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Showing posts from May, 2010

CAPE HORN: What's In A Name?

These are the curiously shaped basalt cliffs of Cape Horn. This is just one of the geographic areas on the Columbia River that has the name ‘Cape Horn’.

Cape Horn as seen from the Bridal Veil Loop Hike

The Famous Cape Horn (lower right)     NASA/courtesy of

This is the famous Cape Horn, at the tip of South America. In the 1600s, if you were a ship’s captain but you weren’t part of the Dutch East India Company and you wanted to get to the Pacific Ocean by traveling west, then you had to find a route around the tip of Chile without resorting to the Strait of Magellan. This navigational feat was difficult to accomplish owing to constant storms, high wind, high waves (65 feet) and occasional ice burgs. When sailing ships started doing routes around the cape, there were no maps for what lay beyond it. Antarctica, its existence suspected as early as Captain Cook's 1773 adventure across the Arctic Circle, doesn’t seem to have been seen for sure until 1820.
Wikipedia notes tha…

My Favorite Season at Smith and Bybee Lakes: All of Them

Those animals that could, followed the sun south. Those that couldn't burrowed into the ground and went to sleep. Immobile trees jettisoned their canopies and learned to bend before the savage winds of winter. And all the while, the Earth continued its NASCAR-like journey around the sun, completing yet another lap and speeding on to the next. 
Standing at the east end of Smith lake, I prepare to launch from the 'new' kayak and canoe ramp that Metro put into place several years ago in deference to the wishes of the rare painted turtles who preferred to keep their slough private. It is cold and dark and calm. The clouds have granted a temporary reprieve and opened the sky to the stars. All night, whatever heat was collected from the previous day has been radiating out into space - no water vapor blankets to insulate the earth.

There is a feeling, perhaps a noise - an announcement that the sun will be rising before it actually rises. Perhaps the air beyond the horizon is heated…