Northwest Wave Watching

Got down on the Oregon Coast for a few days in mid December, and happened to catch some wild waves in Depoe Bay, OR.

High tides and howling winds battered the shoreline, spattering storm watchers and sending seawater onto vehicles traveling along the highway 101.

A Horn that Spouts?

Depoe Bay’s waterfront features an interesting natural feature called a “spouting horn”. Basically it’s a small opening on the top of a sea cave… kinda like a whale’s blowhole!

It works when a sufficiently powerful wave is focused into the cave, sending a geyser of seawater out of the “spouting horn” and high into the air.

To catch the wildest waves, one must become a sort of amateur oceanographer and meteorologist, watching and waiting for a perfect storm of high tide and raging seas.

Forty feet or better if it was a foot!

Watching the undulating waves is mesmerizing; one might feel like an aspiring sea psychic, looking to the waves for clues to predict when the spouting horn will emit it’s mightiest Neptunian toots.

Transfixed, I watched as wave after wave collided. Then as a deep trough in the pattern opened up and was suddenly filled by a rushing cataclysm of saltwater and seafoam, forcing thousands of gallons into the sea cave below.

A rainbow of rain slicker clad revelers had gathered, marveling in a hushed awe as the resulting jet of ivory exploded from the spouting horn and into the stormy heavens.


Their trance broken by the visceral slap of the salty geyser coming back down onto the rocks. Even over the enveloping roar of wind and wave, the satisfying slap drew the applause of the brine faced onlookers. Who are they clapping for?!

Respite from the sideways rain was fleeting, but the unwavering crowd stood steadfast against the storm. I was wearing blue jeans and they were SOAKED, so I was ready to go!

Just north of town there was a miraculous break in the tempestuous weather, which enticed us to pull over at Boiler Bay to catch a deceptively warm looking sunset.


Winter brings the King Tides to the northwest; extreme high tides that occur beginning in early winter.

If these tides happen to coincide with some ugly weather…

There will be some waves! …and possibly serious erosion and flooding.

Be aware!

The first surge was from Dec 21st – 23rd, but they’ll be two others in the coming months:

January 20-22 will bring the second round of King Tides to northwest beaches.

February 18-20 will be the last chance to catch the King Tides until the next winter!


‘King Tides’ would make a pretty good local sports team name!

Any northwest coastal town looking for a new moniker? Coos Bay? Illwaco? How about Edmonds?

“It’s a King Tides kind of day!”

(you’d have to be familiar with the Edmonds town bumper sticker.)

Who says it’s gotta be a coastal town? How about Moses Lake King Tides? or Grand Coulee King Tides?!

Wait! Moses Lake Potato Lords! Now that’s a team name if I’ve ever heard one!

…and I don’t even like sports!


Pratt Mountain 5099′

To many visitors, Pratt Mountain, or simply “The Pratt” as it’s called by woodland hipsters, appears to be a giant heap of talus rising from the montane forest…

…and it pretty much is.


(From Talapus Lake TH)

  • 2400ft / 730m gain
  • 10mi / 16km round trip
  • <0.5mi/0.8km offtrail



“The Pratt” composes the north east buttress of a high plateau which holds a number of popular alpine lakes just north of the I90. Especially popular on summer weekends!

The shortest distance approach is from Talapus Lake trailhead, but can be also accessed from Ira Spring TH or Granite Mountain TH, whatever way you choose, you’ll want to end up around Rainbow Lake.

Rising behind the lake is the southwest face of Pratt Mountain; the aforementioned giant pile of talus. A non technical, but talus-y ascent awaits you.

Along the trail just east of Rainbow Lake, a handful of foot paths head up through trees to these rocky slopes, where one can contour northwest along the ridge to the summit.

There’s a good view of the surrounding peaks from the top o’ the Pratt. Just south one might be able to spy hikers atop Bandera Mountain, or yonder east at the Granite Mountain Fire Lookout.

Throw them a wave, or give em the bird! It’s basically the same gesture at this distance!


A round trip up “The Pratt” can be done as a day trip, but for those who like to stretch it out, there are ample camping opportunities.

There are nine lakes of size in the area, many with established campsites. During the summer months some of these lakes can be very popular with campers, so treat your water, and plan accordingly.


Make yourself a “Pratt Bratt” t shirt to commemorate your ascent! Fabric safe puffy paint works great!

A Sharpie marker works too, if you’re a habitual half ass.

I have a strong feeling that such a shirt could even help you make friend (s)!


You’ll need a Northwest Trail Pass to park at either the Talapus Lake TH or Ira Spring TH or you might get a ticket.

A self issued wilderness pemit is required for travel in wilderness areas, and is usually available at the trailhead.


Pratt Bratt pics 19NOV2018

Westport Cat Colony

Not a rowdy tavern. Ugh, that was awful…

The coastal hamlet of Westport is a well known destination for clammers, fishermen, kite flyers and… cat colony fanciers?! Well this one at least! 

For me, no trip to Westport is complete without a visit to the abandoned cat colony on the northern most tip of town to try and spy one of the few dozen felines dwelling within the vast seawall.

Crazy Cat Person monument 


Stretching from Lost Sailor’s Memorial at the east end of Neddie Rose Drive to the Observation Tower in the west, the north seawall is home to “The Jetty Cats”. 

The majority of the Jetty Cats seem to reside near the east end, closer to Lost Sailor’s memorial and the public fishing docks. There is ample parking here as well. Oh, and while you’re visitin’ the sea kittens…

The sea wall can also be a productive place to do some fishing when the tide is nice and high. Rock crabs can be abundant as well, but it can be real easy to lose your gear in the rocks…

PROTIP: The Jetty Cats can be pretty secretive, so a sighting isn’t always a guarantee, especially if you’re flailing around and yammering on. Be silent and be gentle and your chances to see one will improve.

Cat’s Café


Spaced along portions of the wall are feeding stations built and maintained by volunteer efforts. 

Basically they’re little cat cafés on poles, each with a metallic anti-raccoon cone keeping unwanted guests from the kitty vittles.

Sadly, all of the colony inhabitants are abandoned pets, some of them will still even approach trusted people. A volunteer capture and spay/neuter program prevents unchecked breeding at the colony. 

If you are interested in learning more or about making donations, contact the Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals at (360) 942-4716 or write:

H.A.V.A, P.O.Box 243, Raymond, WA 98577

Looking down the cat wall

From the I-5: At Olympia head west on the US101. Bear left onto state Route 8, which becomes the HWY 12 as you continue towards Aberdeen. Once at Aberdeen, head south on the state route 105 which will take you all the way to Westport, follow it north through town to the Sea Kitten’s Lair.