Hope Island, south Puget Sound, WA 27–28 Feb 2016

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by alexsidles, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

    Jan 10, 2009
    Seattle WA
    Spring is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, and that means a new camping season. It's possible to camp out all twelve months of the year around here, but there's no denying that spring camping is more pleasant than winter.

    For my first trip of the year, I paddled out to Hope Island in south Puget Sound. The whole island is a state park, so there is no development other than a restored cabin from pioneer days.

    The crossing from Boston Harbor was smooth and calm. The sky was its usual late-February self: overcast grays, puffy cumulous clouds, and occasional drizzles. The weather was just gloomy enough to keep most boats off the water, but not so much that it turned the trip into a goretex-clad misery huddle. These are my favorite conditions for kayaking. I like having the water to myself, and I like watching all the gray clouds blow past. The Pacific Northwest is supposed to look gray. It feels natural.

    There were a few day trippers on the island who arrived by sailboat and kayak. For the most part, though, Hope Island was mine alone. I spent the afternoon reading on the beach and wandering the miles of trails.

    The pioneer homestead was very cool. In the early 1900s, they installed a windmill to pump water, and the Parks Department has built a working replica. The orchard is still standing, too, and you can see the old plows and other farm equipment, rusting away in place.

    As I was walking through the woods, I heard the thunk-thunk-thunk of a Pileated Woodpecker hammering on a tree trunk nearby. Eager to see the bird, I walked in the direction of the sound. No sooner did I start walking than I heard the hammering coming from behind me now. Thinking my ears were playing tricks on me, for the bird could not have flown past me unnoticed, I walked back to my starting point, only to hear the hammering coming from the original direction to my front. Where on earth was this woodpecker?

    With a loud crash, a huge piece of bark fell from above and landed right next to me, nearly striking me on the head. I looked straight up, and there was the Pileated directly above me, tearing off hunks of bark in his pursuit of insects. The sound of his hammering had seemed to change location because I'd been walking past him each time I changed direction.

    I pressed my ear against the bole of the alder tree to listen to the woodpecker hammer. With my ear in contact with the wood, the entire tree turned into a giant, deep drum, and the sound of the hammers resounded with a boom-boom-boom. The whole tree vibrated with the force of his blows. I could imagine what a tiny little weevil in the bark must make ofhe enormous noise—it must sound like Thor's own hammer, pounding its way remorselessly toward you.

    Sunday was much rainier, so I ended up in goretex after all. After a few turns through the orchard, a nice salmon cream cheese lunch, and an afternoon nap, I paddled back to Boston Harbor in the drizzle. Rafts of Harbor Seals greeted me along the way, and I found myself wishing I could bob along on these waters with them forever.

    The seals were the only mammals I saw this trip, other than people's pet dogs on the mainland. There were raccoon tracks, but the raccoons never showed themselves. A loud chorus of tree frogs started up just as the sun was going down, and they sang me to sleep in my tent, a very pleasant lullaby.

    Hope Island was a great overnighter, and a real highlight of the south Puget Sound. For route-planning purposes, take care not to confuse this Hope Island State Park with the Hope Island State Park up north near Deception Pass. Two different islands, both state parks, both named Hope. Perhaps we could rename one of them Desire Island? Optimism Island? Anticipation Island? I would definitely paddle to Anticipation Island, especially if this fall, when the apples in that orchard will be ripe.

  2. Yeti

    Yeti Paddler

    Jan 3, 2015
    Van Isle BC
    Nice little spring trip, looks like a peaceful place!
    Thanks for sharing Alex :)
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    May 31, 2005
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Great narrative, Alex. Hope is a just right objective for the shoulder seasons. There is so much more going on in spring.
  4. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Nov 2, 2005
    Hope Island is nice place any time of year but especially nice in the Winter. I usually visit via Hammersly Inlet, though.