~Paul & Amber ETC
On a recent trip to the Olympic peninsula we decided to pull off from our normal drive (Bainbridge or Kingston ferry then up and over) and check out the Point No Point lighthouse. I had sailed by it many times before so I thought it'd be nice to see it from the land...and it was!
We toured the mini-museum and gift shop, checking out the old lights that used to be in the lighthouse (it's owned by the park & rec now). We also noticed you can rent out the old Lighthouse society headquarters building next-door...sweet.
Afterwards we hiked a little on some trails in the nearby woods and on the sandy beach at low tide. There is a little bit of a sandy spit here that jets out into the water - early (white) explorers thought it was more of a point than it turned out to be...a-hem...Point No Point. To top it off - it was sunny...in the Northwest!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Seattle has had 3 freakishly sunny April weekends in a row and word on the street is that next weekend could complete the month with dry weather! There really isn't a better place to soak up some of this normally-rainy-city-sun than Lake Union. It lies right smack in the middle of Seattle, right next to downtown. When it gets sunny and 'warm' it fills with sea planes, sailboats, powerboats, kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and Seattle's iconic house-boats (okay, so the house-boats don't come out only in the sun...they're pretty much always there).
I usually like to stay away from Lake Union and favor nearby Lake Washington due to less boat traffic and more woodsy places to paddle but, in my effort to cover all of the Northwest's waterways, decided to join the crowds and give it a go.
My friend and I launched from the 14th ave boat ramp in Ballard. It's near the Ballard bridge on the Ballard side, near Trader Joe's and the Ballard Greenlake (the empty lot across from T-Js...that I may paddle one of these days:)
The start of this paddle takes you through the Lake Washington Ship Canal and provides plenty of Instagram-fodder with barges and tons of metal-ish stuff.
As you head East you'll go under the Fremont and Aurora (it's really called the George Washington Memorial Bridge) bridges, by Gasworks park (to the North) and the City (to the South).
After about 45 mins to an hour & 1/2 (depending on your kayak/wind/how many pictures you take/sun-bathing) you'll arrive at Ivar's Salmon House. It's on the Northside of the lake just before the I-5 and University bridges. We were lucky that the patio was open this early in the season (they said they opened it last minute due to the nice weather). We grabbed a drink, took a break, and eventually took off back to 14th ave.
Total time on the water for us: 3 hours-ish
Free parking and lots of spots at 14th ave: yep
Tides?: nope, it's a lake.
Salty?: nope, it's a lake. Food at Ivar's is salty.
Choppy? not too bad.
Sunny on this trip for you next weekend?: ? ;)
~Paul, Vic -ETC
We took the club on the road yet again, this time stopping by the Port Ludlow Marina (where we had sailed before). They have a nice little platform that I launched a kayak from (pic below). I went out of the bay and paddled Northward towards Colvos Rocks, a popular diving destination (map here).
The entire trip only took a couple of hours (at our typical ETC leisurely stroll - inflatable kayak plus taking tons of pictures every 5 minutes). Always watch the tides, currents, and wind - as you can see in the pics, it was super still for me. Total mileage roundtrip was around 4 miles.
Wildlife was in abundance - On the trip I saw otters, heron, eagles, harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and plenty of sea stars.
You could hug the shore on this trip but it would add to your mileage considerably...I went straight for the rocks to save time, with all of my safety gear including wearing my drysuit...
With the right planning, safety gear, and conditions, a great trip for everyone. Don't want to paddle as far but still wanna see the rocks? Try putting in nearby in Mats Mats Bay.
The Mrs. and I took a little day trip to Fort Flagler, one of the three forts guarding (or once guarding) the waterway leading to Seattle. The other two - Fort Worden and Fort Casey - were visible across the water. This fort is just south of Port Townsend (but a little farther to drive than you think because you have to drive around the Bay to Marrowstone).
Fort Flagler has lots of trails, a campground & RV area, plenty of beach, tall bluffs with great views, a small museum, bunkers to explore, and even old remodeled houses to rent (I bet staying here on a full moon would be magical with the surrounding water and the lack of street lights). Don't forget, these days you'll need a Discover Pass to park at Fort Flagler (and every State park it seems), but this was totally worth it!
~Paul & Amber ETC
P.S. After looking through the fort museum and reading about the rich history of the place I decided to give my pics from this trip the black and white treatment. Enjoy!
Springing the clocks forward has helped our 'kayak after work before it gets dark' cause. What's that gold thing out there? The sun? Have you started your own 'paddle after work before it gets dark' plan? Do it.
~Paul & Amber ETC
Hello club members! We've been adventuring our hearts out lately, enjoying some much needed Pacific Northwest sun. In our last kayaking post we shared our recent trip paddling down part of the South fork of the Skagit River. Well, as we mentioned, the trip didn't end there. Oh no. It had just begun. They say that an adventure doesn't really start until something goes wrong, well then, our adventure started when I emptied out of the Skagit River into the Skagit Bay & the Puget Sound.
Let me back up so you can really appreciate my mistake. You see, I've been slowly adding gear to my kayak over the years, especially when I'm paddling by myself (I recently saw a magazine article that claimed to break the "taboo of kayaking alone"...I was like, "I almost always paddle alone...there's a taboo?"). The water here in the PNW is cold all year round so safety is a top priority. I've got a dry-suit, a compass, a sail, an emergency oar, a bilge-pump, matches, an emergency blanket, a mirror to signal, a cell phone, maps, water, food, boots, a patch kit for the kayak, rescue tape, dry bags, whistles, sun block, and still more!
The one thing I forgot on this trip? A rookie mistake - I didn't check the tides and/or a chart. I had expected to kayak only in La Conner that day but when I investigated the weather and water on the South fork of the Skagit, (not to mention the thought of operation snow geese), I decided to grab all of that gear and go for it...at the end of the day I discovered that I had paddled a good 8 or so miles against a light wind and against the tide the entire time (even against the max current for awhile)...nice one. And by paddled I mean, paddle-paddle, drag bottom, get out, walk, drag kayak, sit, paddle-paddle, drag bottom, repeat. I literally had to walk/drag for over a mile. It was terrible. Let's take a look shall we!
Hmmm, that's a nice little sandbar. It's pretty shallow here...maybe...I...should...have...checked a chart or something!
Just click on the 'sat' button in the top right corner of the Google map above and you'll see what I mean. Silty. Just plain silty. I left from the Skagit State Wildlife Recreation Area and paddled towards Ika and Goat islands, went around them, and up the Swinomish into La Conner. There were a few birds along the way (not the thousands of snow geese I was hoping for).
The pic below about sums it up.
But not as good as this slideshow (click on the pic below).
Alas, as I paddle/walked my way to deeper water I was so excited that I could just sit and paddle without having to stop and get out. It was so amazing that over the course of this trip I was far from shore but could see the bottom and most of the time I could touch it with my paddle if I wanted to...crazy! (crazy for the NW at least, it's the norm on some of my Caribbean adventures). Deeper water meant kayaking towards the two islands pictured below for hours and eventually going around the one on the left to enter the Swinomish Channel (even though I found out about a 'hole in the wall' short cut later, I didn't want to risk it at the time).
Well, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger - I made it to the first public boat launch in La Conner, just past the rainbow bridge, in about 5 hours. After researching the trip more (after I had already done it!) I could have probably cut the 8-10 mile paddle down to about 3 hours by taking some short cuts, watching the charts, and maybe even paddling it in reverse (although paddling up the Skagit river didn't really seem like a good idea). I did spy a longer but great trip idea - paddling down the North fork and then around to La Conner...hopefully I'll plan better for that one!