Trip Log by Nathaniel Williams
Day 1 – Time constraints required us to sign on for a two day trip that began Friday afternoon August 2nd. After being met at the airport by our guide, Paul, we headed down to our launch site just south of Friday Harbor. Gear loaded, instructions and safety briefing completed; we hit the water at about 4:00 pm our destination, Jones Island.
After a three hour paddle we pulled into Jones Island and found a great campsite on the west side of the island and unloaded all the gear in order to find the red wine. Paul busied himself with preparing dinner while the three of us were content to watch the sun go down while sitting on the beach and drinking our wine.
Dinner was the famous Salmon Pasta dish that we enjoyed over conversation and more wine. We retired early and took advantage of the perfect weather to sleep on the beach under the stars.
Day 2 – After a big breakfast of French Toast and good coffee we were back on the water by 9:00 am. Our original destination was Stuart island but after two hours of paddling in absolute flat seas and very light winds we realized we would be at Stuart shortly. Enjoying ourselves too much to stop so early, we decided with Paul that, after lunch we would make Patos Island our destination.
Patos is the northernmost U.S. island in the San Juan chain. Paul told us no other Outdoor Odysseys group had ever made it to the island, and even Paul, born and raised in the area, had never stepped foot on the island.
After a check with base and an update on the weather we started the long crossing between Waldron and Patos. We arrived around 3:00 pm, tired but excited to explore. We checked out possible campsites and settled on one close to the beach. Though we were done for the day, Paul, the paddling machine, took on another two hour plus paddle to Sucia Island to get the group water.
When Paul returned, we hiked around the island marveling at the old growth forests and the varied plant life on this island. A Thai dinner followed by chocolate fondue and we were in bed early because we knew that an early start was required on Sunday morning.
Day 3 – After a quick breakfast we were on the water by 6:15 am. Our plan was to ride the tide in a straight shot to Roche Harbor. The morning brought strong winds and choppy seas, so Paul had us head for the shelter of Sucia Island, then to Point Dougherty off of Orcas Island. After some really tough paddling into the wind we began to question our ability to make our 4:00 ferry out of Friday Harbor.
One of the things we learned from Paul, our guide, is that you have to be flexible and make decisions on routes and destinations only when you have all the information. In this case, we decided to head back to Jones Island for lunch with a possible takeout point on the east side of San Juan Island. When the tide and wind turned back in our favor we changed plans again and headed for our original destination, Roche Harbor.
Just before our final crossing to Roche Harbor we got a very close look at an adolescent sea lion, which capped off our trip and made us pay more attention than all the seals and porpoises we had been seeing. Clarke met us at Roche Harbor and got us to our ferry on time.
We can’t say enough about our tour guide Paul, Clark and all the staff at Outdoor Odysseys. Very flexible, except in the area of safety (which is good), and very accommodating. Paul tells us we put in as many miles in two days as other groups do in 5 days. We were just happy being out on the water enjoying the San Juans.
All in all, a great trip!