September 12, Day 173, 3292 Miles Completed, 31 Left!

I could hear the wind in the trees and waves hitting the shore this morning. It made me less excited to get on the river early. Nevertheless I was paddling before sunrise. 

With predicted north winds I crossed over to the Washington side. There were a few salmon fishermen out, but the river was much, much quieter. Ships were docked in several places.

Although there was a brisk wind when I started out it began to die down.  At times the tide was helping me a little bit and at times the tide was hindering me but it didn’t  make a dramatic difference either way.  At times I noticed I was cruising at about 5 miles an hour so I was getting maybe 1 mile an hour gain from the current and tide, I’ll take it! I think maximum gain from current and tide since I passed Bonneville dam is about 2 miles an hour. The minimum is about -1 mph. 

Several oceangoing ships passed me again today. Looking at the big wave they were pushing in front of them you would think that a poor kayaker would be swamped by them. I found however, that they threw off less of a wave then a powerboat passing nearby. 

Passing Ship


I saw at least two seals and heard one another time that I didn’t spot.  There were many cormorants and a few pelicans.  This close to the sea obviously most of the shore and hills are covered with trees.  I couldn’t help but think back to my smokejumper days looking at some of the trees that must’ve been nearly 150 feet tall, and I was glad that I wasn’t hitting the top of one of them with the parachute. 

My old smokejumper buddy Andy Anderson gave me a call unexpectedly.  Neither of us realized that I had passed his home town area already. Rats!  

I have Pacific fever now so I only took about three breaks and they were fairly brief. At one spot there was an enormous oceangoing ship’s anchor sitting on shore.  It would be fun to know it’s history, it must be valuable as it was still in extremely good shape. 

For most of the day the wind was very light, only for 45 minutes or so did I have a strong tailwind. Towards evening a side wind came up but it was not much of a factor.  Wind, and thinking about wind, has been a very big part of this journey.

About 4 PM I slowly rounded a corner and got goosebumps. To the west I could see mountains and islands, and water that extended to the horizon, the Pacific ocean! What a thrill that was.  It was a big surprise too.  I knew I was over 30 river miles from the ocean so I didn’t think I would be able to see it so soon.  

Checking out the map there were a series of islands between me and Astoria and the mouth of the river got wider and wider. I decided to follow the south shore so I wouldn’t get caught on the wrong side of the bay by a strong wind. 

I had come over 40 miles and I was tuckered out.  Each of the last two days I’ve also done about 40 miles. Each represented long days of paddling.  When I passed an island with nice high ground with big trees, including spruce trees,  I decided to camp. 

There were lots of good camping spots.  I dragged my kayak up the gently sloping sandy beach until it was above the high tide mark. There I tied it off to a big log.

Pacific in view!


From my tent I can take a few steps and look out across the Pacific. If the wind cooperates, I might be able to finish on Wednesday, the 14th, but not before then. It will feel good to crawl into my sleeping bag tonight. Colter

Clark: November 7th Thursday 1805… Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly

Trip overview and route map with position updates: 

http://bucktrack.com/Lewis_and_Clark_Trail.html