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Test Lab Hike–San Juan Island Kayaking, part 6 of 6

Posted by joeabbott on November 5, 2011

Day 5


Kayaking - San Juan Islands 341This is the last of six parts:

Part 1: Intro
Part 2: San Juan Island to Jones Island
Part 3: Jones Island to Blind Bay and back
Part 4: Jones Island to Griffin Bay Park
Part 5: Walking tour of San Juan Island NP
Part 6: Going home


Today was short on the “annual outing” and longer on the “just getting home”.

We got up with the sun and didn’t worry about ceremony: packing was a well-practiced habit for everyone. Once we were done enjoying our respective breakfasts and all calls for “anyone need more hot water?” were answered with mute silence, we went about packing.

Putting a point on “packing”: we each made a pile of our gear, found a stuff sack that looked like it had room, and rammed in the one more <blank> until the sack was full. Then we’d ferry them to the kayak, find a space, and hope everything fit.

At this point we looked at our excess water, including the full and sealed gallon I’d bought up at the Shaw Ferry Terminal, and Tim suggested leaving it for a subsequent party by the sign-in board. Another good idea.

And, as I reread what I’ve already written, I feel I have omitted a bit about our tent.

At the end of last year’s hike, the tent we’d used for the past decade or so was clearly in need of replacement. During this summer I looked into our options and settled on a Columbia 8-man tent. Or something like that. It was ridiculously large but over the years we’ve found that we all just like our space. Multi-day trips in an area that sees a lot of rain requires room and then some for everyone. However, that space translates into two things: the need for a lot of ground space, and a strong back: it weighs a ton! Or, 26# to be more exact.

On this trip neither space nor weight were issues: the campsites were intended for large groups and the kayaks were plenty buoyant. I’m nervous about next year but this time everything worked out fine.

Anyhow, we all grabbed the refuse and flotsam that were ours from the tent, piled our respective junk in a “corner” of the camp, and got to a point where the tent was empty and we could take it down. At this point we had to be careful: while setting the tent up, Ron managed to break the shock cord in one of the poles and, as the tent was something like 8’x16’ with a 6’ peak, it was big and unwieldy. But, it finally came down.

Dan and I managed to fold the tent into a respectable cylinder of nylon and, about that time, Ron and Tim presented me with a wad of fabric that’d been the fly. How two reasonably educated and (moderately) physically competent guys can booger up folding a fly is beyond me. But, that’s Ron and Tim: their apathy was clearly saying, “let’s get home”.

And after refolding the fly and loading the kayaks, that was the next step.

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 345Kayaking - San Juan Islands 340I was eager for Dan to get his stuff into the kayak and for us to take it out for another short paddle before we headed back. Ron was (again) taking forever to pack and so we had a little time. But, Dan was trying to reach someone on his Blackberry and fiddling with email and all that. I was impatient and had to remind myself to just settle down.

Later I learned that he was trying to reach his doctor to make an appointment for later that day. We first thought he was nursing a cold but his continued illness was making it clear something else was brewing.

Kayaking - San Juan Islands 346So, as the skies were heavy and grey, the air with a bit of chill in it, and the water all a-chop, we waited for Dan to finish his phone call and Ron to finish packing.

And then we called it a trip.

Ron and Tim manned their craft, Dan and I were in ours. We walked the kayaks into the manky pool that is south Griffin Bay, the folks in the back slipped in first, the people in front followed, and we pushed off.

Within roughly an hour after launching we were back at the beach from which we’d launched 4-5 days prior. I liked the variety of the jostling waves and the swells and said as much. Dan wasn’t playing along: “no thank you; I’ll take the sun and calm waters any day.”

imageBut, for all the expedience we showed in getting to the beach, we might as well have taken our time. The tour guides forgot about picking us up and it wasn’t 2-3 hours until they showed up with bags we’d left upon leaving and transportation to the ferry. By that time we’d missed the early boats and were in Friday Harbor around noon, just in time for a burger and fries at the Blue Water Bar and Grill just off the docks.

But, when the boat did come in, we all grabbed our bags and headed to the ferry.

On the ride back we ran into our friends Anne and Danny again and they were frantic. Missing the early ferry made them late for their shuttle into Seattle and, being from CA, they had few resources to lean on. We took pity on them and offered rides. They hesitantly, but gladly, accepted.

And so it was six people in Dan’s king cab truck all the way to his house north of Seattle. We took a short break there and chilled a bit before Tim and I took them as far as Redmond in Tim’s Corolla (or some little car like that), where we finally transferred into my car. At that point I just headed across the water and into Seattle before heading south to home. I dropped them off in Bell Town, warned them about walking those streets too late into the evening, and bid them farewell.

And from there I drove in silent happiness to my house, getting in around 7 PM or so. I showered, sat quietly with Suzanne, and pet my cats. It was a brilliant trip but I was happy to finally be home.


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