Friday, October 5, 2012

Island hopping through the San Juans

Ferrying again, this time on the very cool network of ferries that take you from Vancouver Island across to the mainland at Anacortes for one fixed and reasonable price which allows you to get on and off at a number of different islands for as long as you wish provided you keep heading eastwards. 

Our choices were a couple of days on San Juan Island itself and a  couple more on Orcas Island with our main activities centering around more kayaking and more orca watching which, as the pictures  will attest, were both very rewarding!

The golden calf...four weeks old

Back-drop to orca viewing - Mt Baker

Back to the mountains - Mt Baker and Mt St Helens

Within an hours drive of the ferry terminal we were climbing steeply up the slopes of still snow-tipped Mt Baker for a bit of hiking and a bit of sitting around on mountain tops with a bottle of wine and a thin slither of a moon for company (for those watching the moon over the Indian Ocean, you’ll realise how far behind we are with this blog!).

With John and Carla in the Olympic Mtns

 We then spent a couple of delightful days around Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsular with Carla and John from Bend and their friend Julie from Mississippi via Seattle before climbing once again, this time up the slopes of Mt St Helens, now 30 years on from its spectacular eruption (if you ever get there, make sure you take in the movie at the information centre - it really makes it all very real!). 

Sailing into Port Townsend
Mt Hood

Redwoods and rockstacks - down the north west coast 

There were a couple of grey whales lolling in this bay
We’re pretty much glued to the coast now as we head down through Washington and Oregon. The sun is still shining - a couple of weeks of blue sky is a real treat after the solar deprivation of Canada and Alaska, though temperatures are cool and autumn colors are widespread. Not the spectacular shows that one apparently gets on the eastern side of the continent but a colorful contrast to the evergrey-green of the conifers.

Cobra pitcher plants - Darlingtonia spp. (for Helena, who will want to know)
While the northern parts of the coastline are quite settled and relatively  touristy, it gets wilder as one heads towards the California border with rocky headlands interspersed with windswept beaches and forests clinging to the ocean cliff tops, regularly loosing some of their members to the eroding coastline with the result being thousands of logs, some of enormous size, cast along the high tide line. 

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