A lone person confidently stands their ground amongst the chaos of crashing waves at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon. In January...


Shore Acres State Park, Oregon

A lone person confidently stands their ground amongst the chaos of crashing waves at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon.

In January of 2020 the Oregon Coast experienced an extremely high surf event. While I have witnessed high surf before, the swell height of 28-35 feet is on the extreme side. I took my son down to Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay so that he, too, could witness the intense power and fury of the ocean.

Shore Acres is well known for its massive crashing waves. Compression resulting from the collision of the Pacific Oceanic Plate with the western edge of North America forces the rock to angle steeply to the east, creating a rugged set of cliffs just offshore that rise out of the surf to create the shoreline. When combined with high surf swells, the result is thunderous crashes that dramatically send waves hundreds of feet into the air, a raw display of the immense power of nature. Add to that the surrounding geology and the interesting weathering of the rock and it has become one of my favorite places to visit on the coast no matter the conditions.

Like many of our natural areas, high surf advisories at Shore Acres have become quite the draw to nature lovers and photographers. Watching the waves becomes addicting, always waiting for the next big one that will be bigger than the last big one, which was the biggest of them all. The thunderous boom and explosion of water is invigorating, especially for those who venture closer to the wave action, with the water and spray raining down onto the viewing area. It’s quite rare to find a place that puts you so close to the action yet keeps you safe. This is one of the major draws of Shore Acres State Park: the intensity and adventure without the danger.

The main attraction is the rock shelf to the north of the main observation deck. This is where “THE” wave happens. If there’s ever an image that you’ve seen of Shore Acres it’s likely been of that specific rock shelf and a crashing wave. However, the rest of the shoreline offers up a variety of cliffs all interacting with the high surf, and in my opinion, offering up a more dynamic scene with waves crashing their way into the numerous coves. While I have hundreds of images from other days where I, too, had pointed towards the north, on this day the way the midday light backlit the mist and crashing waves when pointed to the south was hard to tear myself away from. I got lost in my viewfinder with these waves and this scene, huddled under my umbrella behind a parapet to shield myself from the deluge of crashing waves and ocean mist.

Nature has always offered me inspiration, perspective, solace, and reprieve and I often find metaphors for life in my photos. This photo is yet another example of that for me. It gives me hope that I can confidently stand amongst the crashing waves of life and come out clean on the other side. It’s these moments in nature that I am drawn to the most.. the moments and scenes that touch me in an introspective way, and it’s those moments that I try to capture in a bottle.

Photo © copyright by TJ Thorne.