Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paddle Log #24: Port Gamble, WA

Back in Virginia, I normally followed the 120-rule for kayaking.  The 120-rule states that the air temperature plus the water temperature have to add up to at least 120F in order to go kayaking without cold weather gear like a wetsuit.  The 120-rule is generally satisfied from around May to September there.

Not here.

Looking at the historic water temperatures around here, it's typically in the 50s, so it requires some pretty warm air temperature (above 70) to meet the same 120 rule, and that doesn't seem to happen all that often, either.  I think maybe about a month from mid-July to mid-August.  I picked up a book about kayaking in the Pacific Northwest, and I noted in the introduction that they refer to the 100-rule.  Mmm-hmmm.

MWR here at Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) offers a lot of great outdoor activities.  Actually, I think they call it Fleet & Family Readiness (FFR) here.  Whenever I go kayaking someplace for the first time, I prefer to go with someone else who has been before and is familiar with the area and the hazards.  The Pacific Edge Outfitters on the Bangor Sub Base offers everything you could possibly need to rent for any outdoor recreation.  They also have regular organized trips, like a Wednesday night paddle.

That's another odd thing about Kitsap versus Virginia...  the time of sunset.  We're so far north in latitude here, it's 9:30 p.m. and I can still see orange sky above the Olympic Mountains out my family room window.  Combine that with the fact that the warmest time of the day tends to be in the late afternoon when the sun has burnt off the fog and clouds, and it makes for some pretty nice evening kayaking.

Last night, my boys and I went with the FFR Wednesday evening paddle to Port Gamble.  Each of these Wednesday night paddles have met up at Pacific Edge Outfitters at 5 p.m. and plan to be back to Pacific Edge around 9 p.m.  We met up there and caravaned up to Salsbury Point Park just north of the Hood Canal Bridge.

Suit up!  On the beach at Salsbury Point Park
getting ready to head out onto Hood Canal.

This was the first time kayaking for the boys this year.  I was glad that my younger son's rain pants still fit.  My eldest son has outgrown his rain pants, but his kayak has a lip that is able to use a kayak skirt, so we used one of the kayak skirts from Pacific Edge Outfitters.  It did a great job keeping the water out of ES's cockpit and he was very pleased to stay dry and comfortable from start to finish. 

YB seemed dry and comfortable for the duration of the evening, too.

Paddling on Hood Canal north of the bridge.
(Hood Head in the background)

From Salsbury Point Park, we paddled east along the shore past the small town of Port Gamble and around the old lumber mill.  The Port Gamble Sawmill was the oldest mill in the country when it closed down in 1995.

We had a very nice paddle around the sawmill and back.  We saw one bald eagle on top of the sawmill, a couple of bluejays and guillemot pigeons, plus 3 harbor seals.  We looked for a family of otters that supposedly live to the south of the sawmill, but we didn't see any.

My youngest son took this photo of the bald eagle on top of the sawmill.

Heading back toward the Hood Canal Bridge.

Stats for the paddle log:
  • Date: 27 July 2011
  • Time In: 6:03 p.m.
  • Time Out: Approx 8:09 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hrs 6 min
  • Moving Time (GPS): 1 hour 56 min
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  10 min
  • Mileage (GPS): 4.28 miles
  • Sea State: 1
  • Winds: 5-10 kts NW
  • Air Temp:  68F dropping to 62F
  • Water Temp: 60F
  • Current:  Slack water at beginning, rising to 0.4 kt flood current at 1900.
  • Gauge Height:  N/A.
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  2.2 mph
  • Max Speed by (GPS):  5.0 mph
  • Rapids?  None. 
  • Hazards?  Wake from passing boats, chop from the wind.
  • Kit: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL (my youngest son and I), Perception Acadia Scout (eldest son).  Ballcap, NRS paddling gloves, short sleeve shirt, NRS paddling pants, neoprene booties.  Youngest son wore his rain pants and NRS neoprene socks.  Eldest son had outgrown his rain pants from last year.  He wore swim trunks and his NRS neoprene socks, but he used a skirt from Pacific Edge Outfitters and it kept him dry.  He complained he was getting cold about half way through, so he put on his jacket.  I brought both boys' jackets in the center storage compartment of my kayak.
  • Configuration: YB in front, me in the middle seat.  ES in his own kayak.
  • Route:  Put-in at Salsbury Point Park, east around Port Gamble and back (see Garmin Connect below).
  • Other comments (such as wildlife spotted): Bald eagle, blue jays, guillemot pigeons, seagulls, 3 harbor seals.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

This post is a little delayed.  I've been a bit busy with my family arriving from Virginia, moving into a new house, having our household goods (HHG) delivered, and trying to dig ourselves out of the sea of cardboard boxes.

The weekend before my family arrived, I went for a very nice walk through the Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve.  Sitting here now, looking at that website for the nature reserve, the photos don't look very exciting, and I probably wouldn't have gone out of my way to go there.  Actually, I ended up there sort of by accident, but I'm very glad I did.

In searching for a new park to explore, I was just scrolling around Google Maps looking at the green spots that represent a park of some sort.  I noticed Stavis Creek and read a bit on the web about the wildlife that can be seen in this park, so I actually went in search of Stavis Creek.  I tried to get at it from a couple of different approaches, but I kept running into private property and no trespassing signs and turning away.  It didn't bother me though, because I was enjoying the drive around the countryside.  I ended up driving by the Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve sign purely by accident.  I needed to get out and stretch my legs, so I stopped to check it out.  (Post Facto Comment:  I eventually found out how to get into Stavis Creek, but it wasn't until after I had finished my walk in Guillmot Cove and it was way past time for lunch.)

