I could feel a few butterflies fluttering around in my stomach as Laura, Nikken, and I drove into Friday Harbor to meet our first Women on the Water (WOW) guests of the season. Anxious? Excited? Super-excited? I was definitely a mixture of all of the above when we picked up our nine rambunctious ladies and headed toward San Juan County Park. As the fog burned off to reveal a glorious sunny day, everyone, including me, was ready to get out on the water and sea kayak in the San Juan Islands. After packing up all of our food and gear, we launched!
Our adventurous group consisted of Judy and Laura, a dynamic and athletic duo who came with us to celebrate Judy’s birthday. Shannon and Izzy were an adventurous couple as were Laura and Carol, two friends from Oregon. My paddling partner was Carole, an easy-going and experienced traveler, and last but certainly not least were our two intrepid adventurers Carole and Alix.
As we paddled out of Small Pox Bay and the Olympic Range came into view, I discovered that everyone in our group had a talent, or rather, a love for singing. We sang everything from James Taylor to old camp songs and by then end of the trip we even planned on producing our own platinum album. Perhaps it was our beautiful voices that lured the wildlife toward our boats because we saw bald eagles, rhinoceros auklets, harbor seals, and even Dall’s Porpoises surfacing behind us.
We pulled our kayaks into Prevost Harbor of Stuart Island and set up camp in a site overlooking the boats below. The three of us guides started cooking dinner, our guest Laura whipped up a killer salad dressing, and the rest of the women explored
the surrounding trails and beaches. Over savory tortilla soup followed by a fresh blueberry peach cobbler I listened to some of the women share about their lives. Despite everyone’s unique backgrounds, it was amazing how quickly we were able to connect with one another through a love of the outdoors and the satisfaction of having a full belly of delicious food.
The next day, we woke up to a bright, cloudless sky. After a spinach and goat cheese frittata breakfast, we consulted the tides and weather for the day and decided to circumnavigate John’s Island. It was low tide when we left which provided us with great opportunities to see some marine life. The rocky shore was dotted with purple sea stars and a few blood stars and below us were forests of seaweed and kelp. There were some rough paddle spots, but we powered through with some muscle and cheered on Laura and Carole’s boat yelling “Go C7! C7 in the lead!” We even made sure to take a break and blow some blueberry scented bubbles while on the water. Back at camp, Laura and Nikken stayed behind to make dinner while the rest of the women and I went on a hike to Lover’s Leap and Turn Point Lighthouse, two great scenic spots on Stuart Island. When we looked out from the cliffs at Lover’s Leap out onto the open ocean and the Canadian Gulf Islands we were all left speechless. The view was gorgeous and a few of the ladies spotted two porpoises in the water below.
As much as we wanted to stay and take in the view, our stomachs were rumbling so we booked it back to camp like “horses to the barn” (as Alix put it). Of course, according to Stuart Island tradition, we all had to throw a rock at the old rusted car on the way back while making a wish.
That night, after dinner, we had a special surprise for Judy’s birthday: A double layer chocolate cake with blueberries and whipped cream. Yum! It turned out to be a festive night filled with lots of laughter and WOW spirit. The all women group allowed for a relaxed atmosphere— it was easy to connect with one another and laugh and talk about anything. As one of the ladies commented, “What happens on the WOW trip, stays on the WOW trip.”
We slept well that night with tired muscles and full bellies and woke up the next day refreshed and ready for one more day of paddling. Once we launched our boats in Prevost Harbor, our guest Laura led the group in coordinated “paddle calisthenics.” We entertained the curious gawkers from the surrounding yachts and ended with the grand finale move of “right fish stab.” After our warm up, we paddled from Stuart Island back to our final destination: Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.
Three days went by so quickly! I was sad to see these ladies go, but it was a hilariously fun and memorable trip. I can’t wait to meet other fun and unique women on more Women on the Water adventures this summer. Go WOW!
~ posted by Lauren