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Coastal Contemplations Index

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Coast Tour 2016 day 12 - yrs trly at Heceta Head Lighthouse

yr humble narrator at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Coastal Contemplations index
In June 2016 I spent two weeks touring on the Pacific Coast.  A leisurely tour, the emphasize was on the scenery, the environments and contemplation.  As usual I blogged the tour here as it went on the links of which I have collected here. Additionally I took over a thousand photos on this tour and a selection of these from each day have been uploaded to Flickr.  Links to each days photos are included here along with each days report.

day 1: Seattle to Twanoh State Park – report, pictures
day 2: Twanoh State Park to Lake Sylvia State Park – report, pictures
day 3: Lake Sylvia State Park to Cape Disappointment State Park – reportpictures

day 4: Cape Disappointment State Park, WA to Astoria, OR – reportpictures
day 5: Astoria to Nehalem Bay State Park- reportpictures
day 6: Nehalem Bay State Park – reportpictures
day 7: Nehalem Bay State Park to Cape Lookout State Park – reportpictures
day 8: Cape Lookout State Park – reportpictures
day 9: Cape Lookout State Park to Beverly Beach State Park – reportpictures
day 10: Beverly Beach State Park – reportpictures
day 11: Beverly Beach State Park to Beachside State Park – reportpictures
day 12: Beachside State Park to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park – reportpictures
day 13: Umpqua Lighthouse State Park to Honeyman State Park – reportpictures
day 14: Umpqua Lighthouse State Park to Eugene – reportpictures
day 15: Eugene, OR to Seattle, WA  – reportpictures

Tour photo album on Flickr: Coastal Contemplations

Coastal Contemplations day 15

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Amtrak Cascade train captured on a stop in Portland

Amtrak Cascade train captured on a stop in Portland

in beads of dew
one by one
my home village


all things must pass
I made one last stop in The Whit at the New Day Bakery – which was great – before I made my way to the Amtrak Station. This being the beginning of the Amtrak Cascades route the train was ready and waiting for me. I pulled off my bicycle bags and helped the porter left it into the baggage car. I found a seat with a table where I would spend the next seven hours.

amidst blue skies
clouds obscure The Mountain —
traveling northwards
It was a fine day with cloud strewn skies and plenty to watch as the train made its way north: Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens and finally Mount Rainier.  When I finally got off the train and reattached my bags it was late afternoon. It felt good to do even the short ride home after seven hours on the train.  Back home I unloaded the bicycle, put everything way, cleaned up and cooked some dinner. As the sun set over the city long spine-like clouds lit up with dark purples, reds and oranges. Tomorrow is the first day of summer.
the sinking sun
lights clouds on fire —
last day of spring

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 5

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Seastack on the Oregon Coast

Seastack on the Oregon Coast

watching the downpour
under a temple


sometimes it pours
I lingered in Astoria having breakfast out, relishing supplies, finishing my coffee. The skids were cloudy, but streaked with blue and it was warm when the sun worked its way through the cracks.  I made my way out of town the same way I came in, following the waterfront trail.  At the Astoria Bridge the route makes a nice gentle climb into the hills above the downtown. The hills behind Astoria is the classic Astoria, old houses perched on the edge of the hill, trees, winding roads. Great route through here.

Old pair below the Astoria Bridge

Away from Astoria now the route cut a diagonal across farmland then into forested hills. Once again a great bit of riding, though plenty of reminders that Oregon too has its share of clearcuts.  It began to sprinkle and sensing this would last I pulled off under a tree and put on rain gear. It became pretty steady showers for a time but then faded away and the sun was out again. There was plenty of ups and downs in this route but it followed a creek most of the way and was in the woods and I enjoyed the break for the traffic. All too soon with a long cold descent I was back on 101 at Seaside.

blue cracks in the clouds
a sudden shower —
late spring

Now it was mostly 101 along the coast for the rest of the day. There was a brief jaunt down to Cannon Beach where I, along with the throngs of tourists, got my first solid sighting of the Oregon Coast. Even on this grey day plenty of people were frolicking on the sandy beaches.  The weather was odd though – wind out of the southwest which is very unusual and the clouds further away looked much darker. I sensed a storm coming on. So I soon returned to road.

driving winds, stinging rains
head down, keep on moving

This section of the coast is particularly scenic as the road is right on the edge and it ascends on big rocky outcropping a so you can really look out into the distance. Seastacks stud the coastline adding their mysterious facade to the beaches and waters.  The winds though picked up and then the rains began. It would go from sprinkles to a heavy downpour sometimes with driving headwinds. Nothing I could do but press on. There is a good long climb before Manzanita and then a long descent which is particularly soaking and at last I reached the turnoff for Nehalem Bay State Park.

