This past weekend marked the start of the season for three of us newbies here at Outdoor Odysseys. As part of our training, new guides Scott, Chris, and myself, Sarah, embarked Saturday on a three-day sea kayaking trip led by six year veteran, Tom Murphy. Our route led us north along the west side of San Juan Island, past Henry, Posey, Spieden, and Pearl. We camped both nights at Reid Harbor on Stuart Island, and on Monday paddled back to San Juan.
Day one of our trip began at San Juan County Park, where we unloaded kayaks, ate a quick picnic lunch on the grass, and launched into Smallpox Bay, our kayaks loaded with tents, clothing, and food for the next three days. In addition to the numerous seals, birds, and other forms of wildlife we saw that day, we spotted several orcas just off the northwest coast of San Juan Island only an hour or so into our trip. The four of us rafted together in the kelp along the coast as the whales swam by, one of whom, a young calf, breached twice as he passed us, coming fully out of the water each time and throwing in a tail lob or two just for good measure. He seemed to be having as much fun as we were.
We arrived at Stuart Island on Saturday night, set up camp, and ate a dinner of pesto-salmon pasta followed by peach-blueberry crisp baked in the Dutch oven. The next morning, after another awesome Dutch-oven meal, we set out for a hike around Stuart Island and spent the day checking out the local flora and fauna, visiting the island schoolhouse and lighthouse, and, of course, eating more great food! That night we hung around camp, played cards, and had fun with some awesome bioluminescent plankton that Chris noticed in the water along the shore.
Monday morning we packed up camp and paddled south through Mosquito Pass, the sameway we had come. We arrived back at Smallpox Bay just before lunchtime and just in time to see another group of orca whales passing by. We ended the trip the way we had started it, with a picnic lunch at San Juan County Park, and drove home to Friday Harbor tired and a bit sunburnt, but more pumped than ever for the season to start!