SUP: A Simple Paddle

When asked, ‘What did you do today,” most people might reply, “I went for a really nice paddle.”

End of story, and not bad.

This is not the way our friend Steve will reply.  Steve, and his wife, Laurie, not only seem to enjoy 23.5  hours of each 24 hour day, but they do it with incredible gusto.

Tongue in cheek, a little, Steve describes an average day at their home in Olympia, WA like this:

olympicsWe awoke in the luxurious Chateau Staurie (Steve and Laurie’s home) overlooking the calm quiet waters of the bay covered in the usual overnight blanket of low clouds. Views of the Olympics across the water will have to wait a few hours until the clouds burn clear. After a scrumptious breakfast including fresh local raspberries and blueberries from the farmers’ market and a few household chores like feeding the birds and watering the beautiful flowers on the deck over the sound, we gather our paddles and head down the steep path through the firs to the water. firs

At the bottom it is high tide so it is only a short walk with our SUP`s to the cool clear water of Totten Inlet. Totten means “calm” and today it lives up to its name. Glassy AM waters reflect the sky now mottled with breaking morning clouds and totally blue sky. Below the glassy surface swim big and small clear moon jellies and a few of  the large red Lions Mane jellies (the largest species of Jelly Fish) with their 12+ long strands of stingers. In the distance Olympic peaks are showing through the now clearing skies. In a bit under 20 minutes we have crossed the 3/4 mile inlet and now paddle north along the shore to the mouth of Little Skookum Inlet.



Today will be a special day. We will get to visit Little Skookum Inlet. It is rarely visited (the closest public launch is 4-5 miles away) and paddling in is tide dependent. Today is perfect. The high tide of 12 feet when we get there will cover the shallow shoals exposed at lower tides.  The current generated when 12 feet of water exits the bathtub of the beautiful narrow winding section of the inlet in just 6 hours as the tide ebbs will treat us to a downtider when we leave.

Skookum shellfish

Skookum shellfish

On the opposite shore we see the only power boat we will see all day. It’s  an oyster harvesting workboat and the workers bringing in Totten’s bountiful shellfish harvest for Taylor Shellfish Company. We will see few people today. The workers, a man mowing his lawn, a couple on the deck of their attractive shore side home and a pretty young woman in a bikini sunbathing on her deck who gets up as we go by (had to throw something special in there to entice the guys ).

As we wind our way through the narrow  fir and cedar lined Little Skookum we are treated to the loud trill and loping flight pattern of several Kingfishers, a small gaggle of geese flying over and landing on the shore, the stately beauty of a bald eagle which flies over and lands in a large Douglas Fir sending out its distinctive call, many ducks and the usual gulls. Cormorants hold vigil on the poles set up for commercial boats, occasionally starting their flight by the dive splash and fly technique that is uniquely theirs. As we reach the end of the narrow section and the big shallow bay at the end of the inlet now covered wit 9 feet of water, but soon to be an empty mud pit.bird

The ebb current is growing strong enough that we can feel it slowing our progress–time to turn back and let it help us paddle. Unfortunately the clear skies brought a NNE wind which funnels in to Skookum inlet as the water funnels out. We don’t get a full out sleigh-ride,, but are only slowed a little until Skookum opens up before dumping in to Totten Inlet.

Mount Rainier watching over Totten Inlet

Mount Rainier watching over Totten Inlet

Here views of the giant Mt. Rainier in the distance reward our extra effort.  After we turn in to Totten Inlet and head south to our beach, the wind is no longer an obstacle. At first it hits us on the quarter before pushing us the last mile. 3+ hours after starting we return to our beach in the warm sun. It feels warmer than the mid 70`s that it is on our protected beach covered in a depp layer of warmth soaking gravel. We rinse and store or boards, climb back up the trail to the house and a well deserved and yummy Linner. That’s our lunch/dinner which includes freshly picked salad from the garden on the deck at Chateau Staurie.


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