4 and 6 day Kayak Camping Sample Itineraries:
Day 1: Your tour will begin when you meet your guides and the rest of your group at the ferry landing in Friday Harbor. From here we will shuttle you in our van to either Snug or Roche harbor to launch the boats. Here we will work on stowing all of our expedition gear and introduce you to the sea kayaking technique including: a safety lesson, custom fitting to your boat, boat handling skills, wildlife viewing standards.
Once everyone is ready and well informed for the trip we’ll push off on the first leg. 2 to 2 ½ hours of paddling through the channels and small islands that dot the waters of the Northern San Juan coast will bring us to our lunch spot and your introduction to the cuisine you are in store for throughout your trip. You have never seen camp food like this before even when you weren’t camping! After lunch we’ll continue on to one of the harbors of Stuart Island where we’ll set up camp for the night. At this point you can take advantage of the trails which run through the portion of the island which is reserved for the park, hike the path out to the abandoned lighthouse and cliff overlook for a sunset at Turn Point, watch the seals, kingfishers, osprey, and blue heron feed on the shallow waters of the bay, or just contemplate how amazing it is that the aroma you are smelling is the masterful workings of your dinner being cooked by your friendly chefs/guides. Hot fresh brownies straight from the Outback Oven will go perfect with campfire conversation, star-gazing, or simply your walk to the cozy nest within your spacious Marmot tent.
Day 2: The smell of cinnamon buns might be the next thing you are able to perceive as you awaken to another day of paddling and gourmet food. If you are on a two day/one night tour you will work your way back through the islands to Roche or Snug Harbor some time after lunch. We usually get off the water sometime around 2:30 PM which puts you back into Friday Harbor around 3:30.
If you are on a three day/two night or four day/three night trip get ready for the circumnavigation of Stuart Island. This is perhaps the most interesting paddle this portion of the Archipelago has to offer. Alternating bands of sandstone and conglomerate rock layers which have eroded into shapes reminiscent of waves frozen in time and the gentle and graceful etchings of Japanese paintings serve to augment the wildlife already exposed to you on your paddle the day before. Like one continuous art gallery the sculpted layers of this shoreline extend northward until they climax in the 100+ foot cliff dubbed “lover’s Leap” and the rustic Turn Point lighthouse which mark the farthest northwestern reaching point in the lower 48 states. Along this route there are plenty of good locations for another round of our fine cuisine which your guides will prepare as soon as your hunger dictates. After lunch we’ll continue along the coast of Stuart until we reach the comforts of our base camp and camp chairs we left behind that morning. The evening will be filled with a new but equally tantalizing drift of aroma from the stove and the night with an equally fulfilling sleep.
Day 3: If you are on two night/three day trip the next morning you will trace the route from which you came on day one and find your way back to Friday Harbor around 3:30. Those of you on a 4 day/3 night trip can look forward to another day of island hopping and nature viewing, accompanied by fine cuisine while you paddle through the rugged forested shorelines of Spieden and the Cactus islands on your way to the shores of Jones Island on the east side of San Juan. Here the hiking trails and old growth forests will set the tone for a contemplative sunset on the western heather bluffs of Jones.
Day 4: Finally, even this tour has to come to an end but not before another hot breakfast filled with local and organic ingredients. After we have lightened our load one last time and taken in our final sight of the magnificent old growth firs we’ll head off down the east side of San Juan Island through the Wasp Islands, past the mouth of Friday Harbor to our pull out beach at Turn Point. From here it’s a short drive to Friday Harbor where you’ll arrive around 3:30 at the end of your tour.
5 and 6 day Kayak Camping Sample Itineraries:
These two tours are for those of you who want to see as much as is possible in a kayaking adventure in the San Juans. Weather permitting, both the 5 and the 6 day tours follow a route which circumnavigates the largest of the islands in the Archipelago, Orcas Island. The length of an average paddling day is 10 miles with a lay over day on the 6 day tour. There is no route more inspiring than the Orcas Island Circumnavigation. Many of the guests who have gone out on this route come back deeply changed by the experience. This is a route that is not about whales, or any other one thing for that matter, it’s about getting into it…all of it as deeply as you can. Here you have the time and the broadness of attention to take in all aspects of your surroundings, and in watching the endless beauty of your surroundings be reminded of the many dimensions of yourself. This is a trip for those who want to see some more challenging waters, get a bit more time behind the paddle each day, and see scenery that rivals that of any other portion of this island group. Quite frankly, this tends to be a spiritual adventure accompanied by the best guides we have to offer, our fine cuisine, and outstanding surroundings. Please note that while the meals are not emphasized in the description of these trips they are of the same quality as those of all of our trips the only difference is you get to try more of them.
