At the beginning of September, 2013 we made our way North from Portland to Olympic National Park for our annual kayak surf/fish/tour/litter picking trip with photographer Fred Marmsater. This is our third year shooting with Fred. Not only is Fred a great friend that we love spending time with, but his photography skills are second to none. A big challenge with working with photographers to capture sea kayaking is finding someone who can not just shoot in that environment, but shoot well.
Fred is a heck of an athlete and a lot of the time he is leading the charge through the surf. Keep on the lookout for one of his photos from this trip appearing in the Canoe & Kayak Magazine Photo Annual. Expect to see many more of his photos in other paddlesports magazines, websites, catalogs, and product displays.
We met at Hobuck beach at Cape Flattery just as an exceptionally warm, sunny, and mild weather pattern that held through most of the summer was on it's way out. Chris managed to squeeze in a couple of SUP rides with Smokey before all of us had arrived.
Once we were all there, we decided to head to Shi-Shi beach while the weather and ocean conditions were still favorable. According to the forecast, the rest of the week would be filled with 45kt winds and several inches of rain. This day however, was perfectly sunny and mild.
When we arrived at Shi-Shi, we noticed a large pod of humpback whales breaching 50 yards from shore. Despite all of our time spent paddling salt water, this was the first display by Humpbacks any of us had seen up close. For 30 minutes they stayed in the cove, launching into the air and crashing back down. This unique experience only added to the mystique of Shi-Shi beach. Jason got quite excited by the show.
Shi-Shi beach is accessible only by hiking in or boating in. For such a remote location with limited access, we were shocked to find an incredible amount of litter on the beach. Camping is allowed there, and when we arrived there were approximately 150 people camped out. This wasn't the isolated pristine wilderness beach we had expected. It seems many campers over the summer managed to pack in bottled water, beer, beach balls, flip flops, etc. but for some reason, they didn't have enough respect for the beautiful place or the other people trying to enjoy it, and an obscene amount of litter, including human feces about every 10 feet at the high water line, was everywhere. We spread out and walked the beach, picking up everything we could find except the feces.
We watched the sunset from the beach and then made our way back to Hobuck and set up camp.
Chris managed to squeeze in a few surfs in the new P&H Hammer before we met up at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park to shelter from the incoming storms.
Lake Crescent is amazingly beautiful. I don't think any of us have ever paddled in a lake before, and despite the lack of surf, the scenery kept us entertained. The lake is over 1000ft deep and glacier fed. The result is water colored the most intense blue we have ever seen. Pair that with 5500ft mountains tumbling straight into the lake, and our minds were blown. Jason couldn't handle trout jumping everywhere and was able to borrow a fly rod from a fellow camper. The trout were small, but unique. The formation of this particular lake locked in sea run steelhead and cutthroat. Over several millennia of adaptation, two new species of trout evolved; Crescenti Trout and Beardsley Trout, both firsts for Jason.
Lake Crescent, as apposed to Shi-Shi Beach, was incredibly litter free. We paddled nearly the entire lake without finding more than a few bottle caps and beer cans. The scenery was so awe inspiring, even Smokey was mellow, sitting idle while a raft of ducks quacked incessantly in front of her.
The heavy rains and wind made there way to us by day three, and by the fifth and final day, we were ready to make our way home and dry out. Cape Flattery, Olympic National Park, and Lake Crescent are highly recommended and offer a wide array of paddling opportunities. In this area, you can kayak surf, kayak fish salt and freshwater, coastal or flatwater tour in some of the most beautiful scenery in the lower 48.