Adventure Tuesday – San Juan 3 day Kayaking Tour

What started out in Jan/Feb as an idea for the “big” Adventure Tuesday ended up as the most incredible 3 days.  Everything was perfect.  The weather – mid 60’s and all sun (only a few clouds).  The water was unbelievable – glass so many mornings and mid days.  No one was around since it was early in the season and rarely is May so amazing and it was Mon-Wed so not prime tourist days.

Our group of 5 left my home at 4am Monday morning to reach the ferry in Anacortes so we could make the 6:20 ferry.  We parked the car at the ferry and walked on – proving to be a great time saver on both going and coming.

We had a 1 hour and 20 minute ferry ride to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.    I have taken the ferry to Lopez Island before, but have never been to Friday Harbor.  It was fun to catch up with my Mom on the ferry as the other women slept.

Getting off the ferry as a walker was great.  We were the first ones off and a block up the hill and we were at Discovery Sea Kayaks.

We walked into the shop and they handed us a 25L and a 15L bag to put our items in .  The 25L was for all our clothes, toiletries and anything else that we didn’t need during the trip (my Rebel went in there along with my clothes).  I don’t think any of us (except my Mom) have ever packed so little for a 3 day trip.  The 15L was for what we needed to be able to access while on the kayak.  The picture below shows all that the 5 of us brought of our own for the trip.

 We get to the launch site and were amazed at how much there was to pack into the 3 kayaks we were taking.

We each had a sleeping bag, pad, pillow.  There were 2 two men tents and 2 single tents.  There was all the food and cooking equipment for the 3 days.   There was lots to fit in.  Here is all that needed to fit into the 3 kayaks.

Here is a look at us all packed and ready to go in the kayaks.

Our launch point was Smallpox Bay on the west side of San Juan Island.   We were going to be paddling around 7 nautical miles that day, heading to Stewart Island.

The weather was amazing.  We had blue skies which makes for blue water.

Water conditions weren’t too bad this day.  Mostly smooth with just a bit of chop when we were in some of the bigger channel crossing.

My kids had gotten me a Chums camera float for Mother’s Day and I loved know that I didn’t have to worry about my Fuji camera (waterproof/shock proof/etc) no longer being sinkable.  I was amazed with how well the pictures turned out with it.  I had been disappointed on other trips with it, but this trip it sure did an amazing job of taking great pictures.

I was in the back for the morning while my Mom was in the front and then at lunch we switched.  Loved the signs on the islands we ate lunch at and camped at.

Once we made it to Posey Island and gotten the kayaks on shore.  We hiked the island (very small island) and checked out the tide pools while Brooke our guide got our  lunch ready.  I have never been on a trip where we were cooked for, but it was nice to not cook or clean up I must admit.  We hiked while food was ready.  Food tasted great that afternoon (as it did at each meal).  After a great lunch we headed off in route to our campsite for the night.

This was the view I had for the next couple of hours.  LOVED it.

And this was Mom behind me.

Once again we had great water for paddling across the channel.  The only excitement came from the occasional boat wake.  Nice to change things up  every so often.

It was fun to see all the different islands around us.  One time there was a huge flock of birds following a fishing boat.

Here were the other kayaks in our group.

We paddled a couple of hours and arrived at our campsite for the night.  It was in a mile long bay and the water there was perfect.  This was  view coming into camp for the first time.

We unloaded the kayaks and pulled the kayaks up onto the driftwood and set up our tents.

We were off hiking on the east side of the island.  We hiked up the ridge and then down to the other side where there was a dock for boats.

This is looking down from the ridge towards the campsite that afternoon.

These are views of the marina and us on that side.

We then took another path back to the campsite which was a “black diamond” hike.  We soon learned that every hike at the campsite was considered a “black diamond” hike.  Not sure who came up with the ranking, but we sure felt impressed with all our black diamond hikes.

Dinner was good.  We had Curry Smoked Salmon over rice along with a great salad and brownies for dessert.  I have never liked anything Curry before, but this tasted great.  Was it the surrounding or just my hunger.  After dinner we headed to the west side of the island for an amazing sunset.  It was a 2 1/2 mile hike to the light house.  Along the way we were able to see some of the fun sites of the island.  This island has no electricity (some homes have solar power/generators) or water (except for wells).  We were able to stop at the island’s library (always open never locked), school museum and current school for the 2 children who live on the island.