water dripping off
the thin stand of trees
sparkles in the setting sun

In thin drizzle now, I set up my tent and cooked dinner. Never was I so happy for Oregon State Parks free showers.  As I cleaned up after dinner the clouds broke up and the sun shone through. The setting sun painted the scattered clouds brilliant pinks and purples.

beyond the grey clouds
white clouds
looming in the distance
black clouds

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Rockaway Beach, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 4

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
Astoria Bridge on the Columbia River

Astoria Bridge on the Columbia River

the ants’ road
from peaks of clouds
to here


a short ride over a long bridge

A grey morning, cooler and every so often brief periods of sprinkles. Today I’d cross the Astoria Bridge to OR and I decided that I would stay the night in Astoria.  I haven’t really spent much time in that town though I’ve been through several times. So with a short ride ahead I was able to linger at Cape Disappointment State Park.  I rode up to the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center and hiked out to the Lighthouse.  The fishing fleet was out and bet when the slate grey skies and water there would be black spouts of diesel exhaust.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

After noon I decided to make my way to Astoria.  You descend from the park hugging the coast into Illwaco. Then it’s a stretch on 101 through farmland and wetlands. Back on the coast the hwy is right on the shore of the Columbia.  Soon the bridge looms large.  The last time I crossed the bridge there was a good storm and it wasn’t much fun. This time just a pretty miles crosswind. There is a very narrow shoulder which has a lot of debris in it and an inordinate amount of dead birds.  There was also some work being done on the bridge and there was a flagged on the climb out. They had me go last and while I enjoyed the traffic free stretch it was a stiff climb that I felt pressured to sprint up.

as I put on my coat
the sun comes out —
late spring

Descending from the heights of the bridge I was now in Astoria.  It is the beginning of “Fleet Week” and there were sailors in their dress whites all over town. Apparently they will be here in force this weekend.  But you’d see little groups of them going in and out of all the bars and shops. I wandered around town before retiring to the Norblad Hotel And Hostel.

grey skies meet
at grey waters…
scattered drops of rain

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Astoria, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 3

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Lake Sylvia

Lake Sylvia

in the depths of the lake
billowing clouds


wind and water
The day dawned grey and cool – a relief after the heat of the last few days. It would break up as the day progressed, leading to blue skies streaked with trails of clouds.  I had many miles to ride this day almost all of it on the highways.  I worked my way up long hills and rolled down the other side, through trees and clearcuts under clearing skies.

in the clearcuts
a profusion of purple flowers

The wind was coming off the coast but not too strong in the morning and diffused by the trees and hills.  The mornings are always so pleasant, which feels like a secret.  With a long descent I came to the logging town of Raymond which I mostly skirted on the Wiliapia Hills trail.

Mudflat outside of Raymond

Outside of Raymond

Now Google Maps took me off hwy 101 onto a road that I assumed cut off a a corner of the coast route.  As I passed this group of people going downhill I thought I heard them yelling at me.  But I wasn’t sure so kept moving. Then the pavement ended. What trouble has Google Maps gotten me in to now?  Well I dig riding gravel roads so I pressed on.  Shortly a guy rides up to me on an ATV and says that I don’t want to go this way. “You’ll lose a couple of tires ” he said. “It’s about 10 miles all up and down the terrain worse than this. You’re welcome  to try it” he said. Well this is what the NFE is for, so I pressed on. It was definitely rough at spots but really I’ve been on a lot worse forest roads. It was actually really nice to be able to practice some fully loaded touring on gravel roads.  This ended up being my favorite section of riding on this day: In the woods, nice and cool, one car the whole time.  All too soon I descended out of the woods into an estuary and climbed up to 101.

harried by crows
a hawk flies
right next to me

Now it was just 101 to Cape Disappointment.  Rolling Hills, strong wind off the coast which was sometimes with me sometimes against me as I rode around inlets and over streams.  It was clouding up and cooling down a bit. At one point I heard a single clap of thunder and felt a few sprinkles.  I was tiring now and could feel the effect of the miles, but as I approached Long Beach I got a second wind.

