This week we hear from students Alex and Kayla, as they make their way to the coast!
"We began our week as captains with a long drive from Coeur d'alene, Idaho to Oak Harbor, Washington. On the way to Oak Harbor, we stopped in Seattle to visit the first ever REI, complete with a massive fireplace and outdoor waterfall. For lunch, Pacific Discovery treated everyone to Dick’s, Nathan’s favourite burger spot in town. Eventually we arrived at the Coachman Inn where nearly everyone enjoyed fresh sushi at Harbor Sushi and continued to relax in the outdoor heated pool and 2 hot tubs under the stars.
An early start involved checking out of the Coachman Inn and taking the ferry from Oak Harbor to Orcas Island, home to our new camp site. We immediately took advantage of the San Juan islands by going on a beautiful sea kayaking expedition led by Jason and Nate, featuring Canada, sea lions, porpoises, and the other Western US Pacific Discovery group!!! The weather was so cooperative without current or cold that we were able to kayak between the islands, across the open sea. After kayaking back to Orcas Island and having lunch, we drove to settle down and set up camp at Moran State Park.
After a night of rain and scheduled downpour for the entirety of the day, Amelia and Nathan decided it would be best to not attempt our scheduled hike but instead venture to Friday Harbor to simply explore and splurge at the local stores. Despite our close proximity to Canada, we were unable to get poutine but did enjoy excellent food, some of which Luke described as “the best seafood he’s ever had.” On top of that, many people enjoyed the local ice cream and got excellent jewelry. Late in the afternoon we caught another ferry back to camp and called it a day.
A relaxing day only means a hardworking one after, and this stayed true as we walked down the road to the trailhead of an 11 mile hike up 2200 ft and back down in Moran State Park. Though some struggled more than others during the hike, we eventually reached The Tower, a nearly 100 year old stone structure built at the summit to view the surrounding sea and great peaks of Washington, including Mt Baker. Easily one of the top views of the trip, we spent a healthy amount of time taking pictures and basking in our completed climb before going back down to camp.
We were up before the sun to pack up camp and take the ferry back to Oak Harbor. Once there, we explored more of Seattle, including the Space Needle, the Fremont Troll, and a Dick’s burger eating competition that left Eric in comatose and Rob the undisputed champion. As Alex and Eric called it quits at 5 and 6, respectively, Rob swallowed a total of 8 burgers in the span of one hour. After spending the beginning of the afternoon in Seattle, we drove south to Camp Seymour, Ray Ray’s favorite place on Earth.
Nathan, or Ray Ray to his camp friends, led the day in teaching us about Camp Seymour’s unique living machine and guiding us through some of the camp’s fun activities. The living machine consists of a $12 million reusable water system across camp that ensures zero waste and naturally purifies water. After learning about that at the greenhouse and farm, we had a blast killing dinosaurs with the bow and arrow on the archery range before enjoying our first hot lunch, featuring tacos, since A Lodge! In the afternoon, we navigated the Forbidden Forest through a couple of low ropes team building challenges, highlighted by the rope swing, the boat, the labyrinth, and the plank, where many true American heroes stood out. We closed the relatively relaxing day with some evening guitar songs led by Jackie and a productive self-led week meeting, finalizing our itinerary.
After sleeping in, we spent the rest of the morning kayaking and canoeing on Seymour’s Cove before having another deliciously cooked lunch of cheesy pasta. In the afternoon, Logan and Nathan helped us all conquer the Vertical PlayPen, with Evan and Alex achieving the feat in only 3 minutes, while Natalie, Kayla, Maggie, and Rob inspired by overcoming bum limbs or a fear of heights to reach the top. After that, we all rewarded ourselves with a chill ride on the dual zip in Seymour’s Outback. That night, we had a Bring Your Own Stick” Kabab night by the fire with lots of extra veggies.
After saying our goodbyes to Camp Seymour and driving up to the northwest tip of the continental US, we explored the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park with a few scenic hikes. On the hikes, we saw massive spruce trees, fabulous hanging moss, and the same ARCC group from our first campsite in Jackson! In the late afternoon, we left the rainforest to set up camp in Forks at the Savage Streams campground.
Thursday brought another early morning as we set out to beat high tide in order to complete a treacherous 9 mile hike on the Ozette trail. It started off pleasantly as we first enjoyed a 3 mile forest boardwalk, but this was followed by 3 miles of a very rocky shore featuring plenty of bear scat, dead seals, and flies galore. However, the excellent view of the ocean, coupled with two bald eagles visible from the final hilltop made the beach walk worth it to most of the group. The final 3 miles provided the perfect cool down, as the trail once again reverted back to the boardwalked forest trail. Once we got back to camp, many unwound by exploring the town of Forks, especially the official Twilight store! We ended the day and our captainship with another edition of Embers and Affirmations by the fire as Lance and Sadie were announced as the next to hold the captaincy torch." - Alex and Kayla
Learn more about our Western USA semester program here!