Monday, August 1, 2016

San Juan Expedition Part 3

Sucia Island Touring - Tuesday May 3th (Day #5)

We woke up to cloudy skies after a few showers during the night. After breakfast Robyn, Kari and I decided that we would spend the day hiking around the island looking for some of the geocaches on the island. Michael and Lynn decided that they would circumnavigate the island by kayak and hopefully we would see them while we were hiking.

It's hard to imagine that this jewel of an island only cost $25,000 back in 1960.

Sucia Island has over 10 miles of hiking trails weaving along the shoreline or through the forest that covers most of the island. Like we do on most of our trips, Robyn uses her GPS to find any geocaches that might be in the area so we decided to head towards Ewing Cove locating several caches along the way with the last one giving us a view of the Cluster Islands. One of the great things about Sucia Island is that it has over 60 campsites spread out through the 564-acre marine park and we soon found out that we were the only ones actually camping on the island during our stay.

A view of the two privately owned Finger Islands and Matia Island
3 miles in the distance from the Echo Bay campsites

Walking along the shoreline trail high above the water near Wiggins Reef we spotted Michael and Lynn paddling into Echo Bay. From our vantage point we could see Matia and Clark Islands and all the way down to Lawrence Point several miles away.

We spotted Lynn and Michael while hiking to Ewing Cove

We came across several of the Washington State Parks composting outhouses that I consider to be 5 star in terms of camping amenities and the one at Ewing Cove just might have been my favorite on the whole trip.

I never thought outhouses would be so attractive to visit and look at.

Not the usual thing that one finds in a geocache. LOL

Our return route was via Shallow Bay which was home for many of the Chinese workers who were illegally imported as laborers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Contrary to the name, the Chinese hid in the forest and not in the China Caves that can be found at Shallow Bay.

Shallow bay offers a big sandy crescent moon beach with several campsites

The China Caves that weren't actually used by Chinese workers to hide in. Still, pretty cool to see.

Returning back to camp I spent some time setting up my hammock for a much needed nap and then went to work rigging up a shower area in a vacant campsite nearby.

I rigged a tarp to provide privacy in our shower area near the edge of a cliff in the site next to us.

We noticed a large group of people walking up the trail from the Echo Bay marina and they turned out to be part of a Sucia Island tour from Orcas Island. As we watched them look around Fossil Bay we noticed a couple with Geocaching patches on their packs and talked with them for a bit. They told us that on the way to the island they spotted a pod of orca not far from shore close to our location and as luck would have it, we were out hiking during that time.

Lots of fossil on the cliff side near our campsite.

We spent the rest of the day checking out the fossils on the cliff near the camp or just lounging around camp as Kari spotted what looked to be very large sandpipers with long curved beaks on the beach below us. Checking my bird book, we figured out that they were migrating Whimbrels which we had never seen before. After dinner we sat around the campfire and checked the 9:30pm forecast only to be surprised by a building NW 20+ knot wind forecast that was supposed to happen during the middle of the night.

Waiting for Patos Island - Wednesday May 4th (Day #6)

Right on schedule just around midnight the NW 20 knot winds came up fast and started rattling our little camp. After having very little wind at all on the trip it was a bit annoying trying to sleep while our tarps and tents took the brunt of the gusts that came through our little tombolo campsite.

When we finally woke up in the morning the skies were overcast with a little drizzle and the winds were continuing to blow pretty good. Listening to the extended forecast it looked like we might see the winds start to diminish later in the day and we decided that might be our opportunity to head towards Patos Island only 3 miles north of us.

Riding out the drizzle Kari's does some reading and I work on a taut knot that Michael showed me.

In the meantime, we suited up in our rain gear and all went for a little hike to EV Henry Point to locate a geocache and get some great views of the area from high up on the cliffs above the fossil beds.

Michael, Robyn, Kari and Lynn

Great view from EV Henry Point. Saturna Island way in the distance and our little campsiteon the
tombolo under the trees. From this location wecould see how the current was interacting with the
NW winds.

We had no idea what the heck this trail marker meant other than maybe "You are here" LOL

Returning to camp we made lunch and decided to head out on another hike to Johnston Point but half way there the sun started to come out and the winds slowly started to reside. We had a little group discussion and decided to head back to camp to pack up and wait for an opportunity to head to Patos Island.

Launching towards the sunset for Patos Island.
We had a window of opportunity to make a run for the island and off we went.

Just after 5pm we took to the water and paddled in choppy conditions due to the wind and current working against us but we managed to land on Patos Island at around 7pm.

Our kayaks tied up for the night near the campsite kiosk

The main camping area that is exposed to the elements.

The camping area was on a nice little point that offers views of Sucia Island to the south and Saturna Island to the north but we found a site protected from the wind in the trees.

What might be home for the next couple of days. Nice and cozy if the winds keep howling.

The winds continued to decrease a bit and we were blessed with one of the most amazing sunsets that I have ever seen as we sat around a campfire on the point to watch the sun go down. Just before heading to bed we checked the forecast for the next day and it wasn’t looking good with the NW winds stating to blow again overnight. It was beginning to look like we might be staying on Patos Island for a couple of days.

2016 Paddle #21 - Sucia Island to Patos Island
Distance: 3.09 nm (5.72 km)
Trip: 53.03 nm (98.21 km)
YTD: 198.92 nm (368.40 km)

Note: More pictures of the entire San Juan Islands trip can be found by following the link HERE

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