Pacific Coast

First sighting of the Pacific Coast

The route took me to the beach at Seaview and onto the Discovery Trail. Now I’d ridden on this trail last time I was hear but this section was new. It ran in the sea grass right along the beach all the way to Beards Hollow and then on to North Head Lighthouse. Well this is basically a trail to the park and when it turned to North Head I returned to the road and it was just a couple of Ks to Cape Disappointment State Park. I was happy to be here.

grey morning
blue afternoon
grey evening

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Ilwaco, Washington, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 2

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016
Hood Canal at dawn

Hood Canal at dawn

dawn’s glow
even more of a wonder…
willow tree


waiting to exhale

I woke at dawn and looking out the door of my tent saw the eastern colors reflecting off the canal and touching the clouds with color. A deep contentment filled me and I sat in for long moments in reflecton.

soft colors of dawn
reflected on still waters
a fish leaps

I was up early so even with my usual lingering in camp I was on the road earlier than normal. It was already over 70 degrees (f) and the day was just getting started. I had to backtrack a bit and it was just so lovely riding along the canal in this still morning. Less traffic, less sounds, the waters calm, the light still that magic glow of the sun not being directly overhead.

Olympic Mountains beyond Hood Canal

Olympic Mountains beyond Hood Canal

Turning south on Trails Rd.  I was back on route. And it began with a seriously steep climb.  Right into the woods though and the coolness of the air was very welcome. Thus continued as I wound around Lake Mason and it was during this part of the ride that it happened.  Every tour, usually on day two, I just let out this deep exhalation and let everything else go. It is just touring now. This is the moment that brings me back to touring.

a moment
dancing with butterflies —
alone again

The route went through Shelton where I acquired lunch and dinner supplies and then it climbed up onto this ridge and every so gently descended all the way to sea level. But it was hot now and out of the trees and a wind picked up strengthening as I approached the coast.  I was happy to finally reach Lake Sylvia State Park, even with the strap climb up!  There are a pair of hiker/biker sites here and one was occupied. I took the other and had a pleasant evening on the lake.

lost in frog song —
late spring

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Montesano, Washington, United States.

A Rainy, Winter Ride

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Rainy Winter Ride - Rain

As I noted in my Solstice Ride post, I’d set out with the thought of walking along the shore and making some coffee (or tea) in the out of doors.  That did’t end up happening as my wandering nature got the best of me and the lure of exploring new territory proved stronger.  With the weather predicted to turn clear and much colder over the next week, plus frankly I’ve been feeling a bit sedentary these days, I set out yesterday amidst heavy clouds, wind and threatened rain on a second attempt at making coffee out of doors.

Rainy Winter Ride - Looking back at Seattle from Mercer Island

I’ve been contemplating taking part in an organized ride (!) next year that begins in the AM in Redmond so I thought I’d ride there and gauge the miles and and time that would require. But the straight shot there isn’t super scenic so I decided I’d ride to and around the east side of Lake Sammamish. There I’d be able to stop at the park and make my coffee.

Rainy Winter Ride - North Fork of Issaquah Creek

There were gashes of blue sky amidst the layers of grey clouds and low black clouds blowing in on the wind. This rainy weather coming in was warmer, if not warm, and the hilly route over Mercer Island kept me warm enough. Exiting Mercer Island I continued on the I-90 Trail to Issaquah. Here I encountered Lake Sammamish State Park, but decided I’d stop a bit further on, on the east side of the lake. From Issaquah I was able to hop on the East Lake Sammamish Trail which pretty quickly took me to the Lake Sammamish State Park and boat launch where I’d planned to stop. But there were no picnic tables there so I decided to press on to Marymoor park.

Rainy Winter Ride - North Fork of Issaquah Creek, detail

Back on the trail, which is newly paved inside Issaquah city limits, but the moment you cross into the city of Sammamish it reverts to the old hard packed gravel. At which point I returned to the road. I hadn’t been on the road long when I saw a cyclist pushing his ride up from the trail and he yelled out to me. I looped around a turned out he had a flat and had neglected to bring 5mm allen wrench to remove his front wheel. I of course had my multi-tool and helped him out. He was a pretty fast tire changer so it wasn’t that long before I was back on the road.

Rainy Winter Ride - Waiting out the rain in Marymoor Park

Following the edge of a lake the road has it’s ups and downs. The wind had shifted too, so what had been a cross/tail wind was now more of a head wind. But I was in trees enough that the wind wasn’t much of a problem, but it had blown in low, dark grey clouds and as I pulled into Marymoor Park, it was quite dark, though still an hour and half before sunset. I wanted to make my coffee on the lake so I made an executive decision that I’d ride a loop around Lake Sammamish and make my coffee at Idylwood Park just on the west side of lake. But as I pulled into the main parking area of Marymoor park the skies open up and a real downpour began. I rode to the park concession building which had large eves. There were two other cyclists sheltering there along with a couple arguing in Russian. We all waited out the worst of the downpour but set off one by one as it slackened.

