Trip Report: San Juan Island hopping (part 2)
By: K.M. Collins
Author's note: This trip report is a three-part series which will post in December, January and February. The San Juan Island Hopping series is meant to keep you dreaming of warmer kayaking times to come - during the coldest months of the year!
On night one of my 2017 San Juan Islands multi-day kayaking trip, the crew landed on Jones Island Marine State Park (red circle on the map) for the night, several miles from our launch point on Orcas Island. Here we found a gorgeous grassy knoll adorned with fruit trees and many woodland creatures eager to make an acquaintance. Deer, racoon and otters were all spotted within minutes of arrival.
Although the wildlife was enchanting, don’t feed them or store anything edible in your tent as the racoons have been known to raid camps and tents for treats. We even saw the sneaky little guys opening our kayak hatches late night on the beach.
Other charming elements of Jones Island include a Public Library in one of the public restrooms, looking for the odd cacti in the lush forest landscape, seeking out outstanding cliff line views of Spieden Island and first-class picnic tables to layout provisions and cook supper. The 4 miles of hiking trails, including a perimeter path, are great for stretching the legs after kayaking all day.
On day two, the crew kayaked over ten miles, overshooting Obstruction Pass State Park (the orange circle on the map) landing on Deer Point and causing us to backtrack just under a mile. The sun peeked out off-and-on, and the miles came in regularity with a total time of 4 or less hours on the water. Ten miles is generally a good amount of distance per day, depending on conditions.
Once landed on the pebbly beach of Obstruction Pass, along the Cascadia Marine Trail, we walked a steep hill to a bluff with primitive campsites tucked between madrone trees and overlooking the bay where the kayaks were moored. With few campsites and much forest coverage, we felt like we had this spot all to ourselves.
Day three was another beautiful day traversing just under 10 miles to Cypress Head Campground(yellow circle on the map). Here we found an open pebble beach with an abundance of picnic tables. Late in the evening a group of night paddlers seeking bioluminescence landed for a visit. Observing bioluminescence in the sea waters is a major tourism draw in the San Juan Islands and is a phenomenon wherein a living organism emits light when agitated by a paddle, kayak keel or hand. It’s like a starry cosmic light show in the water.
On day four, the final morning, we saw a rainbow on our beach, ventured into the most exposed water of the trip and held a barring until we hit Anacortes, our final destination. This was approximately a 7-to-8-mile paddle.
Although we had heard of kayakers on previous trips having difficulty with weather, capsizing, and even having to call the Coast Guard, on my trip to the San Juans the weather was beautiful, and the sun broke the clouds often. I can’t wait to go again!
For more on the San Juan Islands, be sure to check out part 1 of this series and stay tuned for part 3, all about island hopping in Eddyline Kayaks' pride and joy - the Fathom.