It looked like I wasn’t going to get to go paddling this trip. I had thought about just buying a kayak and leaving it up here for future trips, but couldn’t find anything reasonable. I thought about booking another tour, but by that time most had filled up with holiday travelers.
Fortunately, the neighbor Duff came to my rescue. He had several homemade Fiberglas boats that we had used before, but they weren’t easy to reach. They were at the bottom of the cliff on the south side of the island. We managed to haul them up the cliff, but by that time it was late in the evening, and we were a bit tired from the haul to go paddling.
After discussing options we decided to take the boats up the Valley and run a section of the Skagit River. This was something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, so I was psyched. We loaded the boats onto our rental, since it had roof racks.
The next morning Duff and I headed out in two vehicles. We had barely gotten off the island when one of the boats came loose and slid off of my car. Fortunately there was no damage to car or boat, and we were able to get it loaded back on an limp home. However, we needed to regroup.
Even with the boats re-tied, I didn’t want to risk a 60 mile trek. We decided to take the boats down to Duff’s cabin on the north side of the island and paddle around Samish Bay.
By the time we got our act together the tide had started to go out. The tides have been fairly dramatic around here, so I was a bit concerned. I put on muck boots I found in the workshop because I knew we oils be trekking across mud. Turns out I was right. Duff’s boats are fairly light, so after unloading them we hauled them on out to where the water was deep enough to launch.
We decided to go against the outgoing tide and wind so that we would have an easier ride on the way back. That meant paddling east toward the Samish River.
There were a few people out and about on the shore, but not many venturing out onto the flats. We stayed off-shore where we had enough draft. At one point we ran aground. Duff hopped out and dragged his kayak over the shallow spot. I decided to backtrack to deeper water. This put me quite a bit behind Duff.
By heading out into deeper water, I had also unwittingly gotten into the current of the Samish River. I watched Duff round the east point of the island, but I was struggling to catch up. He disappeared from view while I felt like I was standing still.
While I was struggling with the current, duff was having his own encounter. A young harbor seal came up to him, apparently wanting to play. I could only see it’s head when I finally rounded the corner, but Duff had a close approach. He took these shots on his cell phone…
It was time to head back. This time we were grateful for the current. It carried us further out into the bay, and Duff pointed out the oyster farms in the middle of the bay. Blau Oyster is located on Samish Island, and Taylor Oyster is located across the bay on the Chuckanut side.
With the current the return trip was fairly quick. Unfortunately, when we got back we found the tide even further out. We had to lug the boats across a couple hundred yards of thick mud, with our feet sinking deeply with each step. I wasn’t sure which was worse – hauling the boats up the cliff or trudging through this mess.
We spent the rest of the day recovering. After dinner, though, Duff wanted to head back out. This time we could launch only steps from where we left the boats.
This time we headed west along the north shore of the island. The sun was shining and Mount Baker was illuminated. Parties were starting to gather at the beach houses and cabins, and there we already lots of fireworks. They may have even been waiting for us. There was much more boat traffic, including a few fellow paddlers.
The beach houses used to be small one-room affairs like Duff’s – usually owned by a permanent island resident or someone in town. As the price of waterfront property increased, so did the size of the houses. The island has been able to retain most of it’s quaint charm, but it now also sports several multi-million dollar mansions.
We lingered a bit to watched the setting sun over Lummi Island. We had only paddled out a couple of miles, but we were worn out from our morning ordeal. Mount Baker and shore fireworks kept us company as we paddled back home.