Whitaker Ponds Natural Area is a place that I’ve known about for a long time, and would occasionally pass on a bike ride. It’s a small natural area consisting of two ponds adjacent to the Columbia Slough, a bit of wild that remained while industry grew around it. Even though I love spots like this, I haven’t been there as often as I should. Visits are few and far between, whether it be a very cold (22F/-6C) Midnight Mystery Ride in December of 2005 or a Sunrise Coffee Club in January of 2014. (The running theme here seems to be “at weird hours of the day during the winter.”) 1 And for a number of years Whitaker Ponds was closed off due to restoration work–it hasn’t been open to the public again until fairly recently.
Whitaker Ponds is not usually a “destination” for a ride. But I had to pick up some postcards from a printer on NE Columbia Blvd. I realized that Whitaker Ponds would me just about a mile away from the shop, so I decided to head over there after picking up the job.
The ride up on the Bantam was pretty fun. I definitely needed a ride, and let myself go on autopilot, seeking out all the fun gravel and cut-throughs that the Cully neighborhood provides. But I had to use Columbia Blvd for a bit, a street of “certain death” for cyclists. I stayed on the sidewalk, hoping that all the broken glass and metal shards wouldn’t puncture a tire. (It didn’t.)
I had a nice little time there. There was a bit of people at Whitaker Ponds, at least more than I thought for a Monday afternoon, but it’s a largish park. I hung out on the small dock on the main pond for a bit, watching the ducks and possibly a nutria ply the waters. The cottonwoods were still sleeping, spring won’t hit these trees for another month. I then took a cruise around the lakes–I’m guessing these are mostly “walking paths” but there weren’t any signs saying “no bikes”. I saw a few people bird watching. It was all very pleasant.
After the visit, I rambled back through the Cully neighborhood some more, getting a burrito and eating it in Cully Park. It was that “borderline” nice spring weather–sunny and around 50F/10C. It’s good to move around in it, but if you sit still for too long your body will cool down. As the sun was setting, I figured it’d be a good time to head home. I ended up riding 16.4 mi/26.4 km, pretty respectable for me as of late.
I’ll be back to Whitaker Ponds someday, hopefully sooner than later.
1 Or summer–During Summer Solstice 2016, after Sunset/Moonrise met up with the Solstice Ride (they happened on the same night, first time since 1948) there was a Whitaker Ponds stop somewhere around midnight.