Sea Kayaking the San Juan Islands

By Wilderness Adventures July 24, 2013

We have spent the last three days sea kayaking among the beautiful San Juan Islands. Before beginning our kayaking trip we spent some time exploring the coastal town of Friday Harbor. Here we visited the Whale Museum where we learned about the marine mammals that inhabit Puget Sound. We also had a chance to do some souvenir shopping and got delicious panini sandwiches at Brendans’ parent’s cheese shop (San Juan Island Cheese). We ate dinner at Lime Kiln State Park, which is one of the onshore best places to view orcas in the lower 48 states, and then met our sea kayaking guide Erin, who would be joining our group for the next three days. Erin showed us our route on her map and taught us how to pack for kayaking, which we did upon arrival at camp.

On Monday we woke up early to begin our kayaking adventure. As leader of the day Jack paddled with Erin at the front of the group. As point person he navigated along the coast and got us to camp in good time. While kayaking Bryce did a great job staying in sync with his partner by verbally calling out a paddling tempo. Once at camp (a flat grassy area near the water) we ate lunch, set up tents, and then relaxed for most of the afternoon. Everyone ended up napping on the beach at some point, as well as played cards and read. By late afternoon we were all feeling refreshed so we decided to hike along the beach for about half an hour to cook dinner at American Camp. Gracie took charge of her cook crew and helped them prepare a delicious meal of burritos. After our walk back we made a drift wood fire and stayed up late telling stories and getting to know each other better.

Everyone enjoyed a late wake up on Tuesday morning (9am!) and after a quick breakfast we packed up camp and were on the water. Day two was our longest day mileage wise (6 miles) but luckily we had the current with us most of the way so we made good time. As leader of the day Grant paddled in the front boat, and was subsequently the first person to spot orcas in the distance! Although on the other side of the channel we were able to observe the dorsal fins of several orcas for about twenty minutes! In addition to the orcas we saw many seals, which were much closer to us (sometimes only 20 – 30 feet), and several bald eagles.

The six miles went by fast and soon we reached Turn Island, where we would camp for the night. Like the day before, we lunched, set up camp, and then relaxed for a bit. The weather was beautiful and everyone went in the cold water to cool off. Fred stayed in the longest and even went for a swim. After drying off in the sun Lindsey helped her cook crew prepare tasty pesto pasta and chicken for dinner and popcorn for desert. We went to bed early, but not before watching the full moon rise above the water.

Today (Wednesday) we woke up early to see the sun rising over the ocean and began kayaking after packing up camp and eating breakfast. Maeve led the group three miles along the coast back to our starting point. Once on land we cleaned out our boats and caught the ferry back to the mainland. Today we will get to shower, do laundry, and grocery shop in preparation for our next section… backcountry canoeing in the North Cascades!