Friday Harbor

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Hammersley Inlet
Friday Harbor
Willapa Bay
Cape Flattery
Guide Training
Elkhorn Slough

Report from Steve

N 48 32.25'
W 123 01.03'

The first conscious thought I had Friday morning was of the wind whipping through the trees. A quick check of the weather confirmed what my ears where already telling me; Small Craft Advisory issued for the San Juan Islands. Alissa and I where in Anacortes to guide a club, 'The Penguin Paddlers', from Redding California. I had never met anyone in this group before and had no idea what their skill level would be or what the day would have in store for us. We were embarking on a four day island hop beginning in Anacortes, ending at Friday Harbor and I could only hope that they were up for the challenges.


The Penguin Paddlers starting their journey

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2005 Azimuth Expeditions. All rights reserved

I need not have worried. I realized as I watched them store both their personal and the group gear in their kayaks that their mentor, Garth Schmeck, had done a great job of preparing them for this trip. Indeed, although this was a large group of twelve, their skill level and willingness to chip in on all aspects of the trip made our jobs as guide a pleasure.

As we made our way across Guemes Channel through the chop, the tail wind we were enjoying started to calm and by the time we arrived at Cypress Island the seas had started to lay down. Our first bald eagle watched over us as we took a break under his perch near the shore. Regrouping we headed over to the first campsite on Strawberry Island where, during the night the skies cleared and the Milky Way became visible.

Our second day we threaded our way into the heart of the San Juans. Along the way we witness an otter lunching on a sea urchins, Dall's porpoises, and even a mature bald eagle float on the water after a missed strike. That night we camped at Spencer's Spit State park where we enjoyed swamping stories around the camp fire. Garth went for a night paddle and reported that the diatoms where out in full force creating an incredible bioluminescent light show around his paddle and boat.

Our journey's end came with everyone doing a quick souvenir run through Friday Harbor, but not before we spent a night on Turn Island where we all enjoyed picking out our dream homes across the water over on the big island. It became obvious that the charm of the San Juan island group is the balance that has been achieved between the residences and wildlife. Likewise the charm of this trip has been the new friendships sparked that I'm sure will be rekindled over the months to come.

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