Monday, November 30, 2015

Kayak Circumnav of Orcas Island: 3.5-day Menu

Point Doughty, and behind me to the left, Sucia Island

The San Juan Islands are my favorite place in the world. That is not an exaggeration. In college I somehow got the idea that I wanted to be a camp counselor...I'm not really sure how or why, because I had only been to camp a couple of times as a kid and I was homesick for most of it! At the time, I could never have known that it would change my world forever. I applied to several different camps and, not knowing anything about any of them, I chose YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island (click here to donate for scholarship funds for kids! I can personally testify that they give kids such an amazing summer!). I didn't know why then, but I was just drawn to it. Now I know why I was...

The San Juans have world class sunsets

During trainings, our directors talked about creating "camp magic" for the campers, which might seem like it's just for the kids, but as an adult, I can honestly say that Orkila is one of the most magical places I have ever been to myself. And I got to spend four whole summers there. Now I get homesick for Orcas.

Which is why I wanted to return for a kayak adventure! So Max and I loaded up our truck and took off for North Beach to launch a 3 and a half-day circumnavigation of Orcas Island, including stops at two of my favorite places - Jones Island and Point Doughty. After the trip notes is the menu for the trip, and (I think) this is a good one! Max and I both commented in the middle of the trip how we felt so well-fed! The only thing I didn't like that much were my breakfasts....that one's a toughy since I haven't been eating eggs, dairy, or nightshades, so my normal paleo breakfasts (the fabulous Meat & Muffin Combo) were out.

The Trip

Lunch break on a small strip of beach

Day 1: North Beach to Doe Island
Campsite on Doe Island
We started at North Beach, the northernmost point of Orcas that looks out on Sucia Island, arguably my favorite San Juan I've been on. I'd led kayak trips for Orkila around the more sheltered western side of the island, but had never been on the more open east side and was excited to see it. We had dark skies, but calm weather as we paddled down the coast. Towards the end of the afternoon, the wind picked up and we decided to cut the day short, stopping at tiny Doe Island instead of Obstruction Pass like we had planned. This turned out to be a great decision, because we had all of Doe Island to ourselves! There are only 3 or 4 campsites on the whole island, and you can walk all around it in about 10 minutes. As the sun came out to warm our tired bodies, we were glad we hadn't made it to Obstruction, which is nestled in a grove of trees.

Day 2: Doe Island to Jones Island

The next day, the water was looking chooooppyyyy.....but nothing too dangerous, so we paddled around the corner to Obstruction Pass and continued across East Sound. We had to use a lot of mental concentration to watch the waves as they peppered our boats. None of them were very big, but it does only take one wave... Since we'd cut yesterday short, we had a longer day ahead of us to Jones Island off the southwest tip of Orcas. Once we got past East Sound, we were on the more sheltered side of Orcas, and could relax a little. Also, the sun started coming out again which always boosts the spirits. We stopped at another of my favorite places (you may have noticed that they're all my favorites), Blind Island, for lunch. Then we paddled through the Yellow Islands, and got our hopes up several times, thinking we spotted Jones, only to realize Jones must be the next island. Oops, not that one, the next one. And so on. But once we finally made it to our destination, it was an amazing evening. A beautiful sunset, AND an orca sighting! With a baby orca!!! And then to top it all off, we woke up in the middle of the night to go pee, and Venus was out so bright, and bigger than I had ever seen it. There was some serious angular size to it, not just a pinprick. Max didn't share my enthusiasm.

Me: "Oh my gosh, Max! Do you see that!!?? Is that Venus?? It is SO BIG! Holy cow! It's like a quarter the size of the moon! I've NEVER seen it like that!!!"
Max (in monotone voice): "Yea. It's really bright." (Goes back in tent)

Day 3: Jones Island to Point Doughty

In the morning, we packed up for the last full day of our trip, and crossed back to the Orcas coastline to contour up to Point Doughty. We caught a serious current and made the 6 mile paddle in just a couple hours, then had the rest of the day to lounge around on the beach, read, nap, and water gaze. Of course this was the one night we decided to leave our rain fly off our tent, and predictably, had to wake up around 2 in the morning to put it on as the uninvited rain drops came splashing through our mesh ceiling.

Day 4: Point Doughty to North Beach

The rain continued through the morning as we finished our circumnavigation to North Beach, giving us a final treat as we paddled in silence. As we watched the tiny beads of rain drop into the ocean, they would sit on the surface for a moment, the fresh water droplets battling with the salt water giantess, then finally succumbing to the sea's pull, disappearing in a circle of tiny ripples. This is the kind of magic that the San Juans always seem to unlock as I wander through the maze of islands, sometimes on land, sometimes on water, and once you find this magic, you must always return.

The Food

Food we took on the trip - the block of cheese was Max's...I thought I would end up eating some but I was so full from all the other stuff I never needed it! Dehydrated dinners not in picture. 


  • 1/2 a carton of So Delicious "culinary coconut milk" (turned out to be more like coconut cream - would not get this one again! I had to squeeze the box just to get it out! I got a little nauseous from the texture I think...but it sure filled me up! Next time I'm going to use Aroy-D...I've already taste-tested it, and it is SO amazing! It is the only coconut milk I know of that doesn't use thickeners like guar gum or carageenan, and it wasn't separated when I opened the carton, had a consistency more like real milk, and tasted better than other ones I've tried! It also comes in a convenient carton that can be cut open with a knife, and squashed flat when finished.)
  • 1 Epic Bar
  • 1/3 bag of Go Raw! Zesty Pizza Flax Snax


  • 1 tin oysters
  • couple handfuls Terra chips (we bought 3 bags and then repackaged them in a big Ziploc)
  • 1 Bubbies naturally fermented pickle (repackaged some pickles w/ juice in a snap-lock plastic tupperware container - the pickle juice is a great pick-me up, too!)
  • 1 raw carrot
  • 3 or 4 Bacchanalian Banana Bars
  • sea salted macadamia nuts (took 2 packages of Mauna Loa macadamias)



The "Sausage Scramble" mystery meal
  • 1st night: Something from our freezer labeled "Sausage Scramble" (?!) that neither of us remember making, and it did not appear to have eggs in it, like the name would imply. It essentially seemed like a bunch of pork sausage cooked with some onions. Very tasty, though! We had a pint-sized Ziploc full of it, and it filled us both up for dinner! There was a bit of a scare when I thought I had accidentally cooked in a silica packet that we sometimes use to reduce moisture. I couldn't remember if I had put one in the pouch, and there was no sign of it after cooking, so we didn't know if it was dissolved in there or not. We ate it anyways. Hungry kayakers. You understand. 
  • 2nd & 3rd nights: Greek Moussaka YUM!!! Truly gourmet! Again, about a pint-sized Ziploc, almost full to feed the both of us. 


  • Theo Dark Chocolate & Ginger bar

Totals (for one person):

(Max and I eat slightly differently, but share some things, so this is as simple as I could make the list. This is the list of food that I ate on the trip.)
  • 3 cartons So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk (these were shared between 2 people)
  • 3 Epic bars
  • 1 package Zesty Pizza Flax Snax
  • 3 tins of oysters
  • 3 bags of Terra Chips
  • 3 pickles
  • 3 raw carrots
  • 12 banana bars
  • 2 packages macadamia nuts
  • 2 cups trail mix
  • 1/2 pint Ziploc of beef jerky
  • 1 coconut water
  • 1 pint Ziploc of "Sausage Scramble"??? (shared between 2 people)
  • 2 pint Ziplocs of Greek Moussaka (shared between 2 people)
  • 1 Theo Dark Chocolate & Ginger bar (shared between 2 people)