Articles tagged with: trip report

Is it Sea Kayaking if You’re on a Lake?

Destinations: Washington’s Ross Lake and Clark Island in the Salish Sea

Can you sea kayak on a lake? In order to answer that challenging question, I signed up for two trips with the Whatcom Association of Kayak Enthusiasts (WAKE), one on Ross Lake and the other to Clark Island, in the Salish Sea. To those of you that think the answer is obvious, don’t be so quick to judge. I’ve paddled my whitewater kayak in sea, as you can see in the video below. This wasn’t considered whitewater kayaking, and it wasn’t even considered sea kayaking. It was considered paddling a slow, stubby kayak in the sea, and getting tossed around a bit. What makes sea kayaking sea kayaking? Is it the kayak? Or is it the sea?

Curt in Whitewater Kayak on the Sea

Curt in Whitewater Kayak on the Sea

 

You might wonder why I would even care. Well, my wife Mary and I had recently joined WAKE. This is a group of serious outdoor enthusiasts, and we certainly didn’t want to look like numbskulls. The Ross Lake trip leader, Reg Lake, along with a group of famous climbers had once carried their kayaks over California’s Mt Whitney to be the first ones to kayak the Upper Kern River. One of the couples on the trip had both belonged to Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the country. Another trip participant would qualify for mountain man status, living and working deep in the North Cascades. Others in our group had kayaked and adventured in remote locations all over the world. So, imagine if on the Ross Lake trip, I slipped up and said, “isn’t this sea kayaking stuff fun?”

One of them might have responded, “Sea kayaking? This is lake kayaking! Don’t you know anything about sea kayaking?” For the same reason, I couldn’t ask anyone the sea kayak question. I’d have to figure it out for myself. Thus, I signed up for a lake trip and a sea trip. Before I answer the big question, let me tell you a little about these trips.

Ross Lake

Ross Lake is a spectacular 23 mile long lake that winds through the North Cascades Mountains. Although most of the lake is in Washington, my wife Mary and I decided it’d be easier to reach the lake by driving up to Hope BC, Canada and down a 40 mile gravel road to the boat launch, which is just across the US border. Three out of the nine of the trip participants opted for the alternate route, paddling across Diablo Lake, up a canyon to the dam, then calling Ross Lake Resort for a portage and paddling another 10 or so miles up the lake.Kayaks on Ross Lake

As it turned out, we struggled hard for each of the 12 miles against a 15 knot head wind. We continued for hours because waves crashing into the rocky shoreline made it unsafe to stop. It sure seemed like sea kayaking conditions. During this struggle, Mary barely responded, when I’d ask how she was doing, so I worried. Is she miserable? Will she ever do a kayak trip with me again?

When we finally reached Lightning Creek Camp, sometime after six, the group that had taken the southern route greeted us cheerfully. They had effortlessly been carried up the lake by wind and waves, mainly using their paddles to steer. We forced a smile and said, “That’s great!”

Although our Lightning Creek campsite was remote, the National Park Service does a fine job of furnishing and maintaining the campsites. We had an outhouse, picnic tables and a bear box. There are lots of black bears in the area, and a few grizzlies too. If you’re not familiar with bear boxes, your food goes in the box, not the bear.

In camp, we really enjoyed visiting with our fellow paddlers. I already mentioned Reg Lake and the search and rescue couple. Our camp neighbor, Pam Beason, whom we shared a picnic table with, is a novelist, part-time private investigator, scuba diver and adventuress with plenty of fascinating stories.

Mary on Desolation Peak

Mary on Desolation Peak

After a surprisingly good sleep, we had breakfast and discussed our day’s adventure, a hike up Desolation Peak. Three members of our party kayaked to the base, while the rest of us opted for the longer route, hiking from camp to avoid more kayaking in the wind. Our longer route covered 14+ miles and 4,400 feet of elevation gain. We definitely got a well-rounded workout, working our upper-bodies the first day and our legs the second day. Views along the way and from the lookout were outstanding, as you can see in the photos. We returned to camp with a strong sense of accomplishment.

Kayaker in front of waterfall

Reg Lake and a Waterfall

The third day was glorious! We started out early and paddled up Lightning Creek and other fjord-like inlets, finding crystal clear water in cascading creeks and beautiful waterfalls. Reg Lake and I even did a little whitewater style surfing with our sea kayaks. Unfortunately, he never referred to it as “sea kayaking,” so my question still hung in the air. If you’re on a lake is it sea kayaking? On our paddle up the lake, we didn’t have much wind, giving us a chance to visit all the places we’d paddled right by on the way down. We visited more waterfalls, campsites and took a close look at miles of beautiful shoreline.

Clark Island in the Salish Sea

On the following weekend’s trip, my wife opted not to join me. She apparently had enough kayaking to last a few weeks. I set out with six other sea kayakers for Clark Island, in the Salish Sea. You probably noticed that I confidently referred to them as sea kayakers, since we were in sea kayaks and on the Salish Sea, leaving no room for doubt.Kayaks at Clark Island

We paddled in protected waters until Pt Migley, at the north end of Lummi Island, where we were suddenly exposed to wind and waves from far up Georgia Strait. To make matters more exciting, Pt Migley has shallow rocks, currents and a dozen or so harbor seals that slid into the water as we paddled by, reminding me of the crocodiles in a safari movie.

