Mystery of the Ice Mold

I’m still getting caught up on posting…

On December 3 I invited Kelly to get out of the valley fog and explore some new areas near the coast.  We headed first for Drift Creek Falls, famous for its 240′ long, 100′ high suspension bridge in the middle of nowhere.  With no wind the valley was clear but cold, hovering around 31 degrees.  Our first discovery was a type of mold or fungus we had never seen before.

Weird-looking "mold"

We were about to give up and bring some home to show Ali, when Kelly touched it and it melted – ice!  Somehow at just below freezing waterlogged sticks extruded long, hair-thin ice crystals through every pore, creating an ice formation with the appearance and texture of cotton candy.  We tried eating it – pure water with a slight flavor of the rotting wood it came out of.

The falls themselves are a 70-foot cascade over columnar basalt where one branch of Drift Creek falls into the valley of the other branch.

The bridge is beautiful and provides an otherwise-impossible view of the falls, and we pondered exactly how it was erected out here with no road access.  Helicopters?

The trail crosses the bridge and descends to the base of the falls.  The bridge itself was covered in a layer of ice, and we were glad to have the railings.

We took a loop trail on the return, exploring a bit more of the second-growth forest with huge rotting stumps of the original old-growth

Bird's nest fungi - the "eggs" are spore-bearing structures, and the spores are dispersed when rain splashes water out of the cups.

From the falls we drove to Neskowin Beach, home of the ancient semi-petrified stumps preserved when an earthquake caused their forest to sink below sea level.  It was 50 degrees and sunny – so different from the 32 degrees and foggy in the valley inversion.

Neskowin Beach

Intricate sand-patterns on the edge of the surf

As our final destination, I wanted to check out Mount Hebo, and 3154 feet one of the higher peaks in the Coast Range and supposedly with a good view in all directions.  We were a bit disappointed, as much of the top has been pulverized for a former Air Force radar installation and it is still covered in radio and TV towers.  It did have a decent view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson, as well as the ocean, but it lacked the wildness and serenity of Marys Peak.

Towers on Mount Hebo


On December 5, Ebba successfully defended her doctoral thesis, a cause for much celebration.  With her parents and friends here, we sampled all six of our fermenting carboys.

Left to right: pinot rose, chardonnay, apple cyser mead, blackberry mead, spice mead, pear mead.

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