Camping Report: Ainsworth State Park, 18-19 March

It was hard to tell what the weather would be for departure for the Ainsworth bike camping trip on Tuesday, as it seemed to change with every new forecast. When I initially planned the trip, the weather forecast called for Tuesday to be clear, but each subsequent day had rain creeping in ever closer. Sounds pretty similar to what happened with the Three Speed Ride, eh? But unlike the Three Speed Ride, the weather actually became good for Tuesday. Clouds to sun, no rain, highs in the upper 50s F. Not bad for March.

Nate met me at my house in NE just after 11 am, and after fumbling a bit through the industrial crap along NE Columbia “Blvd”, we got on Marine Drive which was a nice fast straight shot to Troutdale. 16 miles went by with seemingly little effort, and we broke for lunch when we got into the Dale of Trouts.

After lunch, we were on the Historic Columbia River Highway, which we would stay on until we reached our camping destination. I have ridden this road many a time in the past ten years, and have written a lot about it too, so I won’t go too much into the details. (Hint: search this site for more.) But it’s always a great time when I’m on the old highway, especially when the sun is out. And the sun came out. I was beaming the whole climb up the hill, beaming while glimpsing the grandeur of the Gorge for the first time in 2014, beaming when we made a stop at Vista House (the balcony was open!), beaming on the descent to Latourell Falls, etc. And beaming that we didn’t have any wind.

And Nate and I especially beamed when a representative from Ninkasi Brewing gave us free beer at Multnomah Falls!

Nate and I arrived at Ainsworth at 5:30, with virtually no one in the campground. I was relieved. Last year when April and I came out during the same time and on a weekday we found all six of the wooded walk-in spots occupied, plus pretty much all of the basic camping spots, leaving us with camping in a “pull-through” spot. (Apparently it was spring break.) But not this time. The only person who was there was Tomas, who got to the campground before us despite leaving after us. (He ended up taking I-84 the whole way.) Soon the rest of the crew rolled in: Brad, Ed, and Erinne. We set up camp, got a fire going, and made merry into the thankfully dry night.

I awoke Wednesday morning around 8 am and made breakfast. Everyone took off on their own pace, and I left camp after everyone else. And right when I departed the good weather finally gave way to bad: a heavy drizzle. “Heavy drizzle” seems to be the Gorge’s favorite type of rain, at least when I ride out this way. I dealt with a heavy drizzle on the inaugural tour on the Long Haul Trucker back in April of 2008, a drizzle so heavy that I almost scuttled tour, but ended up staying in a motel in Cascade Locks. I dealt with a heavy drizzle at the start of last years PDX-Gorge-Spokane Tour in May. I dealt with a heavy drizzle during my Pedalpalooza Mid-week Gorge Ride last June. Thankfully, I was returning home, and the drizzle lasted for only an hour. By this point I was westbound on I-84, wanting the fastest way home. I took a quick pause for coffee at Rooster Rock State Park, where the park ranger took a photo of me doing said activity! (Maybe I’ll end up on the brochure?)

Not too much else to report on the return ride: I stopped for lunch at Edgefield in Troutdale, opted to ride the whole way home via Sandy Blvd for a bit, a route I hadn’t taken before (not bad, not great), got caught in two downpours, got a flat a few miles from home (wire.) I got home, showered, then ran out the door to attend a Cycle Wild meeting in SE.

All in all, a great trip! About 40 miles of riding out, 35 riding back. I got to hang out with good friends, enjoy the splendor of the Gorge, and camp again. Now I’m waiting for the next trip…

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5 thoughts on “Camping Report: Ainsworth State Park, 18-19 March

    • Thanks for the link. Yeah, the hiker/biker sites for Ainsworth have been “in the works” for a few years. And they have an unofficial h/b spot right now, which while it’s better than nothing, isn’t as nice as the wooded walk-in sites. From what I gather, they’re going to make improvements to the unofficial h/b area to make it official.

      The big deal for some hiker/bikers is the move by some Oregon and Washington state parks to ban hammocks from their campsites. It’s been happening.

      • Huh, I hadn’t heard about hammock banning – is it due to wear on the trees? I know some people love the hammocks but can say it’s an issue I can get very worked up about. If it is damaging the flora than I think I’d pretty much agree with the policy.

        • Yeah, it’s due to wear on trees/bark. Like you, I never really “got” hammocks, despite knowing many people who use them, despite many people trying to convince me to “go hammock”. (Maybe it’s the evangelicalism and smugness factor? 😉 ) I do believe they work good for certain purposes, like sucky ground but lots of trees. But I’d rather sleep in a tent or bivy.

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