Almost the Whole Pacific Coast - Winter/Spring 2016 travel blog

Cape Disappointment

North Head light house

Cape Disappointment light house

North Head light house

Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment

Ilwaco market

Ilwaco harbor

local talent


On a sunny day it is hard to imagine how many people have suffered and lost their lives in this treacherous area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Some of the place names give a hint. We drove past Dismal Nitch to Cape Disappointment State Park. The park includes two lighthouses, the only spot on the coast so treacherous that it was necessary to build lighthouses within two miles of each other. Lewis and Clark spent a long uncomfortable winter here and many of the bummer place names were theirs. Cape Disappointment was named by Captain John Meares who was looking for the northwest passage and arrived here to conclude that there wasn't one. Even though L & C surely understood the magnitude of the journey they volunteered for and the risks involved, living through it was frequent painful and frightening. Today their bravery and accomplishments are honored at a variety of spots on both side of the river than comprise Lewis and Clark National Park.

We hiked to the Cape Disappointment light house and passed a coast guard station. At the lighthouse a guard member was scanning the horizon with a high power telescope. The weather looked benign to us, but that had nothing to do with how safe it was for the ships docked in the river to sail out to sea. Finally we saw two sail away. Maybe they were waiting for favorable high or low tide conditions.

Ilwaco is a cute town near Cape Disappointment and today was the first of the Saturday markets that they will have all summer. The busy harbor was a perfect backdrop for the vendor tents and local entertainers. There were easily as many shoppers at the market as residents of Ilwaco.

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