They were REAL campers. You might know them better as Lewis and Clark.
A few weeks before I embarked on this journey, I watched Ken Burn's documentary on Lewis and Clark. It was simply fascinating to listen to what they endured on their 1 1/2 year camping trip.
"Ocian in view! O! the joy."
A note on the spelling of "Ocian"
When Capt. William Clark wrote these words in his journal on November 7, 1805, he was not standing at the Pacific Ocean but the Columbia River estuary. It would be another couple of weeks before he and Capt. Meriwether Lewis would stand at what they had "been so long anxious to see." By then they had traveled more than 4,000 miles across the North American continent with a contingent of 31 explorers, mostly U.S. Army enlisted men, known as the Corps of Discovery.
Within 10 days of arriving on the coast, Lewis and Clark decided to leave their storm-bound camp on the north shore and cross the river, where elk were reported to be plentiful. Lewis, with a small party, scouted ahead and found a "most eligible" site for winter quarters. On December 10, 1805, the men began to build a fort about two miles up the Netul River (now Lewis and Clark River). By Christmas Day they were under shelter. They named the fort for the friendly local Indian tribe, the Clatsop. It would be their home for the next three months.
Step into the Fort Clatsop replica, at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, and you'll get a real sense of what the Corps of Discovery experienced more than 200 years ago. It looks, smells, and feels pretty much the same. In peak visitor season, rangers in buckskins, offer demonstrations such as muzzle loading and shooting, hide tanning and candle making.
Here is a peek inside some of the rooms.
I walked down a trail to the historic canoe landing area. It felt awesome to be hiking the same path Lewis and Clark did over 200 years ago.
You know me, I cannot resist weird looking furry plant thingys.
After reluctantly leaving Fort Clatsop, I headed across the Columbia River to Cape Disappointment State Park.
If finding yourself stuck in your car on a bridge high above a river while they are doing construction gives you anxiety, do not look at the picture below.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is a joint venture between the National Park Service and the states of Oregon and Washington. The park rings the mouth of the Columbia River and stretches some 40 miles along the rugged Pacific Coast.
After missing the entrance to what was later named the Columbia River, English explorer John Meares dubbed the massive headland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean "Cape Disappointment." That was in 1788. Almost 20 years later, Capt. William Clark and members of the Corps of Discovery explored the headland in their final push to the Pacific Ocean.
Cape Disappointment State Park offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River, with old-growth forest, lakes, freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as streams and tidelands along the ocean. There are also two lighthouses, numerous hiking trails, and 231 campsites. And deer.
You can almost see the raindrops in the puddles. I drove out to the North Jetty to check out the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
It was barely visible in the storm perched way up on the cliff. I get the chills just looking at that picture. Brrr...
Anyway, I headed off to my campground with a brief stop at the North Head Lighthouse.
Fully deployed and dry. I walked down a path to the beach. It was too wet and windy to take photos, but I snapped a couple on the walk back...
OK, I may moan a little bit about the rain but then I think about what Lewis and Clark had to deal with on their journey. I can always go jump in my car and turn on the heater if I have to. They did not have that option. Watch the Ken Burns documentary if you get a chance. Fascinating.
Oh, one last thing about the rain. Everything is so GREEN!
Regards, Park Ranger