Between Lummi and Clark Islands, we contended with wind, waves, and crossing a major shipping channel, definitely sea kayaking. At Clark Island, we pulled our kayaks up onto a gravel beach with stunning views of Mt Baker and the Twin Sisters. Like everyone else, I set out to find an appropriate campsite, choosing one set just back from the beach with surrounding brush for privacy.DSC_0404

Once I’d organized my camp, I set out on a trail to explore the island. We got a better look at it that evening, when four of us paddled around the island. After dinner, we watched Mt Baker turn from snowy white to alpenglow red; then we hiked across the island just in time for sunset.Sunset from Clark Island

Around 1:00 AM, a fierce wind hit, pulling up one of my tent stakes and shaking the heck out of my tent. I stared at my tent ceiling and listened to it flap while contemplating what the wind would mean for us, if it didn’t die down. How big would the waves be? If we had to sit it out, how much food did I have? How much water? Eventually, I went back to sleep and awoke to relative calm. Later, I learned that most of my fellow kayakers had been awake thinking similar thoughts. Our paddle back actually turned out to be quite pleasant.

Conclusion

As to the sea kayaking question, it was clear that paddling a sea kayak on the Salish Sea qualified as sea kayaking. I still wasn’t sure regarding paddling a sea kayak on a lake, so I tried Wikipedia. Searching for “sea kayaking,” their entry for “sea kayak” comes up. It describes “a kayak developed for the sport of paddling on open waters of lakes, bays, and the ocean.” Clearly, it mentions lakes. We’ll have to go with the answer “yes” that it is sea kayaking if it’s on a lake, as long as you’re in a sea kayak. If Wikipedia says it, it must be true. The truth is it really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re enjoying yourself. I sure did on both of those trips.

Quick National Park Trip

Glacier

National Parks: Glacier, Yellowstone & Roosevelt

by Curt Remington

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Fantastic! I got recruited for an impromtu road trip to three national parks: Glacier, Yellowstone and Theodore Roosevelt. Along with that, I would see 3800 miles of our glorious country, visit my mother in Minnesota, move our daughter to Washington, and do it all in five days.  Truth is, it was a trip to pick up my daughter, but I decided to squeeze in the national parks too. My schedule didn’t leave much times for the parks, so I planned to hit a few highlights in each, all at a whirlwind pace.

I set out from Bellingham, Washington on August 27th, taking a scenic route through the North Cascades.  I could have just stayed on the freeway, but what’s a few more miles? I sure didn’t want to miss any potentially stunning pictures. In the Cascades, I saw some beautiful rivers, mountains and waterfalls, but the lighting just was just too overcast for great pictures. Once over the Cascades, I made a brief stop in Leavenworth, Washington, a scenic tourist town that looks like a Bavarian village. I filled up on bratwurst, visited a few quaint shops and moved on towards the Columbia River and eastern Washington.


Glacier Park

After dark that night, I made it to a campground in Glacier National Park and crawled into a sleeping bag in the back seat of my Toyota Tundra. The next morning, I was up before dawn, hoping to catch sunrise over Lake McDonald. As I brushed my teeth, I debated on whether to throw the camping fee into the box. All I had really done was park in a spot for a few hours, not really what you’d call camping. I’d pretty much decided I’d pay, just so my conscience wouldn’t trouble . I arrived back at my truck to find the campground host filling out a registration in the dark. Wow, they sure get up early. I gave him the money and set out to get some pictures of Glacier.

sunsetDriving through Glacier brought back memories for me of many earlier trips. Just out of high school, I had decided to spend a year as a mountain man. My plan was to get a PO box in West Glacier and camp in the mountains south of the park. After about a month alone in the mountains, I decided that civilization in Minnesota wasn’t really so bad. Years later, my wife and I brought our kids to Glacier for a week of rafting, hiking and sightseeing. It was one of the best vacations we ever had.

With these memories going through my mind, I arrived at Lakerivertwo McDonald at sunrise. Like the day before in Washington, the scenery was beautiful but a bit cloudy. This is a definite problem when you only have one day in a park. I shot a whole bunch of pictures anyway, so I’d have something to discard later. Go figure.

Making my way deeper into the park, I stopped at a few trails and falls, hitting the trails at a run with camera gear flopping at my side. Back in the truck, I started climbing Going to the Sun Road, which was carved into the side of the mountains in 1933. The road is always narrow and winding, but road construction made it incredibly so. I folded in the large mirrors and reflected on memories of another earlier trip. Shortly before my mountain man experiment, my dad lent my friends and I his Winnebago, so I could do some scouting. Looking at the cliffs which overhang the road, and the shear drops, it was obvious why motorhomes are no longer allowed. Sure enough, I managed to bang the Winnebago into a cliff, moving over for an oncoming car. I don’t think my dad even mentioned the dent. What could he expect from a bunch of 18 year olds?

horsesAlthough it was August, Logan’s Pass had three inches of new snow and a horrendous wind chill. Hidden Lake, and the trail to it, was still beautiful, so I sat on a rock overlooking the lake and meditated for 15 minutes. A great alternative to Hidden Lake, is to hike north from Logan’s Pass to Granite Park Chalet, a rustic and remote lodge surrounded by alpine meadows, jagged mountains and grizzly bears. That all day hike was too much for this trip. Next, my quick tour took me to Saint Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake and into East Glacier. Just east of the park, I came across some very rugged looking free-ranging horses with lots of scars. I’m sure there were some fascinating stories behind all those wounds.

