Touring 18 Scouts around San Juan Island

6.21.22 - We picked up the scouts at 8am sharp from the San Juan County Fair Grounds. They were all stoked to get out on the water after a night with little sleep, anxious for the upcoming trip we had ahead of ourselves. We loaded up gear in our trailer and two vans, and headed down to Jackson Beach to launch. We arrived at the beach and unloaded all 13 kayaks, 11 tandems and 2 singles, for myself and Madeleine, my co-guide for the trip. It was a beautiful day for being out in nature, and everyone was feeling ready to get out and play. After a brief but full orientation, we got out on the water. It took about 10 minutes to get all of the scouts together on the water. They all set off in different directions as soon as we launched them, and the struggle was real. Communicating over the water is hard when everyone is 5-10 meters apart and 200+ meters away from you. Madeleine and I did our best to corral everyone together, and we were on our way to the Griffin Bay DNR site, our campground for night one of the trip. Due to the nature of having a large group, as we made progress, the faster people raced ahead, in a race against each other. I stayed at the front with the speedsters, and Madeleine sweeper behind, making sure we didn’t have any issues or drop anyone off the back of our posse. We went around the west side of Dinner Island, stopping to check out the island and be waved at by one of the islands resident raccoons. We crossed the small channel to the shoreline of SJI, and made our way south. As we rounded Low Point, I spotted an eagle on the rocks, hunting for prey. Everyone was in awe at the beauty of the bird, a relic of the San Juan’s. San Juan Island is home to the largest amount of mating pairs of Bald Eagles in the lower 48, so seeing an Eagle is almost always guaranteed. We landed at Griffin Bay DNR around noon, and the scouts were eager to get some food in them. Madeleine and I followed suite after making sure all of the kayaks were brought above the high tide line; we didn’t want any to be swept away by the coming tide.

After a long lunch and some rock skipping and beach foraging, we set off with most of the scouts on a hike up Mount Finlayson. Some of the scouts stayed back to relax and nap, tired out from the morning paddle. The hike was a blast for everyone, we walked a mile and a half down the shoreline, skipping stones and walking along the driftwood. After we got to a trail, we started hiking up the mountain. Mount Finlayson has a fascinating ecosystem. The entire eastern side of it is filled with Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, and Shore Pine trees, among many other species of flora. The western side of the mount is all grassy, red fescue among other grasses, as well as small shrubs like Nootka Rose and Camas, a small tuber plant that was cultivated by Native Americans in the early days. The views at the top are spectacular. You look southeast and see the Cascade Range, below that is the Cattle Point Lighthouse, a historical relic. Directly south, Mount Rainier sticks out above the Saratoga Passage, and further west, the Olympic Mountain range, still snow capped from a snowy winter. To the northwest, you see Vancouver Island and it’s vast mountain ranges, and to the north, the old American Camp that the first white settlers of the island set up. We made our way back to camp, everyone tired out from the mugginess of the day.

At the end of the day, we ate an amazing dinner I had prepared the night before, a filling meal of chicken marsala packed with carrots, bell pepper, and cabbage, mixed into a bed of long grained jasmine rice. It was great eating next to a small fire of drift wood we collected on the shoreline. We hung around the fire and told stories before falling asleep in our hammocks between the two larger trees in the campground.

6.22.22 - I woke up to the glow of a rising sun this morning. It made the sky a brilliant shade of orange, glowing over Mount Baker and Lopez Island. I knew then it would be a great day. I went down to the water and dove in, the cold ocean felt fantastic on my skin, and instantly energized me. I did a yoga and meditation session on the beach before heading back up to camp to help everyone pack up