Saturday, August 13, 2016

There's More Than One Dismal Nitch!!

You may have heard when the Lewis and Clark expedition came down the Columbia River looking for the Pacific Ocean, they got stuck in a few places due to weather.  At one point, they gave up, pulled to the side and camped in the rocks.  Unable to get out, they were forced to hold up while the rain, wind and waves pummeled them for six long days.

With no food and continual freezing cold rain, they were in dire straits.  It's interesting to note that the local Indians paddled over in their canoes and sold the men dried salmon to eat, then paddled on off to their warm, dry huts.  In his notebook, Clark stated it was the most dismal little nitch they had ever encountered.  Thus the name stuck.
Crossing North from Astoria, turn right at the stoplight and continue around the corner to a Rest Stop.    Watch for oncoming traffic as you pull in because it goes both ways here.  It's not your typical rest stop!!  The views are pretty spectacular with the Astoria-Kegler bridge in the distance.

I didn't actually know this was Dismal Nitch ... I just pulled over for the pictures.  It was THEN I saw the sign ... Dismal Nitch Trail.  Gosh .... you can walk there?  Off I went, camera in hand.  This isn't very well marked, truth be told, but just keep walking along the waters edge going back West.  
Don't worry about all those cars and trucks as you get close to the highway ... there's a concrete barrier between you and them.  Keep walking and voila!!  There's a little park!  Who knew this was here??  It's actually very nice ... totally deserted ... and the views are even better than at the rest stop.
There's a beautiful bronze monument that would probably be destroyed if anyone knew it was here ... I mean really, how many people would go wandering around a rest stop?  Luckily it can't be seen unless you enter the little park.  
I love this one because it shows York, the African slave and Seaman, the Newfoundland dog.  Did you know they performed surgery on Seaman's leg after a beaver bite?  At one point he was even stolen by Indians, so Lewis threatened to kill the entire tribe.  Seaman was returned to them.  He's the only animal that made the entire trip.
At any rate, continue on along the water's edge on the now dirt path and you will come to the actual Dismal Nitch where they weathered the storm.  They were SO close and yet SO far away from the Pacific Ocean.  It must be a good spot because there were lots of geese.
Pilings are everywhere in this area, mostly from salmon fishing and canning facilities long gone.  Eventually the weather lightened up and they made their way around the mountain to the West of the bridge, where they set up Station Camp and began their explorations.  You can also visit Station Camp, right next to the big blue church.
If you wander a little further East on the highway, you will come to Boat Launch #18.  Barely a wide spot on the road, there is actually a short concrete ramp that doesn't even come close to the water.  Turn right and you'll find the water's edge amid a ton of old pilings.  It's a great place to watch the fishermen or have a picnic.  There were two small boat trailers parked on the road ... and me.  
There are even more pilings with grass heads of hair, probably from another canning operation, or maybe these are some of the railroad pilings.  There was a railroad built along here at one time, for which I found zero information.  When I checked the internet, the National Park Service's "Apology" page came up.  Dan Chance, who has more railroad knowledge than a library, can tell us what it was.
While watching the big ships in the distance waiting to go up the Columbia River, this salmon fisherman came in with his catch of the day.  Dinner will include delicious salmon steaks!
What was the OTHER Dismal Nitch you ask?  Well it's right here in River City where I'm parked.  This last week went faster than a speeding bullet ... and here it was .... FRIDAY.  Now named Dismal Nitch day, Friday is the day to lock yourself in your rig, turn the TV up LOUD and have a glass of wine ... or pepsi in my case.  

The hordes have arrived!  In spite of my good camping site, surrounded by a cabin and a full-time resident, the nighttime screaming can be heard miles away.  The closest now being 5 tents together with 7 vehicles crammed into one campsite.  On the other end, volleyball and basketball lasted until 10:00.  It gets dark at 8:30.  Maybe a little glass of wine WILL make it better.  

Two dogs tried to eat my kite on the beach, three kids tripped over my lines and the truck screaming down the beach doing donuts, throwing sand everywhere, actually ran OVER them.  I can't wait for Sunday night to arrive when my sanity will return.  

In the meantime, I try to keep my sense of humor by smiling at everyone ... or maybe that's just the wine .... I mean pepsi!!  


  1. We have driven that way a few times & never new Dismal Nitch was there. Thank you for the information! Makes for another reason to go back & visit.

    Liz-Boise, ID

    1. It's a nice quiet little place to view the bridge, Liz. Even in the fog it's pretty cool!

  2. Our debate is "Head to Tillamook on Sunday or wait until Monday..." And I spell Pepsi with a "B" (Bud) :)

    1. I'd wait till Monday ... Sunday traffic is almost as bad as Friday!!! Enjoy those Tillabars!!!

  3. Did you find the Geocache there? You can cache when there is NO Wind! 😀

    1. Yes and no .... caching on busy Friday and Saturday is a bad idea!! Today's blog is for you two!!