Town Library

School Museum

Current School

Loved the old barn alongside the country road.

We made it to Lover’s Leap just in time for an amazing sunset.  Standing there looking out over everything you could see, you couldn’t help but be amazing at how truly beautiful it was.  One thing that amazed me was how there was nothing to spoil the view.  No boats on the water, no lights on distant islands, nothing just the beauty of Nature.

We made our way back to camp and went to sleep.  I woke up around 5am and headed out to take some picture that morning.  It was fun to work in the amazing light of morning and have fun playing with reflections.

Tuesday morning we headed out on glass.  It was beautiful.  We paddled along in perfect water conditions.  We were going towards to Jones Island which was our camp for that night.  We had a 6 mile day of paddling ahead of us.   It was fun and tiring and taught me how important it is to have a guide who knows the area.  We were amazed at how the currents, tides, wind and all that plays into how you paddle.  We experienced our first rip tide.  So glad we had a guide who has a great knowledge of the area and paddling.

Tiffany and I kayaked together today.

 One of the many sea stars we saw along the route.

The kayakers in the back as we had a floating snack mid route.

We had slightly choppy water passing the last channel and so glad that we didn’t have much of that at all on our trip.

Once we arrived at Jones Island we were able to get an amazing camp site which involved a bit of a climb to get too.  Turns out it was easier to make a fire line and toss most of the equipment up to the next person than walk up and down.

We set up tents and ate lunch.  Then we had a couple of hours to hang around.  Some slept, Mom and I sat on a rock and solved all the problems in the world.  Loved spending time talking with her.

We then headed out on a hike around this island.  It didn’t have “Black Diamond” hikes only blue moderate hikes.  We were able to see a couple of sea otters playing in the bay.  Yeah that black dot in the middle is a sea otter.

After our hike we had dinner – the chocolate bars for dessert were great.   We then headed out for our sunset shots.  I think I like sunset shots from a cliff rather than on the rocks by the water like we had that night.  Also made it in time for the orange sunset prior to the blue/purple sunsets.

Found a spot along the way that had cell phone coverage so texted Owen and Lindsay quickly that I was alive, having a great time and loved/missed them.

Wednesday  morning came with an early start on the water and we once again had great conditions.   We headed to Turn Island and hiked around that Island.  The trail there was much less trodden.  This island had many more wild flowers and we saw a couple of raccoons.  The raccoons on Jones Island had stolen our potato chips Tuesday night we .  We discovered that raccoons can swim from one island to another.  We saw a head in the water and were wondering what it was, since we had many times before been proven wrong that our marine life that we though we saw were truly rocks in the water.  When it climbed out on the opposite shore, it was truly a raccoon so we know knew that raccoons could swim.

This is us sporting our kayak skirts.  They were wonderful and can’t imagine how wet we would have been without them.

During our last kayak ride to the finish we had a couple of seals following us along.  It was lots of fun, but my small camera couldn’t get a good shot of them.

We arrived in Griffin Bay and paddled to our take out point on the east side of San Juan Islands.  We had traveled over 20 miles during the three days.    Here is a map of our route.  The Spot turned off so our day two doesn’t show up execpt for where we camped #34.

Loved it but was happy we hadn’t signed up for the 5 day trip.  That would have been too long.

Headed home and walked onto the ferry at final call (perfect timing).

We were able to walk off the boat – go through custom’s (don’t forget your driver’s license); get to our car and leave before more than most of all cars and trucks were able to who had driven off the ferry.  Highly highly recommend not taking your car since it is so much quicker to walk off.

Had dinner and a blizzard and then headed home.  It was great to be home, but loved my 3 days in paradise.

This entry was posted in Adventure Tuesdays, Photography, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Adventure Tuesday – San Juan 3 day Kayaking Tour

  1. Nicolle says:

    wow, looks like an awesome trip! thanks for hosting greg this week.

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