It took until May to get here, but it’s finally spring in the Pacific Northwest. Along with the tulip fields we’re getting rhododendron and other blooms. The weather is also improving, with sporadic sunshine temps reaching almost 70º. It’s perfect weather for getting out and about, so I’ve been trying to take advantage of it when I can.
Shake Down Paddle around Padilla Bay
Rambling conditions may have improved, but paddling conditions haven’t…much. The water is still cold and hypothermia a real threat. The winds have been crazy, but it’s the tides that have been the worst problem. We’re experiencing incredibly low tides right in the middle of the day, so just about the only time to paddle is early morning or evening.
Even so, I was anxious to get out. I’d been off the water for far too long. Having my foot in a cast for most of winter meant that I missed my 2017 mileage goal by three miles. With this year’s late start I know I’m not going to get anywhere near my goal.
Duff was also wanting to hit the water. Last week I loaded up both boats and we headed over to Bayview for a short paddle on Padilla Bay.
We had just enough water with the tide, but the winds were starting to pick up. I was OK with a few whitecaps, but Duff’s been having problems with a shoulder and broken thumb, so the extra stress from the wind was a bit too much. We only paddled down to Bayview State Park and came back, hardly a mile’s worth of paddling. We called it a “shake down cruise” and decided that we needed to come back out soon.
Exploring Bowman Bay
It had been years since I’d been out to the Bowman Bay/Rosario Beach area. I decided that it was time for more exploration of that area.
Deception Pass separates Fidalgo Island from Whidbey Island. The geography is quite dramatic, so, as you could imagine, there are lots of parks and overlooks in the area. Deception Pass State Park is on the south side of the pass on Whidbey Island. Bowman Bay Landing and Rosario Beach State Park are on the north side on Fidalgo. I took Highway 20 toward Deception Pass then turned onto Rosario Beach Road. A sign for a boat landing caught my eye, so I turned down the Bowman Bay Landing Road to check it out.
As advertised, there was a boat ramp, as well as a wide rocky beach and a long pier. Even at low time it looked like a perfect sheltered place to paddle. Several kayaks had been doing just that, and I could see them beached further along the shore.
I walked out onto the pier with only my cell phone. Taking a look around I could see a trail and an interesting isthmus. I decided to explore a bit more, so I headed back and grabbed the rest of my cameras.
The trail led across some wetlands that empty into the bay, then to the base of a high bluff. The trail twisted upward via switchbacks, but I decided to scramble over the rocks along the beach. At higher tides I could see that this route would be impassable. At the beach beyond I could see mist rising from the beach.
This would be a cool place to check out tidal pools. I could see a few critters scrambling away as I scrambled over the rocks. The tide was coming in, so anything living here would be hidden away until it returned.
The beach was on the edge of a thin isthmus that separates Fidalgo Island from Lighthouse Point. On the other side of the isthmus from the beach is Lottie Bay. Unlike Bowman, it’s very shallow, and the low tide had revealed mud flats similar to the ones in Padilla Bay.
The trail led up along the point. I reached a rock outcrop with views of the Deception Pass Bridge. The trail turned inward and continued through a dense forest.
The trail opened onto a grassy area. A sandy gap separated the trail from the actual point, which looked like it might be a small island at low tide. Purple and yellow wildflowers covered the area. Both parts of the Deception Pass Bridge were clearly visible.
I took the path down to the beach. A steep path led out to the point itself, and I remember climbing it many, many years ago, but today I decided not to tempt fate. My Achilles tendon was already twinging from the short hike and I didn’t want to win up back in a cast.
This would be a great place to launch a kayak, except that it opens right out into the treacherous Deception Pass. The currents are crazy. It might be fun in a whitewater boat, though.
I headed back to the trail, which led through more flowered fields to the next point. This small eroded stack was similar to the first, but with only a narrow gap separating it from the land. The way down to the beach was steeper. Across the way I could see a rope tied to a rough path leading to the top of the small stack/island.
Along the hillside were some pink and white succulent plants. I have no idea what these were, but they were all over the place.
Soon I found myself at another point overlooking yet another eroded rock formation. This one had an interesting hole in it. Beyond I could see the grassy area at Rosario, where I thought I’d be hiking today.
I made my way up to the top of the cliff further along the coast. There I found a young woman sunbathing, covered in tattoos and little else. She was friendly and we chatted for a moment, but I made my apologies for intruding on her space. She was also kind enough to point me in the right direction and correct trail. If I had continued on my route I would have had to do some rock climbing to get back to the car.
I headed back down the correct trail, which led across the point through a dense stand of trees. This brought me back to my original path down to the isthmus. On the other side I decided to take the official trail, rather than scrambling over the rocks again. It was steeper and led to a couple of branching trails that headed toward Lottie Bay and Deception Pass.
I had hiked about three miles. Somehow I managed to develop a serious blister on my foot, so I was glad to get back to the car. Even so, it was a great day out and about.
The good weather continued. On Wednesday we met my first cousin Bob Ellenberg and his wife Karen for lunch in La Conner. They were in the area on business, so we were able to catch up while sitting at a table overlooking the Swinomish Channel. After lunch we pointed them in the direction of tulips, then headed back to our own island.
That evening I skipped BYOG for the Irish Music Session in Anacortes. It went well, and I felt confident in my playing. Only one player seemed to be plagued with that Irish TIM™ stuffiness I’ve come to detest.
The nice weather held for Thursday and Laura and I decided to visit a place we had never been in all the time that we’ve been coming to the area – Guemes Island. Guemes is the island that we see from our front windows, so it seems odd that we had never been there. There are no bridges, but a short ferry from Anacortes runs across the Guemes Channel every half hour.
When we arrived we were second in line for the ferry, so we were at the front of the boat. We were in the Mini with the convertible top back, so even just sitting in the car it was a great view as we crossed.
On the other side is a small general store/gas station/restaurant and parking area for the ferry. We headed east along the coast. There were quite a few houses here, many of which were for sale. Even with all these houses the island seemed much more wooded and rural than Samish.
Much of the coastline was inaccessible. I was looking for a good place to launch a kayak, but there just didn’t seem to be good spots. Finally we reached the west end of the island and a public park on the beach. Youngs Park looks out across to Samish Island and Mount Baker beyond. We enjoyed wandering on the pebbled beach for a bit.
We drove all around the island, taking every road on our map. There was one more hiking trail through a nature area and a playground/park on the middle of the island, but no other public access to the beach other than Youngs Park. I guess you could access the water near the ferry launch, but that didn’t seem like a great idea.
Once again we got in line to await the trip back across.
So far the weather seems to be holding. It’s inspired us to plan several other trips. Time on the island is slipping by, and we still have lots to see.