Cliffs

Fractured Earth

MR 893

While exploring a rock outcrop, I found that it had a crack that more or less went through the whole formation. Caves are rare in our area, so I was curious if I could [safely] find one in this sandstone rock complex. While fractured rock is the name of the game in the Fransican sandstone make up of most of Humboldt County, its neat when you can explore a large, intact chunk of solid rock.

From the top of the rock I could see down in some places into a deep crevasse. This fracture went down as far as I could see, at least one hundred feet. I followed the crack to the edge of the cliff, and did my best to memorize a few trees that were growing at the base of the rock, in hopes I could find them on the other side. In this way I could try to find this fissure from the bottom and see if there were any caves.

From the bottom, I note that shadows create the illusion of potential caves, but closer inspection revels that this outcrop is solid. And massive, at least relative to other rocks near it. The cliffs here are 100-200 feet. I find the trees I remember, but dont see any openings. But there is a large talus slope, broken up rock the accumulates on the base of cliffs, that leads up to a small ‘valley’ in the rock face.

And…lo and behold there is a cave, of sorts. Right off the bat, this place is dicey. A cave has formed by large pieces of rock becoming wedged into the large crack. It looks precarious for sure, but its not moving. Well, unless there was an earthquake…. Still I work up the courage to go in…I didnt sweat all the way up here for nothing!

MR 912

I work my way in about 50 feet before I start to have second thoughts. Infact the thought of an earthquake is really hard to shake from my mind. I know as a fact that this rock outcrop sits right on a local fault known as the Gordon Fault.

Then I get to this spot where the ‘floor’ just disappears into darkness. I realize I am standing on large rock fragments wedged into the crack, much like the ‘ceiling’ above me. As I look down, I cant see anything that resembles a bottom. I attempted to use my camera flash to capture this depth, but the perspective was hard to shoot – at least with my phone camera.

MR 914

Well, no long lost treasure or hundreds of bats. But I was pretty satisfied with my adventure. For Humboldt County, this is a pretty unique rock formation. One for books for sure.

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Return to the Hidden Canyon

MR 806

I was able to crawl up into my secret canyon again. This place in one of the coolest places I stumbled on, and despite its impressive scale, it is very well hidden. The canyon is about 400-500 feet long and has sheer cliff walls that are close to 80 feet. Too bad I only have a phone to take pictures with. This spot certainly deserves better, and as with last time, I am a little disappointed in the pictures. The light was not the best for me and well lets face it, Im just a forester with a camera phone. LOL Someday I will get a real camera, or take a real photographer here.

How Rugged?

ER 046

Our coastal hills can be extremely rugged. The lower Eel especially within the sandstone bluff formations. Away from the cliffs on the beach… are more cliffs. You just cant see them because they are covered in a think jungle of trees and brush. The mountains behind Ferndale and Centerville have some of the most rugged forests in the county.

ER 051

One interesting feature that I encounter in the lower Eel River areas are extremely steep ridges that are surprisingly narrow. Here above Ferndale a ridge gradually rises; a sheer sandstone bluff to the south and a steep hillside to the north. The ridge is 3-5 feet wide, which is actually somewhat nerve-wracking, being that the bluff is at least 200 feet vertical. And the other side is not much better. The ridge also had a unique, windblown micro environment. These nooks and crannies are where bio-diversity is going to be highest is a forest. And sure enough, manzanita in a spruce forest!

ER 049