Once I left Glacier behind, all I had to do for the rest of the day was drive across what remained of Montana. For those of you that haven’t done this, Montana is one seriously large state. Highway 2 has long straight stretches that seem to go on forever, and it is indeed big sky country. I reached Wolf Point, as the sun was setting, and turned south onto Highway 13. Between Wolf Point and Glendive, I lost count at roughly 60 mule deer, including one with the most monstrous set of antlers I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it was way too dark for pictures. Near the North Dakota border, I pulled into a rest area to get some sleep.


 

Theodore Roosevelt National Parkbigsky

elkBy dawn, I was up again photographing an elk herd, just outside Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Over the years, I had taken I-94 through the park more times than I can remember. A few of those times, I had thought of stopping and visiting the park, but I always thought it looked like a bunch of little, dried-out hills with nothing much worth seeing. Why waste time on my way to Glacier? where they have some real mountains.

Once in the park, I felt a real connection, driving and running among its buttes, plateaus and gulleys. The connection may have been due to a past life I had as an Oglala Sioux Indian, spending much of my time in South Dakota’s black hills. Or, maybe the blissful feeling I felt was because the sun had finally come out. For whatever reason, I sure enjoyed the winding road through the park, stopping for pictures of bison, prairie dogs, antelope, grouse and wild horses. If I’d known there was so much wildlife, I would’ve stopped years earlier.


 

canyonMinnesotagopher

Along with touring the park, I managed to cover North Dakota and half of Minnesota, arriving in St Cloud early enough to get a truck wash and oil change. The next morning, I arrived at my daughter Sarah’s apartment so we could load her stuff into the truck. I was surprised to find that even leaving her furniture behind, her collection of stuff exceeded the carrying capacity of my full-size, extended cab Tundra pickup. We stuffed as much as we could in, while she decided what to leave behind.

Our next stop was the Twin Cities, where we spent a night at my mom’s. I also managed a side trip to visit some old friends. I mean ones that I’ve known a long time. They’re not that old.


Yellowstone

After a good breakfast at mom’s, we set off towards Yellowstone. The drive was a great opportunity to catch up with happenings in Sarah’s life, and to share all the summer’s events in Washington. It was also an opportunity for her to try out her dad’s traveling style, eating and sleeping in the truck along with driving almost constantly. No point in wasting time. Unfortunately, the truck had gotten a little less comfortable now that it was stuffed with so much stuff. I just thought back to my life as a Sioux in the 1800’s and knew that I’d survived much worse. We spent the night sitting upright in a truck stop, listening to semis coming and going. Maybe Sarah will look back someday and think that “if I survived traveling with dad, I can survive yellowstoneanything.” Like my usual routine, we arrived in Yellowstone at sunrise, hoping to get some of the best photography light of the day. At least that’s what I was hoping. Sarah may have been hoping to get some more sleep. Just after crossing into the park, we came across a herd of elk. The stubborn animals wouldn’t move out of the trees and hold still for a picture. Well, I was pretty sure there were plenty more animals in the park. Our first scheduled stop was Lamar Valley, a broad open valley that’s known for its abundance of game. Unfortunately for Sarah, in addition to “scheduled stops,” traveling with me involves lots of unscheduled stops for wildlife, steamscenic overlooks or because the lighting looked just right. She, and the rest of the family, spent a week with in Europe with me in June, while I shot over 1600 pictures, so she probably knew what to expect.

After stopping for antelope, a bison and waterfalls, we made it to thebuffalo Lamar Valley. In order to find game, all you need do is watch for cars lining the road. We pulled in with the rest of them and watched as a distant wolf pack moved in on a bison herd. The wolves were unsuccessful with their hunting, but it was wild to watch. Anyone remember Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?

Farther up the valley, I got out and ran around a rock formation, looking for a scenic photo angle up the valley. Rounding the corner, I almost ran into an ornery looking bison. As he glared at me, I defensively drew my camera, thinking about the warnings that more people are attacked by bison then by bears in the park. As I took his picture, his only reaction was to stick his tongue out at me, then he went back to standing around. Good thing I found a lazy bison.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was an inspiring sight. The upper and lower falls have flows as high as 60,000 gallons of water per second. The 1200 foot deep canyon is steep and colorful. After the falls, we hiked around Norris Geyser Basin, careful not to step off the boardwalk into steaming water.


waterfallHome

After Sarah’s exciting Yellowstone tour with dad, she was anxious to get to her new home in Washington, a condo near our house. I even offered to pull over in another truck stop for some sleep, but she was sure that driving straight through was a better idea. We got to Bellingham at four in morning, ending the fast-paced scenic national park tour. Sarah is now living happily in Washington and enjoying occasional picture taking outings with her dad.  

Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

WalkAboutVisionQuest (1)

Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

by Curt Remington

Friday, August 14th, 2009


Rafting Hells Canyon on the Snake River, Idaho

I left the house at 4 am, thrilled to finally go on a multi-day Idaho raft trip, especially one on the Snake River’s Hells Canyon. The canyon is North America’s deepest river gorge, at 7,993 feet, almost 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. The USFS website says, “the Snake is a big river with power many river users have never experienced.” Yep, the volume of water we’d be rafting through was more than I’d experienced. Before we moved west, five years ago, I’d bought a raft, frame and all the necessary gear to take my family on multi-day raft trips. Since that time, that gear’s sat in a pile in the garage, largely due to my failure at convincing my family that rafting is a good idea.

riverFor that very reason, I’d be alone, while my friend Kerry brought his wife, sister and daughter. I pulled into a campground on the Snake River and waited in the 100 degree heat. They arrived soon, and we shared stories from our recent adventures, like my trip toAlaska and Kerry’s mountain climbing trips. We had become friends years earlier, through whitewater kayaking, and we’d climbed Mt Baker together. Along with catching up, we discussed our next day’s plans for rafting Hells Canyon. Kerry brought a 16 foot Maravia raft and lots of gear, much more than my 13′ Aire Super Puma could hold. Maybe, a bigger raft and more gear, was the secret to convincing my family to go. Then again, it might just make for a bigger pile in the garage.

At the put-in the next morning, inflating and loading the rafts became chaotic, as outfitters competed for space, working to get their flotillas of rafts and gear into the water. The permit system only allows for a few groups to enter the river each day. Unfortunately, they all seem to do so at the same time.

I threw my gear together as quickly as possible, feeling apprehensive about rowing through big, pushy class IV rapids. The rangers at the put in told us some recent, inexperienced rafters had flipped eight times. Two of the hardest rapids, Wild Sheep and Granite, would arrive within the first six miles.

My whitewater experience had been in maneuverable kayaks, or paddling a raft with a number of people. Rowing a raft loaded with gear was a brand new experience. Would my gear stay together, if the raft flipped? Maybe I’d learn fast and keep it upright. Kerry and his family looked up from their gear organizing, so I just smiled, trying to look confident. Once they had their massive pile of gear strapped in place, we set off down the river.

Within a half mile, we reached a class II rapid, and I learned an important lesson. A raft with gear, in a pushy river, does not respond anything like a whitewater kayak. I found myself rowing frantically, while the river still pushed me into the largest waves and holes. New strategy! I would have to pick a line through a rapid that involved very little course correction, once the whitewater started.

rapidsWhen we reached Wild Sheep, one of the class IVs, I learned another technique. The raft crested an eight foot wave, a bit diagonally and started to flip. I jumped out of my seat and threw my weight against the higher raft tube. That one was close!Eventually, I also learned that rowing forward, and proper timing, help keep you upright in large waves. Now that I think of it, that usually worked in rapidstwokayaks too.

Along with powerful rapids, the river’s enormous eddies and whirlpools kept us alert. If you wandered into cliffan eddy, the river pulled the raft upstream, sometimes faster than you could row. By watching the currents, and working with them, the rafts continued in the right direction.

That evening, all that gear the big raft carried made camping downright luxurious. They had real beef and potatoes, cooked at one table and served at another, along with a variety of wines. They even had a selection of appetizers. Lucky for me, my friends are generous. I had brought more of that freeze-dried food that’s been sitting in my closet for years. Kerry’s family is also very friendly, welcoming and are considerate listeners, asking questions about psychic readings, past lives and the spirit world. Conversation stopped as a young eagle circled overhead, then dived at a fish in the river.soaringbird

Overnight, the river level dropped significantly, leaving our rafts high on a gravel bar. For my light raft, that meant lifting together. For the heavily loaded raft, that meant unloading an enormous dry box and cooler, then moving the raft and reloading. Finally, we set out and made our way to the first rapids of the day. While we scouted, a group of bighorn sheep stood, watching us from the cliff above.

The second class IV that day had a group of big holes at the top, on the right side, then more big holes on the left, towards the bottom. I stood on a boulder, trying to find a path that didn’t involve hitting a big, churning hole. I couldn’t find one, so my plan was to hit the hole hard and throw my weight around, hoping the raft kept going. At this point, I mentioned to my spirit guides that help would be appreciated. Once in the rapids, I skirted the top holes, hit some waves, and the next thing I knew, I was in the clear. What happened to the holes at the bottom?  I’m not sure if I somehow missed them, but my theory goes like this: In a big surging river, a hole can be a wave one second, then turn back into a hole the next. It may be that my guides saw to it that they did just that, before I hit them. For whatever reason, I managed to make it through all the rapids, still upright.

bouldersOur next night’s camp had a swimming beach, trees for shade and beautiful views of Suicide Point, a tall cliff across the river. On most rivers, it’s the rapids that have morbid names, like Jaws, Boatbeater, Gore and Slaughterhouse.

With only seven miles, and no major rapids ahead, I left my friends early morning, hoping to make it home at a reasonable hour. Each day, we had only encountered a few other boats, due to the permit and lottery system. As I floated alone, and looked up, the remoteness and rugged beauty of the canyon truly inspired me. The eddies even settled down enough so I could meditate while I drifted.

At the Pittsburg Landing takeout, I felt a great sense of relief in finding my truck waiting, with a third of arafttank of gas. It had been close to full, when I had left it at the put-in, along with a key for the shuttle service. As I drove up the steep, winding gravel road out of the canyon, I realized how they’d used so much gas. The drive to get my truck there had no doubt been a long, steep and winding one.

