Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skagit River by Sea Kayak: Day 2

We woke from a restful night in our tent. Our camp gear is compact to fit into the three hatches of our Current Designs Libra XT. It's their largest model, 21.8' long and 32" wide, making it very stable in the water (I like that). We only needed to make one trip from the campsite, and we only needed the front and back hatches to stow our gear, plus a few items we wanted en route stashed in cockpit dry sacks.

Another resource Wayne purchased online was Paddle Routes of Western Washington: 50 Flatwater Trips for Canoe and Kayak. The author, Verne Huser, also collaborated on the book I mentioned yesterday, so there's a lot of overlap and similarities. We both tried web searches, but for some reason, few people have written about this section of the river. Today's trip would take us from Rasar State Park to a mid-river Ross Island north of Sedro-Woolley.

After our short paddle yesterday, I felt a bit better about this new experience. The river was wide and deep in most places. When it made a turn, the water cut a steep bank into the outside shore. One such bank was drilled with holes by nesting Bank Swallows. You could hear them calling as they flew low over the water grabbing insects. The inside shore was usually a wide gravel or sand bar.

We traveled light with snack foods. Fruit cups, trail mix, breakfast bars, juices, and I'll admit it, candy. That's enough to start and end the day, but one substantial meal is nice. So we went to the Lyman Tavern for a hot lunch then went up to the market for more water (we really underestimated our needs), snacks, and an ice cream (yum). To get to Lyman, you have to enter a shallow back bay and climb the rock retaining wall to a riverside path. Main street, the pub, and the market on Highway 20 are in easy walking distance.

With full tummies, we got back in Mr. Kayak. Two hours of paddling took us past massive log jams on islands and dotting sand bars. We had to be careful to weave our way around huge stumps and trees jammed into the bed of the river. These snags can be dangerous if you get too close. But we got pretty good about reading the water to figure out the location of ones hidden below the surface.

Just north of Sedro-Woolley is Ross Island, historically a native site and homesteaded by Alexander Ross. We found a gravel bar on the north side to take out and pitch our tent. We arrived early so we took out our Therm-a-Rest pads to lounge in the shade and read. Over the crest of the bar we could hear voices coming down the river. Then we heard the cry, "Canadians." We have a small flag on a rod at the back of Mr. Kayak to help make us more visible on the water. Two young locals came ashore to say hi. They were floating from Lyman to Sedro-Woolley the "easy way" in tubes. Looked pretty "hard" to me.

The day ended with a spectacular sunset.

Things we learned on day two:

  1. Drink water frequently.
  2. We need at least a gallon each day.
  3. Use sunscreen liberally.
  4. Cover your lap with a tea towel to prevent burned inner thighs.
  5. Wear a hat for better vision on glaring water.
  6. Stop for breaks along the way.
  7. Take time to explore your surroundings.
Wayne and I are not highly experienced paddlers. Make sure you get expert advice before starting out on your own. Ask locals, visit sporting goods stores, read books, check the Internet. It's better to be safe than sorry. - Margy


  1. i love reading about your adventure. the sunset is magnificent.

  2. Great post full of adventures, news, thoughtful tips and great photos. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow! What an ambitious adventure. I'll be watching as you progress. Great photo to end the day. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing your beautiful country with us. What a treat! It looks like such fun.

  5. Just love knowing the sensation your Canadian flag causes on a US river. Can't beat being serenaded with a chorus of "O Canada"!!

  6. Thanks to all my Skywatch Friday visitors. I appreciate your visits and comments very much.

    Kay - Yes it was quite a surprise to receive a serenade like that. Of course, it was hard to tell if it was hear felt or tongue in cheek. At least it was friendly.