Friday, August 30, 2013

Olysuppin'!

It is amazing how fast summer has flown by. I'm not saying that paddling is done for the season - Fall in the Pacific Northwest is a great time to paddle. Even winter paddling is awesome, if you have the right gear. But family paddling further from home is always easier in the summer, so we're trying to fit in as many adventures as we can before school starts.
 
This past weekend, we decided to try a new paddle location. It is amazing how many hidden gems we have in the waters of our own backyard! We took a little drive, only an hour or so away from home, and joined our friend Trevor Jonen of Olysup to take a tour on the waters of Olympia.

If you were to simply look up Boston Harbor, Olympia, WA on a map - you would  be able to get a clear picture of the many opportunities for adventures on the water. There are fingers of water pointing in every direction - showing you the many possibilities to  unlocked coves and nooks for you to discover left and right! The water out here can range from foggy and mystical, to slicing liquid glass, or full on downwind.

Trevor being a local down in these waters, is taking full advantage of this abundance, offering lessons and tours for every level and every type of paddler.

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Trevor by the Boston Harbor marina

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Depending on the tides, secret paths can show up at any point in time

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Trevor and Matt enjoying a moment in the sun at a secret cove

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Testing out one of Trevor's creations. This one is "Big Red" - one of 
Trevor's long distance adventure touring prototypes.

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Exploration everywhere!

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Going for the goofy face competition - don't know who won this one

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I barely got a glimpse of how much there is to see out here

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The colors on the water here when the sun tucks behind the islands can be
totally mesmerizing
 
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Before we all headed down to Olympia for our family stoke tour, I had to bomb down there to check it out for myself. The girls were away, visiting family in Port Townsend (another area I would like to explore more fully!), so I took an afternoon to join a tour that included a full moon glassy howl paddle experience complete with bioluminescent algae, which is one of the most amazing things I have experienced during night paddling - if you have not had a chance to see this yet -  imagine seeing a glowing trail behind your paddle strokes with fireflies that zip around the swirls you leave behind in the water..... one could do this for hours.... well at least I can! Something that has to be experienced if you're into paddling - but very difficult to capture with a simple waterproof point-and-shoot camera.

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When the girls got home from their trip, I was ready to head back down to Olympia with them for another paddle tour. This particular day ended up being an adventurous Washingtonian weather day - that included some drizzles, wind, chop, blackened skies, large pelting rain, bigger chop, cross chop, grey clouds....and eventually...glassy water.
We're always up for an adventure - but when we arrived, the water was rather choppy and there were strong signs that it wasn't going to be an easy paddle.

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So we had to scrap some plans that Trevor had especially made for Coli, and improvise according to the weather instead.

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We headed downwind, SE along the coastline towards Big Fishtrap. We explored the inlet and actually got a chance to feel some silky sand beneath our feet! However the weather quickly turned and we had to muscle upwind for a bit.

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Coli got pretty chilled in the wind - I had a slight hunch before we took off about the weather and was glad that I brought along an extra layer from SeasonFive - in the Pacific Northwest it pays to carry a few extra layers, even in the summer. Too bad I didn't think to bring along any booties - Maia's toes would have appreciated an extra layer.  
*last sentence written by Maia

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After we pushed through the blustery chop - it started to rain...but the beauty of this is that the water got glassy. So we headed towards the sand dollar beds.
Live sand dollars look way different than I expected - they are basically just like the dead ones, but covered with black spines that move in an invisible wind. Coli collected some of these (that she then released after they had a little ride on "Big Red"), and Maia couldn't resist fishing up a few of the dead ones to bring home. 

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We also saw lots of jelly fish ranging in sizes from a racquetball to a lantern, with long tentacles and a yellow core (we're guessing these could be "Fried Egg" jellyfish?). And, of course, harbor seals! We saw several at the beginning and the end of our paddle, just hanging out on a pile of drifting logs. A few followed us for a bit as well, at a distance, probably hoping that we would catch some fish that they could pop up and poach. Their heads are human sized, and it's always fun, and a bit creepy - but fun, to see one pop out of the water somewhere and watch you with those big black eyes before loudly discharging the air from their nostrils and sinking back into the depths. 

We'll definitely be back down to do some more exploring - there's so much to see. You could start from the same harbor and do a different adventure every time! Thanks, Trevor, for sharing the stoke with us!

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