San Juan Islands, Part 2: Orcas Island and Mt. Constitution

As we were making plans for our weekend in the San Juans, my only request was that we hiked Mt. Constitution. I didn’t care where we stayed, what we ate and drank, but I really wanted to grab that county highpoint. Fortunately for me, Liz and Lauren were totally on board with the plan and we were all excited to check out Orcas Island. I think Liz was regretting her agreement to the plan when a 5am wake-up was planned to make the two ferry hop to Orcas. However, by the end of the day, I don’t think any of us were upset about getting up early because everything was glorious.

The man taking this photo was very concerned with how small we were (and he was also probably a bit surprised at the young lady bouncing all over the boat handing her phone to him requesting a picture).

When we arrived in Eastsound, we were all starving an indulged in second breakfast at Brown Bear Baking. We spent a little bit of time debating which three treats to get and someone brilliantly suggested we actually get four. A gentleman waiting in line with us leaned over and stage whispered, “The answer is always more” so we listened and ordered ourselves a slew of treats. Everything about this was a major yes and we made short work of everything. Brown Bear Baking, you deserve all the thumbs up.

After breakfast it was time to get started on our hike. The maps clearly showed a meandering hike along Mountain Lake before the trail began climbing much steeper to the summit. We rambled alongside the super clear lake exclaiming all the while about how beautiful it was and how it was still so early. (I mean, it was standard hiking time but it just felt like we’d accomplished so much already for a vacation day…)

The forest was classic northwest gorgeousness with the sun filtering down through the very green trees as we walked along the cushion-y path. (Seriously, no where else in the country has trails as pleasant for the feet as Washington and Oregon.)

It was a little jarring to emerge from the woods onto a road for the final jaunt to the summit. After seeing just a couple of parties, the sheer number of people that had driven up was kind of overwhelming but the CCC-built observation tower was pretty cool.

The view was absolutely astounding. Sadly there were some distant clouds on the Cascades and the Olympics but it was really cool to get a perspective on Puget Sound from 2,000′ up and from much more northerly perspective than I’d ever been.

After the hike, we headed to Island Hoppin’ Brewery to have a sampler. Their brewery dog has a life that Sprocket definitely envies: living surrounded by water at a brewery…

After our beers, we hustled down to the ferry landing to make sure that we made our ferry. We were plenty early so we relaxed in Orcas Village while waiting for our boat.

It was hard to object to the gorgeous weather on the ferry ride back to Anacortes.

Once we were back on Guemes Island, while Lauren and Liz prepped dinner, I headed out for a run/hike to the highest point on the island. (The peakbagger in me gets the best of me sometimes.) I had such a great time traveling with these girls. I felt super fortunate to have a chance to check out the “other San Juans” (the Island type as opposed to my Colorado mountains), go for a hike, and mostly spend some time with people I feel totally myself around.

San Juan Islands, Part 1: Guemes Island

Friday morning, after getting a some what delayed start, we headed to the International District for dim sum (why have I not ever had this before??!?) and some great conversation. After $10 in food for each of us, we were all stuffed and headed to the car rental location and headed north for Anacortes.

Despite growing up in Washington, I’d never been to the San Juan Islands (commonly known in Washington as the “San Juans” or just “the Islands”) and I was excited do do some exploring! After a little grocery shopping in Anacortes, we moved on to the next order of business: ice cream before the ferry at Mad Hatter where I sampled some Lopez Island Creamery and Edallen Dairy ice cream options.

We missed our intended ferry to Guemes by three cars but since it’s a pretty short round trip, we didn’t despair and instead soaked in some gorgeous Washington waterfront scenery.

We couldn’t have been happier with the AirBnB we found. Nestled in the trees in the middle of the island, it was super quiet and a great home base for the weekend. (As much as I loved it, I’ll definitely get a place on the state ferry system next time.)

Since we’d arrived fairly early in the day, we had time to drive around the island a bit (it’s not large so it didn’t take very long). We hung out on this beach at Guemes Island Resort for quite awhile staring at the water and the mountains in the distance.

When we stopped to check out the General Store, we found that they had a small bar (that was hopping for happy hour!) so we grabbed some beers and headed out to the deck where we enjoyed watching the ferry sail back and forth to Anacortes while the smell of lavender mixed with the salty air (that sounds so cheesy but it’s the absolute truth).

We continued our drive, giving a ride to a woman walking back to her daughter’s from the ferry, and then made our way back to the house. Just as the sun was setting, I stole a page from my friend Jenn, and we headed out for a sunset wine walk: