A Look Back at the San Juans

San Juans SunsetI’ve almost completely recovered from my knee injury this summer…haven’t actually gotten on whitewater or surf with my paddleboard, but ready to get back after it! In the meantime, having just spent a few days in the San Juans it gave me an opportunity to reminisce about past visits to this beautiful area.  The trip I particularly cherish was a commercial trip I supported with TCKC a few years back.  It was a great crew…two awesome guides and Julia,  support staff.  Finally, myself to help the clients who might need anything from an apple at the very bottom of our kitchen gear after just cleaning up, to paddle tips and guidance on the water.

The TCKC staff headed out very early the day before the trip to drive the substantial distance (about 9 hours) to Anacortes where we’d camp, greet clients and ready ourselves for an even earlier next day (loading the first ferry).  Sidenote: I think the “behind the scenes” with guide staff is really fun.  It’s a special dynamic of teammates making it happen together.  Sharing the “stoke” and also the “ugggh”.  One thing is for sure–the worst day on a guided trip is better than any day in the office. Our team got along particularly well, and we enjoyed our pre-trip dinner with a handful of the guests.

Official day #1…early rise and successful load onto the ferry.  Gorgeous weather and chit chatting throughout the 90 minute or so ride.  Then onto our launch site where we promptly and efficiently…like a herd of turtles…re-packed gear, redistributing and sharing the clients’ load.  Then, onto Patos!  With 2-foot chop and several clients who were fairly anxious about the conditions, it was a little rowdy and we had to stay on our toes.  Eventually we all made it over to Patos a spectacular location.  What a great little uninhabited island, with the exception of a lighthouse on the far end, and a shitter about 1/4 mile from the grassy camp area.  Perfect!!  There were campfires, there was whiskey.  There was plenty of great food and laughter (see “whiskey”).

The next day was an optional paddle to Sucia to restock water, or a crew of us that stayed back while I led a yoga/stretch session overlooking the ocean.  With the free time after, I was more than happy to go for a run around the island trail (twice).  Checked out the lighthouse (cool!) and then back to camp to prep for dinner.  Night two, a trip highlight with a late night paddle…sans clients.  Nothing but the stars and some bioluminescence to light our way.  Little did we know that when we reached the tip of little Patito island, we also lost our protected bay and met 4 foot (at least) standing waves. Considerable waves.  But we were up to the challenge and had a hoot hollerin’ time.  Literally.  We hooted and hollered and I remember, like it was yesterday, as we “rafted up” in our kayaks, giving hugs and yelling “Isn’t life GRAND?!” just as Bo (one of the guides) looked down and asked “Sue, where is your paddle?”.  An offering to the ocean gods and maybe a lucky Canadian as the current was definitely heading that direction.

Life IS grand.  The rest of the trip was good too.  The ocean turned to glass the following morning and the typical fun paddling, campfires, paddle back and unpacking ensued.  That’s the great thing about trips like this–whether a river trip, multi-day sea-kayaking tour or ocean retreat–there’s just something about the water and positive energy that surrounds it.  Doesn’t have to involve waves or rapids (although I kinda like it when it DOES).  Leaving the cement jungle and reconnecting with mama earth and the water is a special luxury.  And if you haven’t done anything like this before, I recommend you do.  There’s something to fit every level of experience.  Give me a shout if you want some tips.

As always, thanks for listening….

Sue San Juans SuciaHank teaching some skillzHank teaching some skillz twoHank teaching some skillz threeSan Juans Sucia Sunset


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