Map of the San Juans (courtesy of this site)
Whew! What a weekend! R. Darling took me on my very first overnight kayaking/camping trip and it was both physically and emotionally trying and yet somehow entirely amazing, all at once.
Heading home on Saturday with a smile this time….
Friday afternoon found us with a fully loaded truck arriving in Anacortes around 4PM for what was supposed to be a 4PM launch from the Guemes Island ferry dock (if you’ve ever kayaked or camped, you know that it takes a long ass time to load your gear so we were already incredibly late). Once there, we discovered that there was no overnight parking, so the plan was amended and we were forced to launch from Washington Park instead.
Leaving so late and having so much farther to go before our first crossing left us in bad shape with the currents, so despite my optimism for a lovely evening of paddling, things turned out much differently for me. Usually I think of myself as someone who is strong for their size, and I very rarely think of myself as a small or weak person. But after battling the currents that pounded us after our first crossing, and again towards the end of our second crossing, I couldn’t help but feel tiny and helpless in the face of all that rushing water. R. Darling will tell you I’m a trooper and I did well, but he didn’t see me avert my face as I tried not to burst into tears of frustration as I paddled and paddled, my heart pounding, and my kayak standing still as I battled to move it forwards against the water that inexorably pushed me backward. Yet, I made it. And once ashore, with the campsites staked out and gear being unloaded, I sat and ate that once-in-a-lifetime guilt-free candy bar and didn’t regret a single second of it. I’d earned that hunk of sugar. Who cared if it went to my thighs? Because these arms and this back had carried me to safety. They deserved a reward.
We camped just to the left of our kayaking partners’ tent on this bluff
You would expect the Cypress Head campsites (we stayed just off Cypress Island on what’s called a tombolo) to be nearly empty this early in the year, but blame it on the one nice day we’ve had in weeks, or just plain old spring fever. Whatever the case, most of the campsites were taken by the time we got there. As we settled in for a pasta dinner cooked over tiny campstoves, and a cup of warm cider, the springtime darkness moved in and we eventually headed to our cozy sleeping bags. Not long after, we were roused from an almost sleep by a rather drunken and poorly sung rendition of Credence’s “Bad Moon Rising” played at full blast on a guitar and a rather tooty sounding accordion. Hoping the interruption would end soon, we rolled over and tried to sleep again, only to be woken momentarily by another Credence song assaulting our ears. Who goes to the wilderness to make noise? I just don’t get it. If it’s noise you want, stay on your sailboat please. Finally, around midnight, R. Darling had had enough and he went over to politely ask them to keep it down. At which point he was told to stick his flashlight in a rather small, dark, uncomfortable place that would make it pretty difficult to sit down. You don’t tell R. Darling something like that and expect him to play nice. The gloves were off. Luckily some of the other drunkards stepped in and nothing came to blows. Blissful silence.
The next morning we woke up early and though we were tempted to walk down to the other camp and bang some pots and pans Tanisha from Bad Girls Club style (no, we don’t watch the show, but we do watch The Soup!) we decided to check out the other parts of the tombolo instead and take some photos.
Do I smell hot chocolate?
A mysterious and beautiful island flower
R. Darling just leaving the beach at Cypress Head
The paddle back was much more enjoyable this time and we managed to hitch a bit of a ride on the current, making our crossings easier and quicker. We took a short break while waiting for the ferries to load and unload and then made our way back to Washington Park. Though I had a rough time on the way out and I’m in no way close to paddling shape, I enjoyed camping with R. Darling and seeing a place that can only be experienced from the water. We got to see some creatures (porpoises and eagles) and spent some quality time together. All in all, a great trip and I’d do it again as long as I don’t have to work quite so hard for that candy bar next time ;)
Waiting for the ferries
A couple that kayaks together, stays together!