Day 1 of 5/Day 1 of 6: The route begins at Turn Point on San Juan Island where we will shuttle you to at the beginning of the trip. After loading our gear into the hatches of our sea kayaks and familiarizing you thoroughly with proper paddling and safety skills as well as wildlife etiquette we will be on our way. After stopping for lunch on Little McConnell Island we’ll weave our way through the Wasp Islands on our way to Jones. The trails and old growth trees of Jones will be more than enough to keep us interested until it’s time for a tasty dinner and traditional sunset on the bluffs of Jones’ Westside.
Day 2 of 5/Day 2 of 6: On the morning of the second day we’ll begin by paddling up the quite and rarely traveled Presidents Channel. You would have to paddle this section with your eyes closed to not see the porpoise which heavily populate the area. The last 4 miles of the trip mark a separation from the side of Orcas Island and an emergence into the lower stretches of the Strait of Georgia. This Strait is a vast and impressive body of water that reaches from here beyond the port city of Vancouver in British Columbia. Our destination for the night lies 4 miles off the side of Orcas directly into the Strait. It is an intriguing cluster of islands know collectively as the Sucias. Here the layer of sandstone which appears periodically throughout the rest of the San Juans is unbroken. Here the artistic formations that are left behind as a petrified reminder of the dance occurring where water meets land reach their climax in shape, breadth and perfection.
Day 3 of 5: On the 3rd day of a five day trip we will paddle the biggest stretch of open water of any route in the San Juans. The short 7 mile route follows shoreline only briefly when it intersects the shoreline of Matia Island around the third mile. Other than this it is open exposed paddling in the remote waters of the Strait. To your right towers the evergreen cloaked mountainside of the 2,410 foot high Mount Constitution, the tallest peak in the San Juan Islands. To your left sprawls the mainland which ripples in dark Cascadian folds before the colossal snowcapped summit of Mt. Baker. Your destination lies before you as a low long and narrow island in the distance known as Clark Island. Awaiting you are the white sand beach on its western shore and protected eastern cove sunrises over the peak of Mt. Baker.
Day 3 of 6: If you are on a 6 day trip your third day is a layover day on Sucia. Along with the 8 miles of trails which you can explore there are sandstone caves, fossils, and 10 miles of shoreline to paddle. You won’t have any trouble finding things to do. The only question will be which activity to choose. After your layover day on Sucia your tour will continue following the rest of the 5 day route.
Day 4 of 5/Day 5 of 6: Day four marks your turn south and pointing back towards the shoreline of Orcas. This particular stretch of coastline sees more bald eagles than anywhere else we paddle. It is not unlikely to see close to 10 before the day is done. Also common along this stretch are rhinoceros auklets, harbor porpoise, and marbled murrelets. Tonight we’ll stay on the inside of Obstruction Pass in a campsite nestled in a small sheltered cove on Orcas Island.
Day 5 of 5/Day 6 of 6: The last day of our trip brings us to the intersection of the Harney Channel, Upright Channel and Thatcher Pass. After a few miles we’ll loose, for the first time in almost a week, eyesight of the Orcas shoreline as our route crosses the Harney Channel over to Shaw Island. This side of Shaw is locally known as “Starfish Alley”, or for those science buffs out there “Piaster Place”. Either way you choose to call it you’ll be enjoying hundreds of colorful sea stars ranging from a deep rich purple to a brilliant fleshy pink. The last mile of the trip leads us across the San Juan Channel where we arrive on the other side back at our point of origin, Turn Point on San Juan Island. Sad to end the experience but thankful for the time, strength and will to have carried out such an adventure we’ll shuttle back to Friday Harbor around 3:30.
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