After seventeen miles, I came to an intersection and realized that I was now in a remote part of Idaho and didn’t have a decent map. My gas gauge kept dropping, and there was no cell phone reception. I should have meditated and asked a guide for directions. Instead, I guessed at the next few turns and wound up miles down another winding backroad, with Highway 95 visible on the hillside above me. Tuning into intuition, I backtracked and my next turn took me to the highway. Soon, I ended up in a town with gas and phone reception. Mary, my wife, gave me directions for back roads halfway across Washington, a much quicker route than heading straight for the freeway. In fact, I made it home in time to unpack and spend a few hours sharing my adventures with her and working to convince her that raft trips are a great idea.
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Hay House Cruise to Alaska

AlaskaHeader

Trip Report: Alaska Cruise with Hay House

by Curt and Mary Remington

Monday, August 3rd, 2009


Alaska Cruise and Port Details

We boarded the ship to Alaska with anticipation, knowing this cruise could be a key turning point in our lives. Hay House (see ad to the right), a major book publisher, reserved the entire 1,380 passenger ship, the MS Amsterdam. Part of this group, myself included, signed up for a writer’s workshop with a contest for a book deal. As you may know from my blogs, I’ve been writing a book on meditation. You may also  know that my wife and I are in regular communication with the spiritual realm. The book idea, Hay House as a publisher, and signing up for this cruise were all ideas strongly encouraged by advanced spirits. They didn’t exactly promise I’d get the book deal out of this cruise, but they did strongly allude to the possibility. That’s close enough to get me excited.CurtFamily

Mary, my wife and a talented clairvoyant, eagerly signed up for another on-board program, featuring eight keynote speakers: Wayne Dyer, Brian Weiss, Sonia Choquette, Gregg Braden, Caroline Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, John Holland and Cheryl Richardson. Mary wrote the last section of this blog, describing her experience.

Heather, one of our teenage daughters, had some mixed feelings about the cruise. She looked forward to fun activities, great food and a chance to shop, while maybe feeling apprehensive about a cruiseship full of psychics and spiritually enlightened people. We all found the fellow passengers to be very warm, friendly, open-minded and quite normal.

ziplineAs an added bonus for all three of us, these seminars were taking place on a Holland America ship that would be cruising past the rugged islands and coasts of British Columbia and Alaska, visiting places like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria, British Columbia. While boating in Washington’s San Juan Islands, close to home, I’ve often dreamt of continuing north to these places. In fact, I have an earlier manuscript about The Passage. That link will take you to a chapter that was published in a canoe magazine, while Goat Hunt will take you to a chapter about a man facing aging and his mortality.

For the first day, the ship, Holland America’s Amsterdam, made mountainpasssmooth, steady progress through the open Pacific and waves which would’ve tossed my 23′ boat around violently. Along with Hay House programs, the ship offered a whole variety of activities like working out, shopping, gambling and of course eating.

The second morning, the Amsterdam cruised up sunny Gastineau Channel, with views of fishing boats and snow-capped peaks, arriving in Juneau at 11 am. Although it’s the capital of Alaska, Juneau can only be reached by air or sea, unless you have a dog sled and are very adventurous. The downtown cruise dock area is lined with tourist shops and surprising bargains, like an Alaska t-shirt for $4.99 or a small bag of quartz for $2.99. For someone with more expensive tastes, there’s also perfume, watches, electronics, furs and artwork. There are even free items stores give away, just to get you in the door.

We left the shopping behind, as a jet boat brought us across to Douglas Island and a ”rain-forest canopy and zip line adventure.” The thrill comes as you launch yourself off a tree-platform, hanging from a climbing harness and pulleys, then slide “zip” on cables as much as 180 feet above the ground. Approaching the next platform at over 30 mph, you reach up and grab the cable, stopping your zip just before crashing into the tree. The course has ten cable sections, covering 6,000 feet of cable, along with treetop suspension bridges, finishing with a rappel to the ground.

cruiseOnce back in Juneau, we boarded the Mt Roberts Tramway. It departs from the dock area, carrying passengers 1800 feet above downtown, to a visitor’s center. Mt Roberts has a network of hiking trails, with spectacular views of Juneau, Gastineau Channel and the surrounding mountains.

After a few miles of hiking, Heather returned to the ship, tired from the day’s adventures. Mary and I had just enough energy left to drink a cold Alaskan beer at Hangar on the Wharf Pub and Grill, a renovated seaplane hangar. Beyond Mary and the beer, you can see the Amsterdam towering over the red jet boat from our zipline tour. As we made our way back to the ship, three floatplanes descended to the channel and pulled up to the dock in front of the bar.

Day four, the ship made slow progress through fog and small icebergs in Yakutat Bay. Early afternoon, the fog lifted, revealing the jagged peaks of Fairweather Mountains along with Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska. It extends 76 miles from its source, with a ”calving face” stretching for six miles across the bay. The glacier appears very blue, since the ice absorbs other wavelengths of light. At the steepest part of the face, large chunks of ice rumbled, then cracked off, sending up immense plumes of spray.

Sitka is a beautiful town and an important part of Alaskan history. The port was originally settled by Tlingit planenatives. Through negotiations and fighting, control passed between the Tlingits and Russians a few times, with Sitka becoming the Russian capital of Alaska in 1808. The US bought Alaska in 1867 and kept Sitka the capital until 1906.

After taking a tender (lifeboat) to shore, we picked up our reserved mountain bikes. This turned out to be a great way to see a lot, with limited time. We managed a trail to an alpine lake, an eagle center, historic park, Bishop’s mansion tour, lunch and still fit in some downtown shopping. Who needs to rest while on vacation?

