Day 4: White Salmon, WA to Camas, WA - A quick trip around the Columbia River Gorge - CycleBlaze

September 1, 2013

Day 4: White Salmon, WA to Camas, WA

This part of the Gorge is famous (or infamous, if you're a cyclist) for its winds. There are often dozens of windsurfers out on the river near every beach in the area. We had arrived at a particularly calm time, but the winds came back today, and they were not blowing in our favor! Somehow we did not let this fact crush our spirits, but it took its toll on our energy and alertness. This is not ideal when cars are whizzing by at 60mph and you have little to no shoulder to work with. Worse yet are the wind-funneling tunnels, which slow you to a crawl as you blindly push your way through the resistance that man and nature have joined forces to create.

Really it wasn't all that bad. We just had to pace ourselves. There aren't too many opportunities to rest. You basically push on through. One nice thing about today: we found ourselves actually looking forward to the climbs, since the hills block much of the oncoming wind. And I'll take straight-on headwinds to crosswinds any day of the week.

This was not the longest-distance day of the tour, but I think we spent more time in the saddle today than yesterday, as our average pace was reduced by about 20 per cent. It's a good thing we got off to an early start.

We lunched at Stevenson. I know this little town fairly well, as it was a routine stop on the riverboat I worked on a few years back. They have a nice market and a fantastic brewpub (which unfortunately is not open for lunch). I was looking forward to visiting a coffeehouse called Bahma, which had a very friendly feel to it. It has closed, but another place called Robbie's is attempting to fill the void. It lacks the charm of Bahma, and at the time we visited, it was being run by a couple of teenagers who didn't seem to know what they were doing. Still, it was nice to be back in Stevenson.

It wasn't very windy here, so we were able to grab a few things at the market. We bought a mini-watermelon on a whim. We found a picnic spot near the water and dove into the bounty. I'll be damned if that wasn't the tastiest melon I've ever had! We lazed after eating, resting and digesting in preparation for the long road ahead.

We pressed on, and so did the winds. I knew that at some point in our journey westward, they would ease up, but I'd say it was pretty close to the final climb up to Cape Horn before we received any respite. We stopped at Beacon Rock but were in no mood to hike to the top. The map shows the elevation gain to Cape Horn to be about the same as Chanticleer Point on the Oregon side, but considerably steeper. In reality, it was very manageable. It had recently been repaved, and despite the curves in the road, the shoulder was fairly generous. We had a look around at the top, then merrily zoomed down the other side. This put us close enough to our destination that nothing else really mattered. We were just looking forward to a hot meal and a comfortable bed. We made a beeline to Camas, but in retrospect, I would have liked to cruise through Washougal to see what it has to offer.

We had booked a room at the Camas Hotel. It's a nice little place with a lot of history. Our room was remodeled with IKEA furniture, but it was very tastefully done. It was also very reasonably priced.

I have never seen a town with a paper mill situated right next to its business district. Somehow they make it work. The company has obviously taken a lot of effort to reduce the odors emanating from the plant. I suppose that the predominantly easterly winds also help, as downtown lies to the north. After securing our bikes and checking in, we strolled around to see what our options were. Many places were closed for all or part of the Labor Day weekend. We settled on a new place, Mill City Brew Werks, and were not disappointed. As is often the case while touring, we impressed our server by cleaning our plates, drinking our share of the local suds, and saying yes to the dessert menu without a moment's hesitation. They have a 4-selection sample tray available so you can pretend to be a beer critic without getting too tipsy. I recommend the grapefruit hefeweizen if it's available.

Our route from White Salmon, WA to Camas, WA
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Several of the warning signs had been modernized, and paved shoulders added for easier access to the button
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The light at the end of the tunnel
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A serene lunch spot at the Stevenson waterfront
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The view from Cape Horn
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Our destination for the evening, the Camas Hotel.
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Wonderful downtown Camas
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Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 188 miles (303 km)

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