Cape Disappointment, WA – It Most Definitely Does Not…
Towards evening we arrived at Cape disapointment on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill where we had a handsom view of the ocean”
John Ordway Nov 1805
There are few places on the west coast where the threads of history and nature so intimately intertwine as right here at Cape Disappointment State Park. Our home for the past 2 weeks (can you believe it’s been 2 weeks already?) has lived up to it’s reputation of foul weather, handsome allure and tales of stories past. At times we start the day shrouded in misty fog and thunderous waves followed just a few hours later by brilliant sunshine and placid tides. The Cape is not one thing but many things blended together in an exotic stew. She is temperamental, complex and sweet all at the same time. Oh, how I love it here!
This is not my first time so enamored. We visited this very spot last year capturing some of my best beach shots of the summer. That week was enough to cement the Cape in my mind and spark the urge to return. Since we’ve been back we’ve enjoyed plentiful days of sun (well amongst a few torrents of rain, naturally) enabling us to walk the trails up the basalt cliffs and enjoy the many miles of beach on the shores. Between morning strolls on the protected cove just minutes from our RV, afternoons hikes on the trails and evening promenades along the larger beach we’ve really not had the urge to go anywhere else. Despite the fact that this is one of the most popular state parks in WA (or so they say), most of the beach and trail areas are almost completely deserted. It astounds me, but I’ve watched the sunset from 2-mile Benson Beach and been the only person there. Did I mention I loved it here?
The very fact that nature is so raw here may be part of what keeps this place so isolated. The terrifying coastline has claimed over 2,000 ships in the past 300 years earning itself the nickname of “Graveyard of the Pacific“. Weather systems are ferocious creating over 7 feet of rain in winter and 100 days of fog in summer. At the mouth of the Columbia River massive volumes of out-flowing water collide with North Pacific sea to create one of the most dangerous and challenging navigated stretches of water in the world. This lady is tough and she is NOT to be trifled with. Her superbly dangerous shores are the very reason not just one, but two lighthouses have been placed along this Cape -> the fine old Cape Disappointment Lighthouse (1856 – the oldest in WA) and our very own North Head Lighthouse (1898). It gives the Cape a special allure not seen anywhere else.
And then there’s the other history which only adds to the charm of the place. In 1805 this very spot held the marvel of Lewis and Clark who finally reached the Pacific Ocean on their difficult expedition to map the passage to the west. It was a historic moment which is recorded along several of the trails in the park dedicated to their journey as well as the most excellent Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center atop the cliffs overlooking Waikiki Beach. Interspersed amongst these pieces of history are the remains of Fort Canby, one of three fortifications developed to protect the Columbia River. Old batteries, remnants of barracks and mossy foundations are sprinkled all over the park.
Of course it helps that this is the start of the best part of the year to be here too. The Cape is green with summer, bursting with flower and wildlife is teeming everywhere. We’ve sighted baby deer, coyote’s, lizards and no end of birds. Plus we’ve been into town to buy local salmon (caught the day before…like butter baby) and snag super-fresh veggies from the three nearby Farmer’s Markets (nothing compares to the spicy tang of fresh arugula…oh my). Oh yeah, and we’ve had two sets of lovely blog readers visit too (totally forgot to take pics, sorry).
With everything there is to offer here I can only imagine the next two weeks are going to fly by. The wild nature of the Cape has us in her handsome snare and we are more than happy to surrender to her charms. Cape D as they call her, most definitely does not…..oh, and did I mention I love it here?