Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fort to Sea Trail

Blogger is killing me

I am not sure what is going on with Blogger. But as I was jotting some thoughts down, it suddenly published. A couple of posts ago, blogger published while I was doing laundry. I had checked the time stamp to see if I had done it expectantly and saw that I was not even online at the time.
I deleted the last post and decided to start over and see if I could do it right this time. Here we go again.
  We had been riding our mountain bikes near Fort Clatsop and came upon the Fort to Sea Trail.  Since part of the trail allowed bikes, we rode up to the Overlook 2 miles up the path. 
It was so much fun that we did it twice. We were then committed to trek the entire 6.5 miles of the trail once our curiosity got the best of us.
After Lewis and Clark's Corps built Fort Clatsop, they began exploring the land nearby. The Fort To Sea Trail winds its way through the woods south of Fort Clatsop to Sunset Beach on the Pacific Ocean, covering land that once was home to the Clatsop Indians who helped the Corps.

Oops, we had to turn around. We decided this part was hiking only. Good try Mike.

They say you can see the ocean from here. I only saw clouds both times we got to the lookout. We did hear the ocean waves crashing as we hiked down the canyon 5 miles away.
At times it reminded us of hiking in Costa Rica but much cooler.


Mike is tired of looking at this North Face hiking top I have had for 16 years. It was made from recycled plastic. After one of our hikes, he took me to the Helly Hansen store and instructed me to find a lightweight fleece and buy it. Then he suggested that I get rid of the old fleece that had gotten pretty short on me. As you can see in the picture below, I still have it. When you find a hiking top that keeps you comfortable in lots of conditions, it is hard to let it go. Even if it looks wrong. It is a process and I am working on it.
Enough about my shirt. We reached the top of the Ridge again and took the Kwis Kwis Trail back down which had a lot more ups and downs than the Fort to Sea Trail but not hard at all.
We descended through deep woods and reach wooded pasture dotted with small lakes. The wooded pasture leads to the crossing tunnel under U.S. Highway 101 and near Camp Rilea.


The coastal mountains on a sunshiny day.

We did the trail over three days since we weren't sure what to expect in a 10 mile hike with an out and back. The two hiking days were each 5 miles round trip due to the limited parking options. We had to hike some of the section twice but that was just fine. We tried one road marked with a trailhead sign that took us through potholes into a sketchy looking area. We opted against that parking place, made our way back  to the Presbyterian Church which had a sign welcoming hikers except on Sunday mornings. Thanks to them.  

 Some people park a car at each end of the trail and hike through. Others call a cab to meet them at one end and take them back to their cars.

 The trail runs through farm land that is fenced on both sides. It amazed us the amount of cooperation it had to take  between the land owners and forest service for this to get done.

 This stretch of the trail marks the beginning of sandy soil and gentle dunes and leads into beach woods before arriving at the Sunset Beach/Fort to Sea Trail parking lot.
 The 1-mile path to the beach.

This well maintained trail had so much diversity to enjoy with lots of birds singing just adding to the experience. The forest service has put a lot of work and money into this great trail.

Back to the not so hard job of selling wood and visiting with campers in the evening.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Checking out the local sites

We liked it!

 We are packing up to move to our next Oregon State Park. Volunteering as hosts at Fort Stevens State Park and having a month to savor the area has been better than we had hoped. April is a quiet time of year in the campground until Friday afternoons. The families roll in. People look so happy to be here and can't wait to start their campfires. Even though our hours are 4-8pm, we open the wood shed if they ask. The kids are always so excited to start a fire and roast a marshmallow. The dads look proud as they haul away their bundle of wood.

One evening, we heard a knock at our door. A couple had locked themselves out of their cabin. Mike was walking with them to the visitors center to get the master key when I remembered that the rangers were still on duty. I called the ranger's station and asked them to let them in. Things are pretty quiet here in the evening. If not, call the ranger.

Warrenton Waterfront Path

The Warrenton Waterfront Trail near where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean in northwestern Oregon makes for an easy and interesting bike ride along the water.

The trail has views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the large ships passing underneath it, and the pilot boats and helicopters guiding them through this treacherous stretch of the Columbia.

For a longer, more challenging ride, we would head to the hilly Lewis and Clark Road between Astoria and Gerhart near Seaside through the green countryside.

Warrenton Park Lighthouse Museum with a huge whale spear at the end of the path.

