A close-up of the ridge line on the north side of Humbug Mountain. If you look down under the foliage, you can see the trees grow more or less straight up to that level, then simply torque over about 60 degrees or so. I'm sure if you had a well-insulated concrete bunker, with foot-thick bullet-proof glass, sitting out a storm here would be a wonderful experience. I suspect without those amenities, it would likely be one's final experience.
We're looking southward up Humbug Mountain here, from the bridge that carries Route 101 across Brush Creek. The rock here is Humbug Conglomerate, if I recollect. (Computer and wifi are being fussy right now, and I think the reference I typically fall back on for this area may be temporarily off-line, so I'll double check and correct later, if need be.) But for our first brief stop here, I wanted to show Dana the brute force that the coastal winds exert on the confers growing on the mountainside. Brush Creek has carved a minor canyon north of the mountain, one of the highest (if not the highest) rising directly from the coast in Oregon. This funnels the wind up the canyon, increasing its speed. Those trees show the effect of their frequent torment by coastal gales. Indeed, this section of road around Humbug Mountain takes its toll on travelers as well. Wind-caused accidents are not uncommon here, and during particularly severe storms, it's often simply closed as too dangerous to use.
The "port" at Port Orford consists of a high dock, with a pair of cranes to physically lift boats out of the water. It appears that there are a pair of boats queued up for their turn, but despite waiting in the chilly wind for some time, we didn't actually get to see the feat accomplished. At a certain point, despite sheltering behind a concrete wall/windbreak, it was just too frigid to wait any longer.
This is certainly an odd situation, and it's related (unsurprisingly, if you know me) to the geological setting of this area. The coast side of the Coast Range and Klamath Mountains get tremendous amounts of rain, so coastal streams and rivers tend to be common and closely spaced, with a significant river every 30 miles or so as one travels north or south. As a result, the drowned estuaries of these drainages make for excellent ports. The typical range for a fishing boat is 30 miles in a day- as much as 15 miles out and 15 miles back to port. But in this area, there isn't a large river and natural port. Bandon to Gold Beach, Oregon, is about 55 miles. This means without an "artificial" port such as this one at Port Orford, a fairly large segment of our rich coastal fishing would be inaccessible. Given that reality, the construction of this dock in a relatively sheltered cove makes good sense.
Looking south from Port Orford to Humbug Mountain, which is cut off in the low clouds. The abundant sea stacks of the southern Oregon coast are apparent here. Port Orford is uniquie in Oregon in that there isn't actually a "port." As we'll see tomorrow, there is instead a dock with cranes.
A benchmark/survey marker at our stop along Cape Blanco Highway. I grew up under the impression that benchmarks were supposed to have their elevations imprinted on them, but at least in Oregon, few do. The ones that do appear to be older. I'm guessing the lower "1988" on the one pictured above was the year it was placed, so it's pretty recent.
Calcite (CaCO3) is easily identifiable in a number of ways. Its softness is distinctive; at a hardness of three, it scratches easily. It famously bubbles when you put a drop of acid on it, though I have only rarely carried acid with me for testing. The places and minerological environments in which it occurs are broad, but can be helpful. Its color is highly variable, but tends to be on the white/pastel end of things. Its rhombohedral cleavage is very distinct, and frequently a dead give-away, as are its variety of crystal forms. But the photo above shows the feature that, in practice, is the one that is most often the visual cue that brings up my hammer for a quick scratch test for confirmation: striated weathering. My understanding is that this is related to the mineral's perfect cleavage and relatively high solubility in water. Cleavage is the result of planar arrangements of atoms that are more strongly bonded within planes, but less strongly bonded across planes. As a result, between those planes is the easiest place for the mineral to split. In the case of calcite, this means it's also the easiest place for its ions to go into solution. So if calcite grains of a size large enough to be visible have been sitting out in the weather for a significant amount of time, they will generally show the linear etching- striations- seen in the sample above.