Wednesday, September 14
Since the full moon’s conjunction with Jupiter the evening skies have been cloud-free and I’ve watched the waning moon rise later and smaller each night as if slowly being consumed by its endless and futile pursuit of the king of the planets. The wonders of the night sky, unencumbered by the glow of cities, are yet another reason why we cruise.
Today was a no-boat-travel day. Instead we travelled on foot, hiking the trail to the Squirrel Cove anchorage. In the summer, Squirrel Cove is usually packed with boats – today there were only six. We decided to hike the Norway Loop to get back to our boat. The last time we hiked the loop, in 2018 or so, it was jammed with so many blow downs that it was almost impossible. Since then the trail has been mostly cleared and was very nice. There was even a hand made trail map posted on a tree.
We seem to be on the edge of the smoke – it’s barely evident here but talking to other boaters we understand it is much worse to the south. Northwest winds and showers are expected starting as early as tomorrow night so we hope that helps. In the meantime we are just taking it easy.
Thursday, September 15
Today was another hiking day. We thought about going to the Squirrel Cove store which is about 3 miles away but half that is walking on a road so we elected to try the Cliff Peak trail which we haven’t done before. The trail mostly follows old logging roads and ends at a bluff with nice views somewhat short of the actual summit of Cliff Peak. The trail seems to follow the route shown on the Cortes Island Trail Map. But that’s the extent of the good news. The picture shows a typical blow down on the trail – and there were several hundred of them to be negotiated before we got to our view bluff at an elevation of about 1000 feet. And of course negotiated again on the way back. It was an exhausting 8.2 mile hike. Karen earned six badges (band-aids). The hot showers at the end were never more welcome.
It’s been cloudy all day. That may help explain the moon jellies rising to the surface around supper time. Moon jellies are small, 4-6 inches in diameter but they almost covered the surface of the water. It was an incredible display. Perhaps they’re here to spawn.
On a normal summer day there are 20 or 30 boats in Von Donop. Last night there were only 4 and tonight only 5. Fall is a nice time to come to Desolation Sound – the trails are in good shape and there is much less boat traffic. It’s a good time to go to some of those overly popular spots that have way too many boats in summer.
Friday, September 16
It rained overnight and the morning Northwest breeze brought beautiful blue skies and puffy white clouds, all signs of smoke gone.
I guess the anchor was really dug into the bottom in Von Donop Inlet because when we pulled it up, with some difficulty I might add, there was a HUGE ball of mud and stuff attached to it. I had to use the boat hook to pry it off and even then the wash down took almost 20 minutes. I don’t think the boat would have gone anywhere even if it blew a gale. Now that’s security.
We decided to head to Roscoe Inlet, a small bay in Desolation Sound that has a drying bar across its entrance. When the tide is lower than 3 feet the bar is above water so it takes a higher tide to make it across the bar without running aground. And it so happens that the tides right now are perfect to go to Roscoe and spend a few days. We like Roscoe because it has some nice hikes, including one we have never done, so that was the deciding factor.
When we got there and after we had anchored on the second attempt (the first site was too close to other boats) we went on a nice hike up to Black Lake. In warmer weather the lake is great for swimming and only 200 yards from where we left the dinghy but the trail continues about a mile up one side of the lake ending in another delightful swimming spot. The pretty easy two mile hike was the perfect warm up after the last two days. We also got to talk to several of the other boaters currently anchored in the bay and exchange stories. Wonderful.
The moon jellies came to the surface at supper time in Roscoe Bay just like at Von Donop. Is it a Desolation Sound phenomenon? It is beautiful to watch them undulating at the surface in their multitudes in the clear water.
Saturday, September 17
This was another day to stay in place and not travel. We had read about a rough trail that was put in about 20 years ago and marked with surveyor’s tape but otherwise not maintained. Fresh from our experience with Cliff Peak we wanted to give it a try.
The first problem was finding the place along the shore line where the trail began. The trail description we had was one sentence long and didn’t say much except it started near the entrance of the bay. So we rowed around the edge of the anchorage and managed to find it at a little beach. It was a narrow footpath that had clear use and was marked with tape (we even added some of our own) but it would be a stretch to call it a trail. There was a major blowdown near the start that had us confused both going and coming but otherwise route finding was straightforward and there weren’t many more recent blow downs (the path rerouted itself around older ones).
The path itself went directly up a ridge that didn’t look steep on the topo map but managed to gain 850 feet in a mile to a very nice viewpoint looking at the islands of Desolation Sound through sparse stands of madrona and hemlock. We enjoyed our lunch.
The ridge went on but the path seemed to end at that point. It might be possible to climb to even better views but that would fall in the category of bushwhacking, which neither of us wanted to undertake so we headed down to the boat and waiting hot showers.