This blog covers trips from the book and other favorites. Contact Rob in Seattle: rob@robcasey.net or 206-465-7167

8/31/17

3 Easy Labor Day Weekend Paddle Escapes


Where to Paddle to Beat Crowds on 3 Day Weekends - 

Side Note: How to avoid ferry lines...

Departing from Seattle - If leaving Seattle at 5pm on Friday, take the Bremerton Ferry as there's rarely a big line. I'd rather be sipping a ferry IPA coasting through Rich Passage than sitting in a parking lot. Or leave super early (7am) or super late (9pm). For the Keystone and San Juan Island ferries get a reservation.

Coming Back Monday - Arrive before peak (before 3pm) or after 9pm. Oddly, the Bainbridge Ferry is often uncrowded on Sunday evenings. Kingston gets the huge crowds from Canada and WA folks from north of Seattle. Tacoma'ans take the bridge.

3 Epic Trips - 

Trip 32 - Hood Head. 15min from the Kingston Ferry, take the first Right off the Hood Canal Bridge then immediately another Right adjacent to the bridge and follow the steep road below the bridge to Shine State Tidelands and the beach. Launching there, paddle to Hood Head (The cool island seen from the bridge). There's a few boat-in homes on the island. Approach the south side and the long extended spit called Point Hannon. There's a driftwood dragon (seriously) about 50' long worth checking out. The wwta.org has a campsite on the east side. Aim for higher tides to explore ByWater Bay inside the head.




Trip #33 - Mat Mats Bay. Less than an hour from the Kingston Ferry, Mats Mats is a very protected inlet a few minutes north of Port Ludlow. Water will be calm and the narrow entry to the Sound is interesting. The rocks offshore often have large populations of harbor seals and birdlife. Views north are of Marrowstone and Whidbey Islands, Foulweather Bluff to the south. Take the first Right off the Hood Canal Bridge to Paradise Bay Road, then north of Pt Ludlow, take a Right on Vernon Road to it's end.




Trip #15 - Staycation in Seattle below the Magnolia Bluffs.  Launch from 32nd Ave W below Magnolia Village. Go east to the protected Elliott Bay Marina or west along the bluffs to explore the walk-in driftwood homes, the now closed treehouse and former foundations from the 1996 Magnolia landslide. One home is still intact but sits at a weird angle which is interesting to see. Further along check out the series of massive homes perched along Perkins Lane. There's some weird outdoor art pieces in there. At Four Mile Rock (large erratic boulder with range marker on top) the view opens up to Discovery Park and the West Point Lighthouse. Freighter waves can break nicely around the corner at lower tides. Watch for current that can push you to this point, but make it difficult to paddle back. Maybe aim for ebb going out, flood coming back.





Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

8/23/17

Bunker Spelunking Along the Strait

Following my interest from childhood of exploring and finding WW2 bunkers, recent research and bushwacking let me to a few more fire control stations and other oddities hidden in the North Olympic Peninsula woods.

It was interesting to see a Seattle Met article on another guy doing similar searches. But like him, I'm keeping these spots a secret for the sake of the land owners (liability) and it's rewarding to do the research and find an installment.  My research has only found a few of the bunch built in WW2 along the Strait. Many are on private land, DNR land or on questionable access locations (private or not?).

These are easily found with some bushwacking around Camp Hayden. A good distraction while waiting for the tide to rise along Crescent Bay..



sketchy entry to a small fuel room

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167













8/17/17

3 NW Paddling Getaways to Escape the Weekend Crowds

Looking to getaway but not sit in long ferry lines then get to your supposed remote campsite to find 30 tents already there?  Here's 3 paddle-in destinations to really get away...

1. Marrowstone Island /Trips 34 and 35.
Just across the bay from Port Townsend, this off the beaten path island is one of the least visited State Parks in the State. On hot summer weekends, the Cascadia Marine Trail campsite adjacent to the standard campsite should be free of other paddlers. Then slip into the park and/or paddle it's quiet shores to escape the masses.

The park is also home to Fort Flagler, a 1890's era harbor defense fort with an extensive bunker system to explore as well as 200' cliffs overlooking Admiralty Inlet, Whidbey and Port Townsend.

Strait of Juan de Fuca
Watch for currents of Marrowstone Point by the Light House. Smart planning with the currents can make it a fun adventure. Use Starpath's Puget Sound Currents to see how current work there.  The app Deep Zoom is another tool for understanding local currents.

The island can be accessed by driving there or paddling from Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Oak Bay Park or for the hardcore, from Whidbey.

2. Burrows Island, Anacortes. Trip #29
Burrows Island is 10 minute paddle from Skyline Marina in Anacortes. The campsite at Alice Bight is about 5-10 min further. The island is undeveloped short of the historic light house on it's west side. Trails circumnavigate the island for exploring it's very uncrowded rugged shores.

The island is a 1.5hr drive from Seattle with no ferry to Anacortes, then to Skyline Marina. Park in the long term marina parking along Cabana Lane. Then access the beach on the marina's west side where the road ends (below a house perched on a embankment / across from the big boat storage facility).

The Cascadia Marine Trail campsite has the best vault toilet in the region with a nice view as well! Alice Bight feels like SE Alaska, really a nice spot and a beautiful bay.

Watch for tidal currents during the crossing as well as fast moving power boats. If you like surfing standing waves and boat wakes, this can be a fun spot.

3. Skagit Island. Trip #27. 
Close to Burrows Island, Skagit is on the other side of Deception Pass on Similk Bay. The Cascadia Marine Trail campsite rests on an shell midden (native garbage dump) that can be seen the embankment (shells and stuff). Enjoy views of Deception Pass, nearby Hope Island and Fidalgo Island.

Currents can run between the island and Kiket Island to the east. Use your tide/current guide to plan your trip. Walk the island and/or paddle over to Hope Island State Park for additional exploring.

Access from Fidalgo Island at Snee-oosh Point (about 1mile), or via Whidbey's Ala Spit, Cornet Bay, or run through Deception Pass on the flood for the best approach. Park at Bowman Bay.

2 Bonus Options for the adventurous...

Guerilla Camping.
This means camping in non designated spots along the banks of Puget Sound. There's hundreds of miles of undeveloped shoreline under bluffs, cliffs and remote beaches. Use Google Earth to explore the shore and/or play by ear and stop when you find a good place to end the day. Avoid backyards. Years ago, a friend while returning from Ketchikan on his kayak, camped in Carkeek Park. But that was 20+ years ago, I'm not sure I'd want to do that today!

Strait of Juan de Fuca - 2 Options..
-Launch in Port Angeles and paddle west past the Elwha River and Freshwater Bay camp at the Crescent Beach RV Park in Crescent Bay or at Salt Creek Recreational Area. Contact the RV park before landing there as they love to keep people off the beach. Landing at the county park may require portaging your gear up some rocks by Tongue Point. Check each location before going.

Crescent Bay in Salt Creek is a surf area so only enter on a small or no swell if you don't have surf skills. Tongue Point can get gnarly with waves crashing on it.

Salt Creek
-Launch from PA or from Salt Creek and paddle west to Whiskey Creek Resort in Joyce. This is a short paddle from Salt Creek but enjoy sea caves, arches, 500' cliffs and an odd metal door carved below that cliff. Epic paddle I've done a few times.

*Whiskey Creek was recently purchased by a new owner, so call to check their status and book a cabin or camping spot prior to arrival. Their cabins are right on the Strait, powered only by propane. No website, # only. 1385 Whiskey Creek Beach Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98363  /   Phone(360) 928-3567

*Guerilla camping along the Strait is possible but be ready to get up early if needed. Much of it is DNR land, some timber land.



Get my book to better plan your trip!


Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167













6/20/17

Boating - Mysterious Anchor Image - Deception Pass State Park

During my tidal rapids SUP class last week, we came across this anchor image on a rock at the south or right entrance to Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park.  In the book this is, Trip 28

I've seen it before, the question is, what does it mean? And how did it get there?

Anchor image in Deception Pass State Park



Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

5/28/17

Searching for Harbor Defense Bunkers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca

My obsession for exploring harbor / coastal defense forts started during a music camp on Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend in the late 1970's. Friends and I would skip class to explore the World War 1 era emplacements of Fort Flagler, then a relatively unknown fort.  We knew every nook and cranny of the extensive fort and found many additional bunkers, usually fire control stations or searchlight emplacements hidden in the woods around the park boundaries.

In recent years, my interest has been renewed out of curiosity about the many hidden bunkers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca built during WW2 to support the cannons at Fort Hayden, now Salt Creek Recreation Area.  As a photographer, I'm also working on a series of images showing the less known bunkers which are mostly covered by thick foliage and off the beaten path. These are hidden in the forest and when found appear like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. I'm motivated by the search as well as the find, which feels like 19th and 20th century archaeology.

