive colors, a sudden fog bank, tidal surprises and glowing sand. (Above: Sunday night in Cannon Beach, with the moon and pink clouds).
You just can't get tired of this gig.
Arriving on the north Oregon coast just about sunset, a whole host of offshore clouds have clustered together, attempting to block out the sun. It disappears periodically, but mostly it bounces around through holes in the thicker clouds and creates big beams and shafts of light.
At one point, there is but a small slit between a darker, offshore layer and the higher, lighter clouds that are closer. I am just getting onto the beach at Cannon Beach at this point, and starting a variety of equipment checks and other preliminaries with my camera. Sometimes, photographing this place feels like a NASA launch.
As I'm playing with exactly what shot to get first, the sun pops out oh-so briefly, then descends below that blacker layer farther out. It's here – to my surprise – I again see that famed Green Flash at Sunset. Of course, my camera is not trained on that, so it was not caught by the lens. It was a subdued and brief one, but spectacular. As the disc was just dipping away behind the ragged shape of that puffy cloud layer, its extreme outer, edges turned green. The cloud was of an uneven shape, of course, so part of the sun flashed green as one section disappeared, followed by another tiny section just below and to the left that also went green.
For about ten more minutes I snapped away at various cloud formations and their changing colors, post-dusk. It always amazes me how the shades of the sunset can shift from reds, oranges to pinks and other colors, sometimes within minutes.
The beach quickly has another surprise in store. A sudden fog moves in – fast. The two-mile drive down towards Arch Cape (where I stop to gobble the burger I ordered at Warren House) gvies you a front row seat to the beach completely disappearing.
It gets crazier up above Manzanita. The drive around Neahkahnie Mountain is enveloped suddenly and thoroughly. It looks like winter. But it's summer, and what this means is that inland heat is helping to literally suck the moisture off the ocean air, thus creating fog.
Then, about 1 a.m., I hit the beach at Manzanita to see what the camera can see in this thick fog. After all, it sees things we humans don't. I was prepared to be surprised, but instead all I got from a long time exposure was a white fog bank at night. This was no surprise. And it was disappointing.
However, wandering down to the beach yielded some more finds.
There were huge piles of sand everywhere: a sure sign that again sand levels are extremely high this year as in previous years. Indeed, I found the tide way, way out there. It was like an extremely low minus tide event. But it's not. These kinds of sand levels keep the tide out much farther than normal.
In fact, from what I could see (even in the dark), was that the tideline was unusually calm and flat. This means sand levels are extremely high, making a much longer, more gradual incline for the ocean to travel.
What this means is that all over the Oregon coast, many landmarks normally inaccessible because of the tide will be open and safe to go to. Places to check will be Oceanside, Arch Cape, the Devil's Punchbowl near Depoe Bay and various beaches just south of Yachats.
I took a brief photo of this as an experiment as well. What you get is a surreal fog-scape with a beach that looks like Mars.
To top things off, again I also spot the “glowing sand” phenomenon. These are forms of tiny phytoplankton that are bioluminescent, in the same way fireflies are. They are extremely faint, even in this near pitch black. But I never cease to flip out when I see them: tiny explosions of green, blue dots in the sand.
Unfortunately, these are too faint to photograph – though I even tried some new techniques here. This failed.
If you needed more reasons to head to the coast right now: well, here they are. The glowing sand will come and go, and the green flash doesn't happen all that often. But they're well worth the effort to look for. The high sand levels will last all summer long and probably only get higher – so you have that to look forward to exploring.
More from last night in Cannon Beach below:
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net