Rainy Winter Ride - Sunset over Lake Washington

At this point I abandoned my plans to ride around the lake – not a bad road but in twilight and pouring rain I figured a more direct route was advisable. Plus I ended up taking that direct route I had wanted to judge the timing of. This route follows the 520 Trail to the outskirts of Bellevue and then takes more out of the way roads to where it intersects with the Lake Washington Loop route which then connects to the I-90 trail. During this ride the rain slowed and there was just showers on and off for most of the rest of the way. I was about to cross onto Mercer Island the sun set and through gaps in the clouds at the horizon I could see the orange, purple and yellow glow.

Rainy Winter Ride - Atlantis on Lake Washington

I was back on the I-90 trail and simply reversed my earlier route across Mercer Island and then onto the Beacon Hill Greenway. It was after five pm, just fully dark and my odometer ticked over to 41 miles as I rolled to my front door. Once again I failed in my making coffee out of doors, but it was a satisfying ride on a gloomy winter day.

Check out my photos from this ride on Flickr.

Posted from Bellevue, Washington, United States.

October Overnighter

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Autumn Overnighter - Shrouded Rainier

Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds

Since returning from tour I haven’t had a lot of chances to get out in the (nearly) always beautiful PNW Autumn.  My bicycle needed a bunch of work and it took getting into a new place and emptying out my storage unit to have the necessary tools. Then a visit to family out of state took me away during prime early October weather.  On my return – just last Thursday – it looked like persistent rain had moved in early.  Well that forecast changed and it was looking to be just overcast on Saturday clearing up in the evening, with Sunday being mostly clear with temps reaching the low 70s (F).  Reading this post from Cliff Mass I saw that the lows had been unseasonably high and thus I decided an overnighter was in order.
Autumn Overnighter - Ready to ride.

Atlantis - ready to ride

I had decided to embark on this trip pretty late and I did have a couple of final tasks to complete on the bicycle. In the above picture you can see my Atlantis as set out. Since returning from tour I have replaced the Shifters, the pedals, the middle chainring, the chain and the rear derailleur. This morning I replaced the cassette and the rear tire and I was ready to go. Since this was just an overnighter I only needed two meals and a few pieces of off bicycle clothes, so I was able to pack as minimally as possible. In the saddlebag (a Grant Peterson top 5!) I have my sleeping back, inflatable pillow, Trangia cook set, rain gear and the off bicycle clothes. In the basket I have my air mattress and my Grab Sack (another top 5!) with my camera, journal, iPad Mini and such in it. In my Hobo Bag (best h’bar bag ever) I stuffed in my toiletries and food bag. Strapped on the back rack is my tent with the poles along the top tube. Pretty amazing how light a load camping requires for just one night.
Autumn Overnighter - Clearing up

clearing up

It had rained that morning but by mid-afternoon the clouds were breaking up. I had decided to camp at Fay Bainbridge Park on Bainbridge Island. This is the closest campground to Seattle and it’s really close – I rode 12 miles to the campground. This has it’s positive side – I left around 2:30 and on a day when it is dark by 6:30 that meant I was able to setup and cook while it was still light. Of course I would prefer a bit more of a ride when I have more time, but there is no reason one could ride clockwise around the Island from the ferry terminal and get in those miles. But on this day the late departure, plus the ferry trip and 7-8 miles on the island worked out just fine.
Autumn Overnighter - Camping in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

The campground has an upper area with walk-in camping and a lower area with sites under the hill and along the beach. There is an electronic pay station down there where I paid for the hiker/biker site, a reasonable US$7. I then proceeded to ride around for half an hour trying to find said h/b site. I never did. I did an internet search and found via Google Books a map of the park which indicated that the h/b area was in the walk in area. As there was no-one camping up there (there was about half a dozen campers on the beach) I just took a space up there. This was a good deal as I was able to utilize the covered picnic tables for cooking. I setup, cooked, and by the time I cleaned up it was pretty dark. I took a cup of green tea to the beach and sat there in the glow from Seattle listened to the gentle surf and the rumble of the passing ferries.

a creaking frog,
the bobbing glow of eyes,
this misty autumn night

Autumn Overnighter - Morning in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