Some are on private land and a few are in DNR areas. The largest and most public emplacements on the Strait are at Camp Hayden (Salt Creek) where visitors can drive through Battery 131 which once employed two 16" cannons. These were fired once, but a turn of events in the Pacific War led the installments to become quickly outdated. Nearby, a battery of two 6" guns on Striped Peak can be easily accessed by a dirt road above the ranger station. Other fire control stations (slit bunkers) can be seen by the tent camping area and hidden in thick foliage on Striped Peak.

To support Battery 131, fire control stations were installed at Angeles Point, Agate Rock, Lyre, Majestic, Pillar Point and on Cape Flattery. Panama Mounts which are concrete circles were installed at Angeles Point and on a peninsula (private land) above the west side of the Elwha River which can be seen on Google Earth.

If you ask a local, many won't know of any additional emplacements beyond the public Salt Creek emplacements. A few friends have explored and found a few emplacements over the years thus motiving me to find those and others.

This link lists exact locations via Harbor Defense plans dating to the 1940's. But not all are as easily found as the maps show. Google Earth images show heavy forest over most of the sites and no sign of current or updated roads. A May 2017 search for the Agate Rock bunker was thwarted by dead end or heavily overgrown roads. It's on DNR land but bordered by private land on 3 sides. A Port Angeles local had been there and sent me a road map giving me a better idea of how to get there. Sounds like the best tool for search are a bicycle or motorcycle to more quickly access dirt roads and paths. We were on foot. In this video by RoadTrippers, motorcycles are used to search out bunkers in this area.



Learn more
 about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

5/16/17

San Juan Islands - Planning a San Juan Islands Paddling Trip

Check out my new article for Kenmore Air Magazine on Planning a San Juan Islands Paddling Trip.

A bonus addition to this article is another piece I wrote on 5 Paddle In Cafe & Stores in the San Juan's (Pg 58).

Read the Story Here

Learn:
- Where to go for your skill level
- Rent vs bringing your own boards/boats
- How to plan your trip for currents, weather, boat traffic, etc
- Who to rent and take paddling lessons from
- Going solo? What to pack, safety gear, etc
- Resources - my book, weather links, tide/current links

Thanks to various local San Juan Island's paddling business for their local paddling and travel info!








Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

San Juan Islands - Orcas Island Paddler's Guide to Rentals

Kenmore Air has been in touch with me to provide guide services to one of their charters for a summer day trip from Seattle to Orcas Island. Their group has up to 25 participants which means we need to supply the boats and boards. In planning this tour, I've had a chance to chat with many of the board/board rental operations on the island. To save you the effort, here's a list of the basic rentals and resources I found..

Cascade Lake - a wilderness lake south of East Sound in Moran State Park. You may not think of paddling a lake given the epic paddling spots on the island, but it's actually a very pretty spot and will give more wind protection and opportunities for beginning paddlers not ready for tidal currents surrounding the rest of the island. Check in with Adventure Orcas for sup, canoe, pedal boats and kayak rentals. Nice folks!

West Beach Resort - Located on the west side of the island, West Beach has a string of rustic cabins in a nice bay with a view of Waldron Island. They have a few sup and kayak rentals for guests and run a weekly SUP race Sundays and Thursdays at 5:30pm. Race winner gets an off season night's stay!

Shearwater Kayak Tours - A great shop and professional rental operation, Shearwater also offers tours and/or has a summer base in spots like Deer Harbor, West Beach, Doe Bay and Rosario Resort. They also run tours out to Sucia Island.

Body Boat Blade - If you're looking for the best in sea kayak instruction not only on Orcas but in the entire region, BBB's owners Leon and Shawna are super professional, safe but also fun folks to paddle with. They also have a shop in East Sound. From the basic to advanced paddling including rolling, tidal rapids, adventure trip training to open water classes, they cover it all.  And they have a few sups for rent on the island as well.

Need to get there in a jiffy? Take a day or overnight trip there with Kenmore Air. Avoid the ferries lines and traffic.

* Learn more about paddling in the San Juan's in my article planning for a paddling trip in the SJ's for Kenmore Air Magazine. 

My book, Kayaking Puget Sound also has epic trips covering the entire island and surrounding islands.

Cascade Lake, Orcas Island

From the Body Boat Blade website

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167