Report from Ken
N 48° 20.68'
W 124° 40.39'
An early start from Tacoma got us to Port Angeles at 8am, where we
met up with Marc, who had driven down the night before from
Whidbey Island. Another 90 minutes down that long and
winding road put us at Neah Bay, where we got ready to
launch near the mouth of the Wa'atch river.
There were eight of us altogether, mostly Azimuth guides: Kari,
Steve, Alan, John, Corky, Alissa, Ken and Marc. For most of
us, who had paddled here before, this was a chance to get
back to what is one of the most beautiful and powerful
paddling spots in the world. For Kari and Alissa, it was a
first-time experience, and if they turn out to be anything
like the rest of us, it will be the first of many.
Stopping for last minute supplies
2005 Azimuth Expeditions. All rights reserved
We met for a few minutes with Janine Bowechop, a representative
from the Makah museum, before we took to the water. Janine
is helping to coordinate the trips that Azimuth will be
running to the area, offering a unique cultural perspective
on the region as well as world-class paddling. (The first
trip is scheduled for June of 2005, and there are others
already on the calendar.)
Conditions were calm for the most part, a small swell greeting us
as we exited the river mouth, but very little wind. The
current was running strong, however, and pushed us on our
way northward from Makah Bay. We had about an hour of
paddling along the coastline before we got to where the
standing rocks and arches began, getting more numerous and
magnificent as we got closer to the Cape. We wove our route
through and around the elegantly sculpted outcroppings,
feeling more like fortunate visitors to some beautiful
cathedral than mere kayakers.
We traveled through a few arches and small caves enroute to our
lunch stop, a tiny pocket beach just north of the Cape
lookout. The rain was falling steadily as we bunched
together under the overhanging cliffs and shared our meal,
each of us trading exclamations about our surroundings.
After we were done eating, we got back into the boats for some
kayak spelunking. The rain had stopped, and the cloud cover
was growing thinner, with hints of a blue sky afternoon on
the way. For the next couple hours, we played in the caves
and the arches, marveled at the size of the massive Cape
Cave and connected routes, using passages of stone, between
one little cove and another. At several points we stopped on
unnamed little beaches, just to get another perspective of
this amazing area.
On the return trip, the seas were a bit lumpier. The sun had burned
through, and with a little help from a rising breeze, the
clouds had been banished. The same breeze had made the water
a bit rougher though, and for much of the passage back to
the put-in, it seemed we bounced as much as we paddled. One
highlight of the return was when a large gray whale surfaced
just 30 feet off from John, Alan and Corky. His plume of
exhalation and a ridged back arching downward into the water
were all we saw as he sounded, but it gave all of us
paddlers another pause to consider the wonder of where we
were and the good fortune we had to share time in such a
Landing through the surf at the river mouth posed no great
problems; the tide was falling and the waves were small.
Current coming down the river was considerable, however, and
we worked hard at the end to get back to the vehicles. The
sun was still shining brightly as we finished our paddling
day. Boats loaded, wet gear stowed, we were on the road for
the long drive back to T-Town (with a stop in Port Angeles
for some Indian food, of course). Be back next month!