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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

PDX-Oly-Astoria Tour, Day 7: Cape Disappointment, The Pacific(finally!), and a bear.

Today was an interesting day, to say the least. 101 went through some sparsely settled countryside. There was no store until Ilwaco, 37 miles into the ride, and 3 miles before the end of my biking day. This is pretty rare in these parts. Even SR 6, which went through pretty much nothing, had a store and/or cafe every 15 miles.

Nothing to do but ride. The riding was pretty okay for the most part; some rolling, a couple larger hills, and quite a bit of flat. The first 20 miles alternated between glimpses of the Willapa Bay and its many riverine tributaries, forest, and clearcuts.
Moments of forested beauty on 101, between clearcuts.
The last 20 miles was definitely the most scenic part of the day, as 101 quieted down a bit as it hugged the shores of Willapa Bay while passing through a wildlife refuge. Soon after I arrived in Ilwaco, where I stocked up on some groceries and rode the final 2.5 miles to Cape Disappointment.

Cape Disappointment is the most southwesterly point in Washington, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific. It gets its "historical significance" and its Anglo name from the Lewis and Clark expedition, who wintered around here before returning to the east. But this park is anything but disappointing! It's got plenty of forest, beach, lighthouses (2), and a hiker-biker site. Yet as cool as this park is, I was the only cyclist. Where is everyone? I spotted two other cyclotourists today besides the German woman at Bruceport. I'm guessing most folk bypass this park (it's slightly out of the way) and stay at Fort Stevens on the Oregon side of the Columbia. Now of course I love my state parks, but I think Cape Disappointment has a leg up on Stevens.

Anyways, after setting up camp, I took a hike to the North Head lighthouse. It was a beautiful trek through gorgeous coastal forest (humongous Sitka Spruce!) though the trail was way too muddy. The 1.5 mile trek took longer than I expected, but the lighthouse and view of the Pacific worth it.

Not wanting to take the trail back, and it was getting dark, so I hitched a ride back to camp. And no more than a quarter-mile down the road, we saw a bear. Wow! And whew. I didn't see any warning signs about bears, but I had a feeling there might be some present. In fact, I instinctually made noise on my hike, something I picked up from hiking in the Rockies. Who knows, maybe it saved me from stumbling onto one on the trail?

I returned to camp, made dinner amongst the Mosquitos, took a quick walk to Waikiki Beach, and turned in for the night.

The numbers:
40.4 miles
11.0 mph average speed
3:40 saddle time

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