Paddling the San Juans With The J-Pod

Written by Pam

Paddling The San Juans With The J-Pod Read Jetsetters Magazine at Read this entire feature FREE with photos at:

Despite living in Seattle forrepparttar last 12 years, I'm basically a landlubber. The smallest boat I've been on in years was a small county ferry that holds 20 cars. So I was both nervous and excited to learn that I was going to get to write this review for a sea kayaking company that operates out of Friday Harbor, Washington on San Juan Island. The outfitters are called Outdoor Odysseys, andrepparttar 105328 name doesn't lie. Before I tell you aboutrepparttar 105329 hours spent paddling,repparttar 105330 aching muscles,repparttar 105331 spectacular scenery, orrepparttar 105332 gourmet food, let me start atrepparttar 105333 beginning.

Outdoor Odyssey offers numerous camping and kayaking trips throughoutrepparttar 105334 San Juan Islands in Puget Sound.

I sent an e-mail to Outdoor Odysseys as soon as I receivedrepparttar 105335 assignment. It was nearrepparttar 105336 end of summer and I wanted to make sure that there was still a weekend that would work for both of us. Sincerepparttar 105337 three day kayaking trip was essentially a backpacking trip on water, I figuredrepparttar 105338 warmerrepparttar 105339 weatherrepparttar 105340 better for camping and being that close torepparttar 105341 Puget Sound. Not only did they still have weekend trips open, but they sent me a packing list (!) and a longish form letter about howrepparttar 105342 trips worked, what I should expect both physically and scenery-wise, what kinds of wildlife I might see, and links to their web site so I could read other adventurers comments on what their trips were like. All of this information served two purposes: first, it helped me actually pack for something I had no experience doing, and second, it helped me feel that I would be in good hands and that I wouldn't have to worry about whetherrepparttar 105343 outfitters were qualified to lead a bunch of inexperienced kayakers on an expedition.

Since I was to meet them at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning, and since San Juan Island is a couple hours drive and an hour long ferry ride from Seattle, they suggested that I drive uprepparttar 105344 night before and see some of Friday Harbor beforerepparttar 105345 trip. The extra time in Friday Harbor also gave me a chance to get some ofrepparttar 105346 things onrepparttar 105347 packing list that I had neglected to get in Seattle

One tip: it's pretty easy to leave your car parked in Anacortes rather than driving it ontorepparttar 105348 ferry. It's slightly cheaper to park, but it's a lot more convenient. The San Juans are notorious for having long ferry lines and waits (I was stuck once on Orcas Island in a six hour ferry line), especially inrepparttar 105349 high season. If you don't need your car when you're there, don't bring it onrepparttar 105350 ferry.

Day 1

The morning for departure finally came! I schlepped my stuff down to where I was supposed to meetrepparttar 105351 guide and was introduced torepparttar 105352 other people who would be onrepparttar 105353 trip with us. Because it was nearrepparttar 105354 end ofrepparttar 105355 season, there were only four of us on this trip: our guide, Jesse; Melissa and Brandy, two police officers from southern California; and me. Ofrepparttar 105356 three newbies, Melissa hadrepparttar 105357 most experience with kayaks, though she had mostly been inrepparttar 105358 sit-on-top kind. Melissa decided that I was going to steer, a decision I'm sure she regrettedrepparttar 105359 rest ofrepparttar 105360 weekend as it took me at least a day to getrepparttar 105361 hang of it. Any time my attention wandered, so would we.

At Smallpox Bay, Jesse showed us how dry sacks worked (basically, waterproof duffle bags, but forrepparttar 105362 things inside to actually stay dry, you have to do a folding/latching trick withrepparttar 105363 opening). Then he showed us how to stow gear into a kayak (anywhere it fits, although you want to put things like sleeping bags that absolutely mustn't get wet into certain compartments). Finally, he showed us how to wear our gear, how to lockrepparttar 105364 skirt into place aroundrepparttar 105365 opening that we sat in so that water couldn't get insiderepparttar 105366 boat, how to paddle, and generally how to manipulaterepparttar 105367 boats. For safety, we also had a dry run of how to get back intorepparttar 105368 boat in case it capsized and a few other useful pointers like that.

Finally, after all this preparation, we got inrepparttar 105369 water. Literally. To launch a kayak, you pretty much have to wade out intorepparttar 105370 water untilrepparttar 105371 boat is 9/10ths afloat, and then straddle it before lowering your weight intorepparttar 105372 cockpit. I don't know aboutrepparttar 105373 ocean where you live, butrepparttar 105374 Puget Sound at 8 a.m. is kinda' chilly even on a warm day.

Jesse gave us a choice of destinations, and we all voted to head for Jones Island torepparttar 105375 east. Jones is a state park with a few campsites on it and some drinking water that lies between Orcas Island and San Juan Island, or in other words, onrepparttar 105376 complete opposite side of San Juan Island. Since there is no ferry service, you can only reach Jones if you're in a boat or kayak.

Our route would take us north along San Juan to Henry Island, and then down Spieden Passage (the guides refer to it as Spieden River sincerepparttar 105377 currents are so strong), and finally across to Jones to make camp forrepparttar 105378 night.

When you're kayaking, you can pretty much go anywhere, butrepparttar 105379 advantage to a kayak is that you can go as close torepparttar 105380 shore as you like. Paddling through inlets and along cliff faces is a whole other way to seerepparttar 105381 San Juans. That first day, we saw cormorant rookeries, jellyfish, sea otters and sea lions sunning themselves, and even a bald-headed eagle. All while being so close to a cliff face orrepparttar 105382 waves that you could literally reach out and touch them. The guides at Outdoor Odysseys have a strict policy of minimum impact, so if you see wildlife, you back away far enough so that you can observe without disturbing. We kept our eyes peeled for whales, but all we saw were whale boats -repparttar 105383 sightseeing, touristy kind rather thanrepparttar 105384 Moby Dick kind.


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