June 19, 2011

Cape Disappointment is a headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean immediately north of the mouth of the Columbia River.

The cape was so named by English fur trader John Meares in 1788 because Meares was unable to find the mouth of the Columbia River. He was, quite obviously, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia, which defines the Washington-Oregon border. But the river, which drains much of the Pacific Northwest, is more than 10 miles wide where it meets the sea.

Captain Meriwether Lewis and George Rogers Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-06 near Cape Disappointment at Fort Clatsop, the site of present day Astoria, Oregon, on the south side of the Columbia River.

Cape Disappointment is now the site of a Washington state park. The vistas are magnificent and the Pacific Coast woodlands of the park were filled with large ferns, wildflowers, and a variety of delightful sights and odors when I visited there June 16.