Ketchikan is the rainiest city in the US, with 152 inches of “liquid sunshine” a year. Sure enough, it rained. The local weather forecast joke goes, “If you can’t see Deer Mountain, it’s raining. If you can see it, it’s about to rain.” Our original plan to hike up Deer Mountain didn’t make much sense, because if you can’t see Deer Mountain, you probably can’t see much from the mountain either. We settled on a walk around town and exploring the marina. Creek St, an old red-light district, has very quaint shops with some true bargains, like fleece jackets for $20.

boattwoDowntown Victoria, British Columbia is spectacularly scenic and has a long list of things for tourists to do. This city is close enough to home that we’ve visited regularly. The harbor has float planes, yachts and tourist tugs, along with views of the Empress Hotel, Parliament Building and the distant Olympic Mountains. Having seen most other sights, we walked the harbor and visited the Royal Canadian Wax Museum, which you can see just above the old yacht’s stern.

Writer’s Workshop

Between all the adventures and sightseeing, I did manage to attend the on-board writer’s workshop, learning powerful techniques for writing and for improving and marketing my book project, Simple Meditation: Connecting With Spirit and Finding Your Life’s Purpose. As I mentioned earlier, my book proposal will be entered in a contest (winner picked in December) for a deal with Hay House, the publisher highly recommended by my spiritual contacts. Along with the quality of the book, publishers also look at the number of contacts writers have, so please sign up for my new Facebook fan page. You might help ensure the success of my book, get more people meditating, and improve the quality of life on the planet Earth. Thanks!

As you may have noticed, I was so enthused about Hay House that I signed up as an advertiser. Clicking onfloatingbuildings any of the Hay House banners will take you to the appropriate page of their website where you can find enlightening books, cd’s and cards. Buying and reading some might dramatically improve your life.

The night before the cruise, we went to see Wayne Dyer speak in Seattle. My daughter, Heather, was so moved by his talk that she asked if she could listen to all the speakers on the cruise. We signed her up, so she and Mary attended them together. Heather enjoyed and learned a great deal from all eight speakers. Unfortunately, I missed these, so Mary wrote the rest of this blog, describing the talks she attended.


Mary’s Write-Up of Hay House Program

When I look back on this life changing and inspirational experience, it will be remembered with great reverence and gratitude. I am grateful to our spirit guide “Chief” who, without a doubt, was the guiding light that inspired my husband and I to go. I would also like to extend my greatest appreciation to all of the Hay House authors who have inspired me and touched my soul forever. They have devoted their lives to such worthy and healing causes, which is surely having a ripple affect throughout our planet. Although I couldn’t possibly sum up all of the invaluable information I absorbed during the seminars, I would like to share some of my thoughts and say “thank you” to each author.

Wayne Dyer

How can I begin? I would consider him one of the greatest inspirational teachers of this generation. My husband, Curt, has been a big advocate of his for many years, since he read “Your Erroneous Zones.” He has promoted this book to the whole family, from time to time, for various reasons. If you had a problem, it was always “go read Your Erroneous Zones”. He read it as a teen ,at a time when he was searching for answers, and it changed his life. I have

great admiration for Wayne Dyer. From all of the turmoil in his childhood, he found a way to transform his life into something with great meaning and purpose. He had a vision and he followed it and continues to follow it. He truly motivates and inspires everyone he touches.

Caroline Myss

What a smart, tough, no excuses approach to heal your life. She tells it like it is and teaches us to take a hard look at ourselves, stop blaming others and stop trying to find a reason for what’s gone wrong in our lives. She emphasized forgiveness, gratitude and being of service. This was my first con tact with Caroline Myss and will definitely not be my last. I feel that my life’s purpose is in healing and I’m like a sponge for any information about it. Thank you Caroline for your inspiring words.

Brian Weiss

He’s definitely good at what he does. He had the entire audience in a state of hypnosis in a flash with his caaaalm, soooothing voice and description of beautiful, peaceful places. Who wouldn’t want to go there? I’m a strong believer in re-incarnation and know that healing can come from discovering events or trauma in our past lives, that keep us stuck or unhappy in our present lives. Brian Weiss is well respected, and his revolutionary techniques are revered world wide. He’s certainly an advocate of meditation, which I think is a healing and powerful practice that we should all adopt.

Sonia Choquette

Sonia is a gifted psychic with a colorful, creative and energetic personality, and she knows how to have fun! Sonia teaches us how to wake up our spirit and our sixth or psychic sense. We need to listen to our higher self, which has important information that we cannot get from our conscious mind. She also stresses the importance of connecting with the creator, our spirit guides and angels who help guide us on our path. To help us let go of our inhibitions and wake up our spirit, a little dancing didn’t hurt either. Very fun!

Gregg Braden

Gregg’s talk was a mix of science, history and spirituality that was fascinating. It was interesting to learn that we’ve had cycles throughout history and these cycles or patterns repeat themselves. Most importantly, the choices we make as a species, can have a big impact on these cycles. The Mayan predictions about the end of time in 2012 have many people questioning, is it true and, if so, what can we do to change it. Getting in touch with our inner spirit, letting go of fear, helping others and healing the planet are some of the things we can do now. Gregg’s vision of our future left me very encouraged and hopeful

Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla is a vibrant, free spirited, crazy kind of woman and I loved her! Starting with some Hallelujah’s, some movin’ and swayin‘, connecting with ourselves as spirit and having great gratitude for life was a wonderful way to start the day. What a beautiful soul she is. She is a minister of God and seems very devoted to helping us get beyond our past and find our purpose. Again, this was my first experience with Iyanla, and I left feeling truly empowered.

