Kayakerackin' 2012

We knew at the close of last year's trip that it would be a tough one to beat. Perfect weather and whales just don't happen every day, you know, no matter what Seattle whale-watching brochures try to make you think. It rains here. And the whales are onto us.  

So this year went big: 3 days. 7 boats. 2 uninhabited islands only accessible by our 7 boats (and a small handful of other kayaks, sailboats, and motor boats). And to up the whale ante, we went to them (last year apparently they came to us). Straight to the source of everything Orca: the San Juan Islands.
"I'm 'a get'chu whales!''
Porter scored for us a homestay with the mom of a friend's girlfriend, Kay, who took us in a fed us probably the most visually appealing (and a contender for among the most delicious) meals I've ever had. Fresh caught shrimp grilled and spicy; fruit salad and green salad, both vibrant and bright; and crusty bread.
Don't drool on your keyboard
We knew day one would be ambitious, but I should have guessed by Porter's nonchalant reference to the challenge and what seemed at the time to be random emphasis on how important hard work is in building character that ambitious for Porter is just near soul-crushing for everyone else. And by everyone else, I mostly mean me, because there was more than one moment when, paddling against the tide in the vast valley between Mt. Constitution and Mt. Lummi when I truly considered floating back to Anacortes. Most of the miles we covered that day were actually pretty easy, it was just the final 6 where a slow tide pulled backward and the vastness of the water and tinyness of the boat mixed so that you just couldn't tell how much progress you we making. I just kept watching the three speed demons ahead of me, who have much more willpower than I, promising myself that if they could hit the beach, I could hit the beach. Also hoping that the two behind me were not too far behind. And cursing Porter for showing no fatigue. 'Don't talk to me. Just don't leave me paddling alone here, because I just might give up. And cry.'

We did make it. All of us (Trent and Maria made and extra lap on accident) and we spent 3 pm onward lounging on the sandy, sun baked beach on Clark Island drying out our bones and delighting in the fact that we weren't dead or drowned or suffering permanent emotional damage from the day.

And I've never seen a more glorious moonrise.

Sunday was Porter's birthday, an event I worried far too much about in preparation for the weekend. If there's anything P could want for his birthday it would be nothing more than enjoying nature, boats, and physical challenge with good friends. Or boat shoes. I gave him Necco wafers before breakfast, decorated his kayak for him to see in the morning, and had a small sentimental gift and a breakfast cookie with birthday candles for him to blow out (send from his thoughtful mom via Tiftin).

I'll call wilderness birthday a success. I'm just now realizing that his birthday will fall on Labor Day weekend almost 50% of the time, so it may not be the last wilderness birthday.
Rockin' the spray skirt
Birthday King
Festooned vessel
Our Sunday paddle was short and relatively mellow, except for a precarious stretch in the middle where I had a very short panic attack when two currents converged nearby and seemed to chase me down. Cypress Island's lakes were far too reedy for swimming but my arms certainly appreciated the change of pace and my legs and butt the exercise.

Monday morning was by far my favorite. A foggy morning blocked out all the islands but the closest mini-rocks, making for an almost seamless flow of pure white sky into silky gray water like GLASS. 

We paddled as a group for once, for the first part of the morning. 7 flecks of bright yellow and red and blue with paddles and birds making the only waves. Who knew the ocean could be so still.

The fog burned off after about an hour and we shot (seriously, the current make it so FAST!) across the channel back to Anacortes. Next year: Vancouver Island!
Tiftin, Trent, Maria, Russ, Porter, Kami, Jill

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