This summer, for the first time in years, I took the ferry out to the San Juan Islands for a day of hiking, stunning views, and delicious food. Along with a few lifelong friends, I went out to the small, postcard-perfect city of Anacortes to catch the ferry out to Orcas Island.
Ferries are typical picture fodder for the Washington visitor and an essential method of transportation for us folks who live around the Puget Sound. I remember riding the Edmonds-Kingston ferry over to the Kitsap Peninsula when I was younger–running against the cool, sea wind on the decks; snatching up all the free flyers I could find; and watching the sea churned to a maddened froth by the massive propellers. Like in an oft-quoted expression, the journey there was even more memorable than the destination. Riding the ferry is a fond memory from my childhood, so I was happy to see a young boy as enraptured by the experience as I had been:
Since we were on a pretty tight schedule (one of the downsides of relying on the ferries) we elected to drive, not hike, to the top of Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park. Upon reaching the summit, we made our way up the stairwell of a lookout tower. We emerged at the top to a breathtaking view which stretched from Mt. Rainier in the south, past Mt. Baker to our east, and all the way up to the Canadian Cascades in the north. Below was the brilliant blue of the Puget Sound, dotted by several other members of the San Juan Island Chain; Bellingham, Fairhaven, and the Chuckanut Range beyond that. It was a singularly spectacular view.
After enjoying our time at the top of Mt. Constitution, we drove down the winding, narrow road to the nearby Mountain Lake. Snuggled among the evergreens in the shadow of Mt. Constitution, it’s a tranquil place; circled by a sheltered forest path. On the lake, a lone windsurfer caught what gusts of wind he could and skimmed the surface of the water.
Occasionally, a lone wooden bench would appear just off the path–affording a peaceful place to sit and absorb the beauty of the surrounding nature. One such bench was occupied by a couple too cute to resist snapping a photo of:
We followed the path through the forest towards the Twin Lakes. Along the way, it wound through towering groves of trees so massive we felt minuscule beneath them and through vibrant meadows in bloom. Even for someone who grew up surrounded by the beauty endemic to the Pacific Northwest, Moran State Park is a place of picturesque beauty.
After stumbling across a pair of nude sunbathers at the Twin Lakes (we saw them from a distance, but a quick zoom with a telephoto lens revealed the unsightly truth) we headed back to the car, stomachs growling with rabid intensity. Luckily for us, there was a nice little restaurant by the ferry terminal which served up some amazing pulled pork sandwiches and some cool, refreshing brews.
We caught the ferry and enjoyed the ride back. The sun was setting behind us, painting the waters of the Sound a brilliant orange and bathing the distant shape of Mt. Baker in a rosy light. I love where I’m from.