I slept late and took my time making breakfast and packing up and then headed down to the beach. It was a lovely morning with blue skies streaked by torn up clouds. Pretty windy too, with stiff gusts of wind. Since I had left late and took the short route here my plan was to ride around the island before heading home. I’ve ridden Bainbridge plenty of times, but usually (mostly) follow the Chilly Hilly route which circles the island, staying on roads that can support 7000+ cyclists. But on this day I started following Dan Henry’s on the road in the shape of a pie and green arrows painted on the road. These routes took me on narrower roads that dove down to the water and then right back up, across the island and through Fort Ward Park.
Autumn Overnighter - Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

It was such a lovely autumn day, with big gusts of wind blowing leaves all over the road. I finally accomplished something I wanted to do for a long time: I caught a falling leaf while riding alone. A big gust of wind blew a bunch of leaves toward me and without thought I just reached out and caught a large blowing right by me. The Dan Henry’s wended a route on and off the Chilly Hilly route so I saw the usual landmarks: Port Madison, the Bainbridge Island Frog, many views of the Puget Sound and of course mostly took me on the great Bainbridge Island side roads.
Autumn Overnighter - Cormorants all in a row

Cormorants all in a row.

The Dan Henry’s eventually took me on this climb up the middle of the Island and then wound down to Lynnwood which had really been built up since last I was here. I had lunch at the Treehouse Cafe there, a location where I have many times had an ice cream cone but never actually stopped for lunch. Well the food was good and while I had a sandwich it looks like they make a good pizza as well. I walked around Lynnwood a bit checking out all the new shops and restaurants before rejoining the Chilly Hilly Route for a stretch. The Dan Henry’s pretty quickly took me off the route and I ended up riding through Fort Ward – completely new territory for me. Well this former military fort, now a small park right along the edge of the island allows one to ride a bit more along the water. Especially if you continue onto South Beach road after the park.
Autumn Overnighter - Heading up Toe Jam Road. Painted on the road: "Good Luck"

Heading up Toe Jam Hill Road.

Riding the narrow road right on the edge of the island is quite scenic and with the wind blowing out of the south, a nice ride. Of course you do then have to ride up Toe Jam Hill which was by far the steepest hill I’ve ridden on Bainbridge. There are longer hills and plenty of pretty steep hills, but this one took the cake. As you rounded the curve pictured above painted on the road was “Good Luck”. I did make it up the steeped, cracked pavement and after a bit more time on the heavily wooded Toe Jam Road, I turned onto Country Club road which took me back to the Chilly Hilly route which I’d follow for the rest of the day.

One of my favorite spots on Bainbridge Island, is this memorial park with a Tibetan Prayer Wheel. As always I stopped and spun the wheel and took in this peaceful spot. But after leaving the park I rode steadily back, along the Chilly Hilly route primarily, back to Eagle Harbor and the ferry. I needed to be back home before six and while there was still plenty of riding I could have done on Bainbridge, not to mention the quaint little town of Winslow which I’ve never really explored, I headed straight to the ferry terminal. Of course I did end up waiting a bit for the next boat, but I enjoyed the waning day and being on the water. The ride back featured stunning views of a cloud enshrouded Mt. Rainier, big fluffy clouds hovering over the Seattle cityscape and many sailboats out enjoying this windy, beautiful autumn day.
Autumn Overnighter - Clouds Over Seattle

Clouds Over Seattle.

Check out all of my pictures on Flickr: Autumn Overnighter.

Posted from Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States.

Tour without a goal – 1 September 2014

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

On Amtrak near Stellacoom

Bottle in hand,
I climb out on this great rock.
Since Heaven and Earth began
it’s stood a thousand feet above the water.
I raise my cup and smile at the sky,
and the Heavens whirl until the sun shines out of the West!
I could sit here on this rock forever! hanging my hook
    like the wise men of old.
At least I’ll send this to those who came before me here:
may the music I make, make harmony with yours.
-Li Po

Day 60
After a fairly fitful night sleeping on my coach seat on the train, I spent the rest of this day riding up to Tacoma. Sunrise was a bit past 6am and in the pre-dawn light we moved on the western side of Mt. Shasta. From this angle the mountain looked spare and barren as when I rode past it’s southern extents but there are a few more glaciers visible on this side. As the sun rose this was quite a striking scene. I ended up having breakfast and lunch in the dining car and there they fill every table with guests. On the border with Oregon the train takes one valley over than the one I rode down on and it was a lush wetland and lakes fed by Klamath Lake. Whereas the valley I’d ridden down was dry, barren and almost desert-like. Water, the staff of life. North of Klamath Falls was some really stunning scenery as the train rode high up on a valley wall over trestles and through tunnels. The valley was filled with trees and the far walls were craggy cliffs. Further on it went to the east of Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters – neat to see stuff from the tour from this perspective. However best part of the Coast Starlight IMO is from Olympia to Washington.

