:: ORCAS ISLAND
there is always something that feels a little magical about a journey up to the Orcas Islands in the San Juans (yep, getting a little metaphysical here). me and Billy and Sheena piled into the truck and camper and took off for the weekend, in spite of the smokey air from all the raging wildfires. after a delayed ferry (Covid was certainly messing everyone’s schedule, including theirs) we rolled onto the island late on Thursday (the dusk view over the water was amazing) to our friends Dan and Steve’s amazing home on the water, close to the Rosario Resort. the next morning Dan and I kayaked out to the Sucia Islands, a jagged section of land just a few miles off the north shore. the open waters were a bit choppy but not too overwhelming for my smaller 12’ Elie kayak (Dan had no trouble in his full sized Neckie). we pulled up into Fossil Bay on the south with a handful of buoyed boats and hiked around the island. there were lots of coves, more boats and interesting basalt sand formations along the water’s edge. we had just missed a pod of Orcas after seeing a number of tour boats pass by us on the way back (dang it!). we did spot a few seals popping their heads out of the water.
the next day I paddled out to Jones Island Marine State Park, this time with more smog hanging in the air ( think the AQI was like 160? Not nice). the launch was fairly easy from a parking spot in the Deer Harbor Marina and the water was relatively calm. after navigating through a few coves, I entered into more open and rough water (and many larger boats) as I beelined for the east side of the island. as I pulled my kayak ashore it felt rather primitive being the only craft on the beach, but after hiking around the path I came across other paddlers (some camping at various spots), and a number of boats moored in coves all around the island. i snapped a handful of photos, including some iconic Madrona trees with vibrant colors and peeling bark, and a few Doug firs with strange, black indentations. i did manage to breathe a bit easier when I got back to the kayak – i had a few dangerous thoughts it may have drifted away (even though i pulled it a good distance from the water), or even stolen. Rather silly but hey, i have a wandering mind…just like my feet. one interesting scene on the way back: a couple of people on paddleboards making their way to Jones Island loaded with a ton of gear in dry bags. looked like a good way to do some island hopping for a future trip, and Orcas definitely deserves at least a few visits every year.