High Gravity Ziplining

Our stop at High Gravity Ziplining in Astoria had a great restaurant and fire pit. We were getting hungry and some great chili and beer bread was is order before jumping back on our bikes.

 This zip tour starts at a treehouse, travels across multiple zip lines, traverses a sky bridge, zips high over a beautiful valley.We watched a family as they zipped across the lake, dipping the 10 year old boy into the water as he neared the end.
Since ziplining in Costa Rica and Hawaii on much larger ziplines in the past, we opted out on this one.

Heading to Washington for the day

We took the 4 mile bridge across the Columbia River to checkout Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and State Park that we could see across the river.

Yep, we are walking up there.

We climbed the path to the lighthouse which also had a Coast guard lookout. The lookout door happened to be ajar. As I walked to see what was inside, a seamen was also walking up to the open door, being a gentleman he stepped back to let us through first and then invited
us to go in (since it looked like we were going in anyway). He explained that they were monitoring a crew practicing rescue activities and let us look through the telescope. We visited a bit then They thanked Mike for his service in the Air Force and he thanked them for theirs. They shut the Authorized Personnel only door behind us as we left. Oops, it all worked out.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

It is estimated that 2000 ships and hundreds of lives have been lost along the stretch of the coast from Oregon to British Columbia.

The local herd of elk around the campground making their morning rounds.

Riding some singletrack

The paved paths are quite nice to walk or ride our bikes on. But the single track through the woods is great. We were checking out a trail through the forest and were having such a great time as we reached the road and turned around to go back in, there was a sign posted stating the area was closed for forest cutting. Once again, we were in a restricted area. Fortunately, no tree fell as we passed through the area. We took the road in the direction that we thought home was and made it back. Oops, it worked out again.

Our walks and bike rides each day were real treats.

Easter clam hunting

We learned the ins and outs of razor clamming. Each person must carry their own bag with a limit of 15. The metal diggers are better than PVC and can be rented for $10 a tide at the KOA across the street. These fellows are looking for the divot in the sand showing where the clams are tunneling down at low tide.

Razor clams,  I am thinking chowder.

You have to be fast to get the buggers. They extend their diggers and pull themselves deeper into the sand.
Lots of people coming and going on the beach at a negative low tide.


The Astoria Riverwalk is the best way to get a feel for the city. We started exploring at the Port of Astoria with hundreds of ships from all over the world walking along under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, while watching river otters swim and glide.

 This  bridge across the Columbia River connects Astoria in Oregon and Point Ellice in Washington located about 14 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River.

 Standing 600 feet above sea level, the Astoria Column offers a spectacular view of the city, the Columbia River and Young’s Bay. A hand-painted frieze that spirals around the column and would be 500 feet if unwound.
The visitor's center has balsa wood gliders for visitors to purchase and send sailing from the top of the column in the breeze.  Kids were timing their flights, while the glider would float and turn, at over a minute before going down the stairs to recover their gliders and back up and do it again.

One time up was probably more than enough for a few adults. At one point, I thought a person might need CPR before they got to the top.
164 steps to the top.

View from the top.

Goonies Tour

From Kindergarten Cop to Short Circuit, Oregon’s North Coast has been host to a number of  80s and 90s films, but only one has gained cult status: The Goonies, A group of young misfits who call themselves The Goonies discover an ancient map and set out on a quest to find a legendary pirate's long-lost treasure. A favorite of my kids growing up and as we are finding out, many others of a certain age. We made the rounds to see some of the sights and signs along Astoria's streets.

This is for you, Krista.

Back at the Fort, I am not sure is this fellow is a determined fisherman or just crazy.  Another fisherman on the South Jetty can't be seen here because of the splash of the waves.

Watching kids in the outdoors is a hoot. Little kids without many restrictions riding their bikes for hours must go to bed pretty tired at night. We watched two 14 year old girls spend an entire day on their bike and skateboard towing each other with a rope even as the sun was setting.
Not sure how we would like volunteer hosting, we are so glad we gave it a shot. Starting in a slower off season as "Wood Hosts" was a good introduction. We are trying out positions in different Oregon State Parks this summer and can definitely see ourselves doing this for some time in the future, allowing us to take in the area a little at a time while contributing a little bit.. The "bennies" of a campsite aren't bad either. Who knew there were so many different types of hosting?

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