down from the mountains
only mountains of the mind remain
like dragonflies over water

From Olympia the train cuts across the Nisqually Valley and actually onto the coast. I don’t know if it does much travel on the Coast in CA before San Francisio but this is the only section actually along the open water, albeit the Puget Sound, from that point on. The sun is always setting in this section as the train comes up in the summer and as you pass Anderson, McNeil and Fox Islands the sun was sinking toward the water. Finally after 26 hours on the train it pulled into Tacoma Station right on time. I had to get off at Tacoma because as far as I can tell only three WA stops have baggage service: Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle. Happily my bicycle came through all right and with no hassles (especially as I hadn’t taken off the pedals as they require) and I very quickly straightened the handlebars and minimally strapped things on to ride the couple blocks to the bus station. There I had a few minutes to re-combobulate the bicycle a bit more and catch the bus to Lakewood where I managed to catch the last bus to Olympia. I can’t say how happy I was to see that that bus didn’t have a full bicycle carrier! Finally just around 9pm I was back in Olympia, exactly 60 days after I left.

beyond the vast expanse
the fiery sun sets
behind jagged hills

This was been a great tour with achingly beautiful scenery the whole way. I’m so happy I did it and now as autumn approaches, my favorite season, I’m happy to be back in the Pacific NW. Over the next days and weeks I hope to write a post-mortem and get some pictures uploaded. Stay tuned for all of that. Thanks to all who’ve read my attempts to capture this trip. I know I couldn’t do it justice and I hope that I at least gave an impression of it.

walking alone in the darkness
light pouring out of windows
one foot after the other

Posted from Olympia, Washington, United States.

Tour without a goal – 22 July 2014

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


A long hard journey,
rain beating down the clover
like a wanderer’s feet

riding the PCT to OR
It began to sprinkle as I retired to my tent last night and by morning was a full on downpour. Listening to the tapping of rain on the tent as I lie enveloped in warmth is always a pleasure. Less so is packing up and heading out in the rain. I was riding on hwy 14 right in the Columbia River gorge and within a few miles on this well trafficked twisty road the rain stopped. A few more miles on and I was at Stevenson where I gratefully had my morning coffee. I was looking haggard enough after days in the mountains and riding in the rain that the proprietress of the coffee shop asked if I’d been hiking The Trail. Not quite.

damp and bedraggled from the rain
– daisies line my path

A few miles down the road I turn east a ride over the Bridge of the Gods, a striking steel girder bridge over the Columbia, and I’m in Oregon. This is also the only stretch of the Sierra Cascade route that actually overlaps with the Pacific Crest Trail so I have now ridden on the PCT.


I left the route at this point and rode the Historic Columbia River Highway into Portland. I was meeting Shawn of Urban Adventure League fame on this road and would stay with him for a couple of days in Portland. The HCRH begins with an isolated car free section that winds through woods and over stone bridges and with scenic overlooks onto the Columbia River. After a few miles it merges with route 30 and passes three major waterfalls, hiking trails, scenic viewpoints and campgrounds. It began to pour as I rode through this section especially during a series of switchbacks up to Crown Point where I was meeting Shawn at Vista House.


Vista House was well named and while it was cloudy and raining when I arrived after spending some time there drying off it began to clear up. Spectacular views down the Columbia River Valley and of the patchwork green hills across the river. Of course on the descent the rain returned harder than ever and it was back on with the rain gear. We decided a break was in order and pulled off at the McMinimins in Troutdale which was well received all around. By the time we left it had stopped raining and the sky was this rich scattered foam with daubs of blue sky showing through all backlit and glowing in the dwindling sunlight. Shawn took us on the scenic route along the Columbia River before we navigated back roads to his house in Portland. Happy to be here as I need a bit of downtime and much thanks to Shawn (and his roommate) for the hospitality. Also check out Shawn’s photos from his end of the trip over on Flickr.

shaving my head at a roadside stop
you have to wonder what passers by think –
a vagrant trying to get by; perhaps dangerous
no, just a pilgrim to America’s holy sites

Posted from Portland, Oregon, United States.