John Holland

John is a gifted psychic medium who connects with the audience in a unique and compassionate way. He is very dedicated to what he does and delivers such healing messages from the spirit world to those that are grieving. It is so wonderful to see the audience reaction, knowing that their loved ones are still around and want to communicate with them. Tears of happiness pour from them and they’re surrounded with comfort and peace. It brought me to tears to watch. I’m finishing my clairvoyant training this fall, and I know how good it feels to be able to help people in this way. The healing goes both ways and it’s very rewarding.

Cheryl Richardson

I really connected with what Cheryl Richardson had to say, because I too, am the general manager of my universe. I am constantly busying myself and doing doing doing for everyone else, leaving what I want for last. Often, this time in the day never comes. Cheryl teaches us to make our own selves a top priority, which is something I don’t often do. My own family recognizes that in me, more than I do. This was a big wake up call for me. I need to get to know me! Wow! What a concept! I’m reading Cheryl’s book “Stand Up For Your Life” and I’ve scheduled a solo vision quest for myself in early August so I can get started getting to know me and my purpose in life. Thanks Cheryl!

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would also like to say a great big thanks to Louise Hay and all of the staff and help that made the Alaska cruise possible. I’ve had a very tough past year with one of my daughters, and this was just what the doctor ordered to nourish my soul. I feel that I can get back on track and move forward again. Thanks to all of you! Mary Remington

Islands and Beaches for Relaxation and Meditation

IslandsBeachesVisualizationMeditationIslands, Beaches & Visualization Meditations

by Curt Remington

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Oceans, Lakes, Beaches & Islands

Since ancient times, people have flocked to islands and beaches as a place to escape and relax. A beach combines the sun’s warm rays, the sand’s connection to the Earth, the soothing sound of waves and vast expanse of ocean, with its constantly changing surface and endless mysterious treasures. Islands, off on their own, surrounded by water, provide a sense of truly getting away from our daily routines.

Living just outside Bellingham Washington, my day-to-day errands regularly bring me within view of the San Juan Islands. Actually, I sometimes take detours to put them into view, so I can imagine myself out boating or kayaking, exploring and relaxing in the many coves and bays.

After my North Cascades trip, I decided that I needed more material for my book, Simple Meditation. I’m still working on a chapter covering walkabouts and vision quests, so I decided to get out and do more of the stuff you do on vision quests. What a great excuse for escaping to the islands for three days, huh?

islandCypress Island in the San Juan Islands, Washington

I debated loading my gear into a kayak and paddling to a quiet beach on Cypress Island. Upon further reflection, I concluded that with my Mirage 232 powerboat, I could get there faster, plug my laptop in, and get more writing done. Didn’t I mention in that earlier article, that you can be flexible on a vision quest? For some reason, my wife, Mary, questioned my new concept of a vision quest.

“You’re bringing food? A laptop? A powerboat? And your going to sleep in the boat instead of on hard ground?”

If I was going out to the San Juan Islands without her, I should be suffering. Actually, considering that she had to stay home and work, she was pretty supportive. The trip would largely be some quiet time to concentrate on writing. Besides, in some semblance of roughing it, I brought a bunch of old backpacking food for dinners.

With my gear loaded, including a whitewater kayak strapped on the back, I set out for Cypress during a small-craft advisory, driving into pounding seas for most of the twenty miles. The winds were 15-25 knots, so it wasn’t really that bad, just a tad on the rough side for a 23′ boat. At a place called Viti Rocks, strong tidal currents created a powerful rapids, with standing waves, whirlpools and water converging in weird and mysterious ways. As a fan of whitewater, I couldn’t resist stopping to feel the way the surges pushed the boat from side to side and tried to spin it around. In my little kayak, the surges and edd-lines would have been downright nerve-wracking.

After a little fun bobbing around in the rapids, I continued on to Cypress and tied to a moorage buoy. The island is secluded, with only 40 residents and 5,500 acres, most of which is steep evergreen forest. That night, the wind occasionally howled and swung the boat in a wide arc around the buoy, while small rolling waves rocked it. With doubled-up lines to a very solid buoy, I felt confident in my safety. The wind and waves was just enough to remind me that I wasn’t on dry land anymore.

During my second day at Cypress, I paddled my whitewater kayak to shore and hiked over eight miles, up and down forested hills, without encountering another person. Instead, I found a network of trails, small lakes and an old airstrip recently planted with seedlings. Returning to my boat, I found a sailboat moored next to me, with loud, fun-loving children. This just didn’t seem conducive to meditating and writing, so I moved to the north end of the island and moored next to a very quiet old sailboat. I spent most of the rest of the day writing in notebooks and on my laptop, occasionally stopping to watch a curious harbor seal or to listen to the waves lap at the hull. As evening approached, the clouds to the east cleared, making for spectacular views of Mt Baker and the Twin Sisters Mountains.boat

While working on the walkabout chapter for the book, I briefly meditated, tuning into the spirit world for advise on a visualization exercise about finding your life’s purpose. The following exercise is what came to me. When you get a chance, please give it a try, tuning into the symbolism of boatandislandwhatever you see. For example curves or logs in the path may represent obstacles in your life or a steep climb may represent working hard for your goals. If you see a cottage, it may represent that home and family are important, a skyscraper may represent work. If you gently use your intuition, without thinking too much, you may sense the significance of the images that come to you. Much of what clairvoyants do is interpreting the symbols that come to them.

