By Bret Wirta-The Incidental Explorer
Distance: Couple of miles or so
Time out: Half Day
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
July 6th 2011
Start of the trip
I was a little nervous when I showed up for my first ever Kayaking trip. I imagined overturning in the waves of the Strait of Juan de Fucca. But Dave King, owner of Olympic Raft and Kayak, assured me that I didn’t need any experience. “Unlike river kayaks, a sea kayak is more stable and paddling is easy to learn,” Dave said.
After many tries I finally scheduled this adventure with my busy friend Joel, but Mother Nature wasn’t as cooperative. From the sunny rooftop garden of the Holiday Inn Express in Sequim where we were staying, we could see a thick fog bank squatting over the Strait in the distance. Olympic’s kayaking tours are famous for their scenery and wildlife. I hoped the fog wouldn’t be a hindrance to seeing these sights on our trip.
We drove to Olympic Kayaking and Rafting where we were outfitted with waterproof clothing including booties and gloves and we were given plenty of instruction. Their websites says, “Olympic is the oldest and most respected outfitter on the Olympic Peninsula. We know what it takes to give you a very memorable and enjoyable experience. With our perfect safety record and by far the most experience in the region, we are a clear choice for guided kayak trips on the Olympic Peninsula. In fact, many regional guides and instructors have come to us for their training!”
We set off for Freshwater Bay, just west of Port Angeles. It was very foggy. We unloaded our kayaks on the edge of the shore and plopped down in them. A kayak is a long sealed plastic canoe that you sit in. It’s unsinkable which was good I thought because when our guide David Bosworth pushed out into the bay, I wobbled a bit.
But after a few strokes I was zipping over kelp forest, turning and backing up. Joel and I chatted as we paddled. We stopped to watch David flop a long string of kelp on his boat. Snails and other creatures bounced off the bow and back into the sea. David said that the kelp forest provides shelter for crustaceans, sea-snails, sea-stars, sea-urchins and many species of fish.
We paddled out of the bay past Bachelor Rock, an eroded chimney of ancient cliffs just off the shore. Swells lifted our kayaks, but we rode the waves with ease. On the west side of Bachelor Rock the fog lifted. Suddenly sparkling sunshine, blue sky, green trees, brown cliffs our brightly colored kayaks all reflected and danced upon the surface of the sea. We paddled on, exploring the rugged coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Dave said he has seen Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Otters and Gray Whales. We didn’t see any on our trip but a pair of Bald Eagles flew over us and a big heron fished from shore. There were many other varieties of sea birds too.
Kayaking allowed us to experience the abundant marine life up close. The water was so clear! There was much to see and David knew about every bit of sea life. In the shallow water were aqua-green anemones, blood-red sea stars, purple urchins, green-spotted grasses, black mollusks, brown seaweed, and many tiny fish. I just bought a waterproof Cannon PowerShot D10. I was hesitant to plunge the camera into the water, but when I did the Cannon’s flash and video did a wonderful job of capturing it all.
We explored secluded bays and even carefully paddled into a cavern. After a couple of hours, we pulled up on a secluded sandy beach to stretch our legs. (Don’t forget to bring a lunch and water). After the break we continued west along the coast until the wind picked up and David pointed to thick black clouds moving toward us. David ordered us to turn around and for our safety we headed back to Freshwater Bay.
The clouds stayed off shore so before we pulled up on the beach we just bobbed on the sunny bay. I drifted off to sleep listening to the birds chirping and smelling the clean salt air. It isn’t often in our hectic lives that in the middle of the day we are rocked to sleep. It was a wonderful, peaceful experience.
It was a great adventure. Joel said, “The trip was very enjoyable and very relaxing. We learned a lot about the marine life and about kayaking too.” I agree with Joel and I hope my busy friend and I can take another sea kayaking trip soon.
- Take 101 West
- Continue on 101 past Port Angels for 8 miles
- Cross the Elwha River and take the first right onto Lake Aldwell Road.
- They are ¼ mile down the road on the left.
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