Summer’s hot weather has finally arrived in Seattle, so to beat the heat we decided to go kayaking in the San Juan Islands to one of my favorite islands, Clark Island last weekend. We were all packed up and ready to go on Thursday night when I decided I should check the marine forecast just in case of a high wind advisory or fog, which sometimes happens when we have hot weather, and sure enough a “…SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH MONDAY… ” warning in bright red bold letters.
Damn it, but at least it’s better to know that now than when we’re standing on the shore looking across Rosario Strait full of white caps and a very hairy 3 mile crossing. Some people may not realize, but capsizing out there is a life threatening situation. The water temp of the Puget Sound is a bone chilling 49 degrees in summer and if you’re not able to right yourself in your kayak you’ll have about 40 minutes until you repeat the scene in the movie Titanic when Leonardo disappears into the deep. Well, it’s not quite as cold as the North Atlantic, but it’s a real and present danger when we’re kayaking and I do not take it lightly. Actually after a recent close call we’ve started wearing our wetsuits if we have a big crossing.
Well enough about death and more about living, so our new plan was to hike up to Tuck and Robin Lakes in the North Cascades just outside of Salmon La Sac, WA. We’ve done this hike once before a couple years ago in late September and it snowed on us. It got so cold that night the lake started to steam. That sometimes happens in the mountains in early fall, so we vowed to come back some time when there’s a better chance for good weather. Well I didn’t think it would be on the hottest day of the summer, since it’s a really hard steep hike and it’s not just the 3,200′ of elevation gain in 8 miles, but the trail itself. It’s literally straight up a mountain side with loose rock, roots, big drops and is completely exposed to the sun on the hardest part of the hike.
Ok, so I know it’s gonna be really long, hard, hot hike, so you’d think that I’d pack light. Sure that’s logical, but nooooohhhh, I’ve got to drag my Canon 5D, 17-35mm, 70-200mm and a tripod up there along with the extra water, and one celebratory beer for making it. Luckily I knew that I was going to need some extra motivation for this hike and normally I’d never think about bringing my ipod on a hike, but this is going to be a 5.5 hour slog up a hot dusty trail with a heavy pack, so I though it would be better than listening to my own heavy breathing. Wow, what a difference that made. Nothing like some old school rock to get you moving and I really liked the songs the shuffle was dishing up. It really made that grueling climb so much more enjoyable, so that’s my tip for this entry. That and Gatorade.
The shot above is of our camp site, which was gorgeous. The lake was diamond clear, but mind numbing cold as I found out after diving as soon as we got there. Now that I’ve got my pack off and the tent is set up I’m ready to get my camera and go explore. I’ve heard there were lots of mountain goats in the area and right on que I see two walking very close to our neighbor’s tent. I see it as a good photo op, so I grab my camera gear and go. After a quick hike around the lake I get within 30 yards of two goats, but as soon as the bigger of the two sees me, he charges me. I mean he’s running right for me at speed and I’m not sure what he’s going to do. I’ve been within arms length of mountain goats a dozen of times, but I’ve never been charged before. I’m not too sure what that was about, but he gave me the stare down and just kept on going.
I know these goat crave salt, so they’ll eat the dirt where you pee, so it’s best to do your business on a rock or dirt, since they’ll tear up any plants or grass that have been peed on, which causes an enormous amount of erosion and plant damage.
Since I was in the area I introduced myself to our neighbors who had a great camp site with a panoramic view of Mt. Daniel, but it seems to have even more bugs than our site closer to the lake if that is at all possible. The bugs here were bad, I mean swarming around your head in a black cloud bad. I’ve found that jumping in after a hard hike really helps reduce the bug nuisance, but so does Deet, so I opt for a good dose of both.
The rest of the day went fast and we sat and watched the sky turn pink to deep blue while eating our deluxe Mac and Cheese and H.H. of rum and fruit flavored Gatorade. With the night sky filled with stars and with no threat of rain we slept without the rain fly on our tent to enjoy the stars and the occasional meteor.
We slept well despite the goats tromping around our tent at night and awoke to another glorious day. We made a leisurely breakfast, since the bugs seem to be sleeping in that day and sit there soaking up the gorgeous views bathed in soft morning light. Looking at the surrounding mountains we get decided to go for a little hike. Well, a little hike turned into a big hike to the top of Granite Peak, but the views were well worth the effort. On the way up we got to see a whole family of mountain goats and this little kid goat was just so adorable that I had to take several shots of him crying out for his mamma.
One last shot of the sun setting over Mt. Daniel on our hike out.
Even though it was a really hard hike and the bugs were terrible we had an absolutely fantastic time and I’d highly recommend it.
We topped off this weekend with a well deserved beer and pizza at Village Pizza in Roslyn WA.
Mmm, hot pizza and cold beer!!!
Yes, there is a heaven on Earth.