The trails are well-defined and easy to follow.  There are a couple of trails to choose from, but they all lead down to the cove.  Unfortunately, you don't get a trail map until you get to the bottom.

Down at the bottom of the hill near the actual cove, there is an information kiosk with a map of the property and the trails.

At the bottom of the hill, I discovered the trail to the cove itself was washed out, and I wasn't wearing shoes for trudging through the marshy bog.  Even so, there are a couple of loop trails going off into the woods along a gurgling stream.

There's an old abandoned house and barn at the bottom of the hill.  There are signs posted on the barn that the structure isn't safe for entry.

During my walk through the nature reserve, I heard beautiful bird songs that were unfamiliar to me.  The birds I saw were too fast for my camera, and I'm not very good at identifying them.  The only one I readily recognized was a beautiful red-headed woodpecker.

There were flowers of every shape and color imaginable.  Everywhere I turned, there were beautiful pink rhododendrons in bloom, plus an abundance of little yellow buttercups closer to the ground. 

I kept seeing these berries, and I wasn't sure what they were.

Then I saw this flower and remembered looking up the name of the flower after my Green Mountain hike, and it was called salmonberry.

Ahhhh, it all makes sense now!  Salmonberry!

This one was new to me - American Starflower (Trientalis borealis).

This was also new to me - Nootka Rose (rosa nutkana).

This was the first time I had seen Foxglove.  Since then, I've seen it along the side of the road just about everywhere I go.

There were some beautiful mushrooms and fungi growing here and there along the trail, too.

On my way back to the information kiosk and the trail back up to the parking lot, I rounded a bend in the trail, and I'm not sure who was more startled... or the deer.  

The deer didn't seem to mind me after the initial surprise.  She continued to munch on the grass and slowly walk ahead of me down the trail. 

Trip stats from the Garmin.
(2.7 miles walked, 1 hour moving, 42 min stopped)

It was a very enjoyable walk through the nature reserve, so I was in no hurry.  By the time I got back to my car it was well after 1 p.m. and I hadn't had lunch yet.  There isn't much between there and Silverdale except for my new favorite restaurant on the peninsula - Barbie's Cafe in Seabeck, so it was an easy decision to stop there for some of their kickin' crab chowder (crab and corn chowder with jalapenos) for lunch on my way back.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kitsap Kayaking Resources

From my experience in Virginia, I was always doing the same Google searches and going back to visit the same websites to get data for planning kayaking excursions, so I wrote my Virginia Kayaking Resources post as a quick reference for me and anyone else who is looking for certain data for planning.  Now that I'm living on the Kitsap peninsula in the great state of Washington, I haven't found any pre-existing quick-reference list of links, so I'm going to create one here.

I will periodically come back and update this post with new links as I find more useful websites.

Water TEMP:
- National Estuarine Research Reserve System:  Environmental monitoring buoys at Hoodsport, Twanoh, and Dabob Bay
- NOAA:  Port Townshend

Water LEVEL (Tides or Gage Heights):
-  Table format only, but for whatever date range you desires
- WSDOT Hood Canal Bridge:  Graphic format for next 24 hours
- National Weather Service:  Gage heights for rivers

- NOAA Tidal Current Tables

Sunrise / Sunset:
- Wunderground Silverdale

Routes / Maps:
- Washington State Park maps.
- WDFW Water Access sites.
* * *  Don't forget your Discover Pass. * * *  As of 7/1/2011, you must have a Discover Pass to park at / use Washington State Parks.  You can purchase either a 1-day pass for $10 or an annual pass for $35.  If you buy one online, then they will email you a temporary pass you can print out and put on your dashboard until your permanent pass comes in the mail. 
- North Kitsap Trails Association string of pearls map
- Kitsap Water Trails map
- Paddle Kitsap route map
- Mason County recreation map (South of Kitsap - down around Belfair and Allyn off Rt. 3)

- under the "Go Paddling" pull-down menu, select "Places to Paddle" and then "Virginia Washington."  They have both an alphabetical list of place names and a GIS map showing verified and unverified water access points.

- Olympic Kayak Club
- Paddle Kitsap is an organized two day event that paddles around the Kitsap Peninsula in August.

- Pacific Edge Outfitters on Naval Base Kitsap (for military folks).  I have not yet rented any kayaking gear there, but the staff was VERY friendly and helpful when I went to rent snowshoes and snowpants for hiking on Mount Ranier in the winter.  They DO rent kayaks and just about any other outdoor activity gear you could possibly want.
- Navy MWR offers organized paddling trips such as Wednesday evening paddles (5-9 p.m. about once a month) and the Paddle-Pedal-Pack excursion (4 mile paddle, 10 mile bike ride, 2 mile hike).  Search for these under "TRIPS" on their menu.  Searching under "ACTIVITIES" will only return classes.  
- Jackie's Marine & Kayak at the Brownsville Marina. Searched BBB and Yelp, found no results.
- Kayak Brinnon.  This is across Hood Canal over by Dabob Bay.  I hope to do their naturalist-guided paddle in the Dosewallips Estuary sometime.  Searched BBB and Yelp, found no results.
- Olympic Raft and Kayak.  I hope to go on one of their guided paddle trips before we leave the area.


- Kayaking Puget Sound, the San Juans, and Gulf Islands.
- Kayak Routes of the Pacific Northwest Coast
- Paddling Washington: 100 Flatwater and Whitewater Routes in Washington State and the Inland Northwest