Thursday, November 30, 2023

Cypress Island

Heading out to the island

Yesterday, Wednesday, 12 Senior Trailblazers set out on our second trip with Island Opportunity Charters, a locally owned and operated water taxi that takes people on all sorts of adventures in the San Juan islands. This time we went to Cypress Island, a relatively undeveloped island close to the Puget Sound. From that link:
The island offers a scenic reminder of conditions in Western Washington prior to European settlement.  Steep Island topography provides vistas of the San Juan Islands, mainland Washington and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  Cypress Island is a popular destination for boaters, offering recreation opportunities, scenic viewpoints, lakes, and miles of trails.
We were dropped off at Smuggler's Cove, and we started a hike almost right from the beach. The owners had a couple of other obligations and we said we would meet them at Pelican's Beach for a pickup at 3:00. Since it was barely 10:00am, we had plenty of time to find what the area had to offer us.

The group, with Eagle's Nest behind us

Before we left the boat, the owner took a picture of us with Eagle's Nest, that pinnacle behind us, as our highest destination spot. We were all successful in getting there, but first a bit of our day's activities.

Duck Lake

We first hiked to Duck Lake and saw a few small ducks in there, but mostly it was just a pretty view, and our first foray out into the wilderness. There was an old dilapidated cabin with a homemade "bench" for some of us to try out.

Me and Ina Sue

You know, I fully expected that we would be fighting the cold (it was subfreezing when we left Bellingham), but it was amazingly warm all day. Of course, not many of us took off much clothing, but there was not a breath of wind, making it seem much warmer. Then we went off to Eagle Cove, and noticed a sign that would take us to Reed Lake. Since it was only .6 miles, we decided to go for it. What we didn't realize is that it also ascended around 6-700 feet in that short distance. But we did get there.

Aldo Leopold bench

Don, who knows about such things, pointed out this Aldo Leopold bench beside Reed Lake. Do you know who he was? "The bench is named for Aldo Leopold, an internationally recognized figure in wildlife conservation and pioneering author and philosopher on environmental ethics and land stewardship." I learned about him from a fellow blogger, who sent me a copy of his Sand County Almanac

Reed Lake

You can see why it's named Reed Lake. And you can see how beautiful the area is, and why it's wonderful to see it continuing to remain undeveloped. There are only a few people living on the island, but they were nowhere near us.

Trail sign

When we would come to a trail junction, we would be reminded where we were, and how far to the next spot(s) of interest. We did return to Eagle Cove for lunch, and after we finished, we headed off towards Pelican Beach, where we would take a side trip up to Eagle's Nest (seen from a distance in that group photo). The view, however, from our lunch spot was spectacular. Mt. Baker came out for a quick view.

Mt. Baker on the horizon

When we passed by here later, the mist had covered up the view, so we felt very fortunate to have been able to see this at all. But we had a long and rigorous climb ahead of us to reach Eagle's Cliff. We ascended about 1,000 feet in just over a mile, so you know it was tough. But for me it was just as hard coming down. However, at the top, we had a great view!

View from Eagle's Cliff

I was so happy to finally get back to moderately safe trails as we descended. And I was happy that nobody was close enough to hear me whimper as I went down, much of the time on my rear end. And then our trip was over, with us only a few minutes late, with our trusty water taxi waiting for us.

Goodbye, Cypress Island

It was a wonderful day, a delightful adventure, and we have our leader Barb to thank for arranging it, and Bill for leading us to the top of Eagle's Cliff without so much as a scraped elbow! I was dubious that we would all make it safely, but we did, and now it's a memory I will not soon forget. Nine miles of hiking and some unknown elevation gain, too.

Today, however, I'm a little tired. I skipped the Thursday hike but did manage to walk three miles so I could close my fitness rings. Thanks to all who made our journey so much fun!


  1. Well done!!! I am glad that you had such a good day, and totally unsurprised you are a little tired. I would be completely knackered.

  2. What a great adventure. You did well to complete that journey, Jan. Not many of us seniors would be able to do the same.

  3. Great adventure, DJan! Sounds like you're having a great birthday week.

  4. I read a little about Cypress Island after your last post. It is a beautiful preserve so close to the mainland. So glad you had fun, even on your bum, during your pageant.

  5. Nice to go to places where there is very limited development.

  6. It is exciting to find this group of people willing to go places you haven't seen in all the hiking you've done all these years. Not surprising you are tired. :) Beautiful vistas!

  7. It must have been both exciting and fulfilling.

  8. What an amazing day! I envy you. My right hip would prevent me from hiking 9 miles, but I enjoyed hiking vicariously with you.

  9. Hi DJan, You really did a great job on this post. Excellent photos give us the flavor of the whole journey. It does sound challenging, especially for a group of “seniors.” I’m awarding “EXTRA CREDIT” for two photos: Aldo Leopold bench, and Mt Baker on the horizon. Final score: 4.5 out of 4.0. 😊

  10. What an amazing adventure! Happy Birthday DJan!

  11. What a great hike! I am glad an Aldo Leopold bench was there! Fun to see the beautiful views! Happy Birthday today!!

  12. Missed it by one day. 😊 Belated Happy Birthday DJan! 😊

  13. Duck Lake and that bench - frame worthy photos! Hope your rear end recovered.


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