Finding Your Path Visualization

Once you’re situated comfortably and are done grounding and running your energies, visualize yourself walking on a path which represents your life. You can pick the terrain, or just close your eyes and see what come to you. It might be woods or a meadow, along a beach or through a jungle. Soon, you come to an intersection, with three choices in front of you. Do you keep going straight, take the trail to the left or take the one to the right. Make a choice and follow that trail, taking note of what’s around you. Keep going until you feel you’ve reached what you came for. Where did the path take you? Is it a meaningful scene? Are there any buildings? Do you see people or animals? If so, why might they be there? Was the path straight or curved? Did it climb, descend, or was it flat?  How does this place relate to where you came from? What does it say about where you might like to go?  Use your intuition.  What is it telling you?

Sucia Island and Another Passengermary

Poking my head out the front hatch, I found another sunny day and an old two-masted wooden boat passing by, with eight rowers and a helmsman. After cold-cereal and coffee, I paddled to shore and found some comfortable driftwood on the beach to sit on while I meditated. The truly easiest form of meditation may be to sit on a beach and feel the sun on your face, smell the fresh breeze and listen to the waves as they roll up onto the sandy shore. The sensations are so captivating that it’s effortless to stay in the present moment. The San Juan Islands seem to have a special energy too, as if you’d feel it even without the sun, breeze and waves. I savored that spot until my conscience told me I should get back to the boat and start writing.

My wife called that morning, (yes, I brought a cell phone too) to let me know that she could sneak out of her clairvoyance class by early afternoon and join me for the last day in the islands. This was getting less and less like a vision quest experience, but I was getting a lot of writing done, and my wife definitely deserved some time off to go boating in the islands, besides I always enjoy her company.

I pulled into Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor and tied to a dock. Soon, she showed up with her gear, more water and a bag of better-tasting groceries. We motored out of the harbor and made our way towards Sucia. It’s a smaller island, at only 677 acres, but it is very popular with boaters, and for good reason. The island is a state park and has at least six scenic bays, depending on how you count the little ones. There are nine surrounding smaller islands, hiking trails and beautiful views in almost every direction. Arriving on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we found the dock space and moorage buoys in our usual hangout (Fossil Bay) to be taken. Instead, we moored in Echo Bay, the most open and busiest of Sucia’s anchorages.

Looking out at the mixture of sailboats and powerboats brought back memories of the last time we stayed at Echo Bay. That night was four years earlier, in a chartered 36′ tri-cabin yacht. It was the largest vessel I had ever captained, so I felt a bit of stress over the responsibility. That night, an un-forecast wind (or we missed that forecast) decided to kick up from the southeast, the one direction we had no protection from. Waves built up to the four foot range, and the yacht started swinging widely around its anchor. I watched in horror as the sailboat next to us started to do the same thing. Both boats would careen towards each other at the same time, then pull up short at the end of their anchor lines. What the hell should I do?  I debated on letting out anchor line, but then we could swing farther. If I shortened the anchor line, we could start dragging anchor. If I tried to move in the dark, we could hit another boat or not get the anchor set. As I tried to decide, I watched and the two boats always stopped their swing a boat’s length apart. That was a good sign, that the distance stayed consistent. I decided not to complicate matters by messing with an anchor that seemed to be doing its job. Shortly after that, a knot pulled loose and our dinghy blew away. I didn’t have to debate what to do about that one. It was on its own until morning.

birdA friend, that had been anchored near us, was having even worse luck. His 38′ yacht started dragging anchor until he did run into another boat. At that point, he had no choice but to navigate in the dark between the other swinging yachts and try to reset his anchor. In the process, he accidentally ran over and cut a sailboat’s anchor line. The other boat managed to tie to his stern, while my friend got his anchor reset. I noticed a couple other yachts also scrambling through the dark to get their anchors reset. Echo Bay was quite exciting that night.

By morning, the bay returned to a peaceful calm. I started scanning with binoculars and noticed another dinghy towing ours across the bay. We flagged them down and got the dinghy back intact.

After reminiscing about our previous thrilling Echo Bay experience, I paddled to shore and watched a great blue heron fishing in the shallows along the beach. Echo Bay stayed calm that night, so  we had a peaceful sleep. The next morning, we motored over to Fossil Bay and found space at the dock. Anxious to stretch our legs, we set out on one of our favorite island hikes, a loop trail with clifftop views overlooking Fossil Bay, other nearby islands, Mt Baker and distant Canadian Mountains.  Back at the boat, we had lunch and set out to return to Bellingham, very grateful that the San Juan Island are so close to home.beach

You don’t have to live near the San Juan Islands to enjoy beaches and islands. Beaches and islands almost anywhere are a great escape and wonderful place to rejuvenate yourself. In Minnesota, the islands of the St Croix River were among our favorite haunts, and the local county park beach was a great way to spend the day. As you may have noted in my photo gallery, we’ve also enjoyed beautiful islands and beaches in other parts of the world, like the Mediterranean last summer.

Sierra Trading Post