Burrows Island, San Juan Islands, WA 1–2 May 2021


Jan 10, 2009
Seattle WA
[Cross-posted at alexsidles.com]

For Maya’s first camping trip of the season, I wanted to take her to someplace she’d never been. Strawberry Island would have been perfect, but currents were adverse. To reach Strawberry, we’d have needed northbound currents in the morning and southbound currents in the afternoon. Currents this week were running the opposite, so Strawberry Island was out of reach.

However, the southbound morning current was perfect for kayaking to Burrows Island, just around the corner from Anacortes.

00 Route map.jpg

00 Route map. Burrows Island provided shelter from the southerly wind.

Most of Burrows Island is a state park, so the forest is relatively intact. The shoreline consists mainly of rocky cliffs, unsuitable for landing, but there are a couple of small, widely scattered beaches. State Parks has put a campground at the largest of these on the eastern side of the island.

The San Juan Islands get crowded during the summer, but this early in spring, Maya and I were the only ones overnighting on Burrows. A handful of day-tripping kayakers stopped by for lunch on Saturday and Sunday but did not linger.

01 Dogs all lined up.jpg

01 The dogs are all lined up, ready to go. The night before a kayak-camping trip, Rachel and I always set out Maya’s dog pack on top of their drybag.

02 Launch at Washington Park.JPG

02 Launch at Washington Park, Anacortes. In the background, Blakely Island to the left, Cypress Island to the right.

03 Kayaking in Burrows Pass.JPG

03 Kayaking through Burrows Pass. Fishermen (human) and oystercatchers (avian) lined the rocky shore of Burrows Pass.

04 Alex and Maya in tent Burrows Island.JPG

04 Alex and Maya in tent, Burrows Island. The weather was so fair we slept without a rainfly on the tent.

Even though most of Burrows Island is a park, there are no trails to speak of. The few Maya and I tried to follow dead-ended in brush after only a short distance. We confined ourselves to the campground and the beach. There were still plenty of adventures for us.

At one point, Maya asked, “What’s that laughing sound?” Sure enough, there it went again, a harsh, “Har! Har! Har!” from somewhere overhead.

It was a raven, taunting us from the safety of the treetops. Through the mesh of the tent, we could see it perched on a branch above us, laughing at our lumbering, land-bound lifestyles.

06 Hiking on Burrows Island beach.jpg

05 Maya hiking on beach. At high tide, most of the beach disappeared.

05 Salmonberry flower Burrows Island.JPG

06 Salmonberry flowers in the forest. The salmonberry is one of our earliest fruits each spring and one of our most delicious.

07 Maya on rocks on Burrows Island.JPG

07 Maya on the rocks, Burrows Island. The sun-warmed rocks offered a welcome reprieve from the cool shade of the forest.

08 Kayaking back to Washington Park.JPG

08 Heading back to Anacortes. The current was moderately adverse during our return, but I was able to find eddies along the shore.

09 Chips in the kayak.JPG

09 Chips, one of the principal members of the dog pack, riding in the kayak. During the paddle back to Anacortes, Maya borrowed the camera to photograph the subjects of greatest interest.

Burrows Island is sometimes overshadowed by the flashier San Juan Islands just across the strait, but for a dad and his daughter, it was a perfect place to spend a weekend together in the spring.


[Cross-posted at alexsidles.com]
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