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Cape Sebastian and Vicinity

When Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno sighted this massive headland in 1603, he was just about to turn around and sail back to Mexico. A seasoned mariner and soldier, he had spent over a year sailing the west coast of North America and was looking forward to returning home. Whether intended or not, Vizcaíno’s tour of the northern coast of California and southern coast of Oregon had little to do with exploration. Historians seem to agree that his 1602-03 expedition discovered virtually nothing new but did produce more accurate charts of the coastline. Many of the areas he visited still bear the names he gave them – San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina Island, Monterey and, yes, Cape Sebastian. (The explorer named the headland after a Catholic saint, not himself.) At 720 feet (219 m) high, Cape Sebastian has been both a beacon and a nightmare for travelers. For those voyaging by sea, it (along with Humbug Mountain just north) presented a helpful landmark. For those traveling overland, however, it was a massive obstacle which needed to be skirted or climbed.

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