Sea Kayaking Washington’s San Juan Islands

Day 7: Today we had a more relaxed day than we were able to while on our backpacking section. We got to sleep in and then we enjoyed a delicious hot breakfast of hash browns, eggs, sausage, and bagels.   Danielle did a great job as leader of the day; she cooked the delicious eggs in the morning and also got everyone excited to go rafting. After breakfast, we got ready for rafting and then drove to the banks of the beautiful, glacier-fed Hoh River to meet our guides. We then set off on our first rafting adventure! While on the water, we saw an otter and several bald eagles. We enjoyed the spectacular forests of Alder and Pines that lines the river banks. The rapids were pretty mellow, but it was nice to just relax in the sun. We all jumped in the water even though it was freezing! After rafting, we drove back to our campsite and cook crew made a tasty meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup. Nathan manned the griddle and enthusiastically turned out the sandwiches. After dinner we all played cards and then each student had an individual check-in with Mike or Phoebe. Then we had evening circle and went to bed!

 

Day 8: Today was mainly a travel and prep day for us. Phil, our leader of the day, woke up early and got breakfast set up, and then woke the rest of the group up. We got out of camp in record time, which was great as we had two ferries to catch that day. We were right on time, and on the second ferry we ate some lunch out on the passenger deck overlooking the ocean and islands. Once we got to Friday Harbor, we went to a whale museum and then to our campsite. Since we got there pretty early, we were able to spend an hour or so by the water, reading, swimming, and lounging. Next we met our sea kayak specialist, Erin, and went through all of our backcountry prep. Cook crew made some great chili and after dinner we had evening circle around a campfire. We did highs and lows and then each of us got a surprise temporary tattoo from the whale museum in honor of starting our sea kayaking section. 

 

Day 9: Today was our first day of sea kayaking! We had to wake up bright and early in order to be on the water by 7:30am. Everyone was super efficient in the morning and we got a packed up in no time. Then we drove to Jackson Beach to meet Erin and pack up the kayaks. After a quick paddling demo, we were off! We saw some seals and jelly fish. We stopped for a break on an island and when we got back in the water, Peter entertained us all by singing “Stacy’s Mom” at the top of his lungs. We took a few more breaks and were able to cover a lot miles. Later in the afternoon a pretty strong bed wind picked up , but the group pushed through it and we made it to our campsite on Spencer Spit. We lounged on the beach there, reading and napping, and then set up camp. Cook crew made fettuccine Alfredo and cocoa, which we ate in a neat little shelter with a great view. After evening circle, we headed to bed.

 

Day 10: Today Hannah awoke early to boil water for breakfast and get all our food from the bear box, which was a good distance from camp. She woke everyone else up and we all are some breakfast. It took us quite a while to pack up the kayaks, but we eventually floated off! It was a little choppy in the morning, but it calmed down after an hour or so. We had to pod up and wait in the water for two ferries to cross, so while we waited we played a fun word game called Contact. Celia won several games and demonstrated her impressive vocabulary, stumping us all at one point with “pedantic.” We got going again and then had lunch on a warm sandy beach. Then we continued onward. The last part of our day was a 1 1/2 mile crossing. The wind had picked up slightly but we decided to go for it. Even though everyone was pretty tired, they pushed through and never stopped paddling. Lucia’s previous kayaking experience came in handy and she offered a lot of encouragement during this tough crossing. We made it safely across and right as we finished we came upon a group of about 25 seals on rocky outcropping. We floated around and observed them before heading to our campsite, Turn Island. Once we got into camp and unpacked, it quickly be apparent that the island was was overrun with some very brave raccoons. Phil had a great time defending our food from a particularly cheeky raccoon. While cook crew made a tasty dinner of pasta and veggies, the rest of the group went swimming and relaxed on the beech. Brad had a blast running and leaping into the very chilly water and then laying down on the warm rocks of the beach. He also did a great seal impression. After dinner, we had evening circle on the beach, played cards, and did some more swimming. After the sunset we got into our tents and drifted off to sleep.

 

Day 11: Today we kayaked out of the backcountry and then cleaned all the kayaks and gear. When we get to Anacortes, we’ll do showers, laundry, and food shopping. Tomorrow we will be prepping for our last backcountry section, a canoe trip.