Orcas Island

Mt. Constitution
the highest point in the San Juan Islands.

To round off the week of outdoor adventure I headed north to the San Juan Islands. I am constantly reminding myself just how incredible it is that I live near so many amazing natural wonders. And sometimes that can create havoc when attempting to hammer out some plans. I had so many ideas on where to go and what to do but after hours of research I came upon an article that mentioned Moran State Park. Deciding on Moran was easy. Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and camping all rolled into one trip.

But before I could get into Island mode I had to actually get to the Island first. It’s an hour long ferry ride from Anacortes to Orcas Island. The ferry ride is an added bonus. I’d imagine that taking it every day might become arduous task but as an infrequent rider I enjoy the mellow motion as the ferry sloshes through the water while taking in the island views. I spent the first day getting to know the island and driving to the top of Mt. Constitution, a peak that can driven to as well as hiked. I couldn’t just drive to it, I had to hike it as well.

Mt. Constitution from Cascade Lake Trail Head

After hiking up most of the way and riding the last half mile up I was beyond excited to feel the fresh air flow through my helmet as I jammed through the forest. The sense of accomplishment makes the ride that much sweeter as you’re weaving through the forest, dodging logs and kamikaze tree limbs. Maintaining that constant pedal and brake work to keep things smooth.

I rested on the summit for a few minutes and drank some water as I looked over the bike to make sure everything was okay. I talked with a very nice lady who was on vacation from Pennsylvania and she was headed to the Cascades. From the San Juan’s to the North Cascades is an impressive feat, I hope she got to see everything she had hoped to! As I was making some final adjustments a couple kids started chucking fruit off the tower so I decided it was time to go.

The Dilemma

As I strapped on the helmet and put on my gloves I got the nervous jitters, my heart started racing, and my eyes became laser focused on the trail as a crowd watched me descend. I felt the adrenaline at full throttle. It wasn’t 15 seconds after descending from Mt. Constitution that I instantly blew out my rear tire while pivoting off a tree root and getting a little bit of air. It was a really devastating blow after the effort I exerted to get to this point. The problem was that I went into this with the tools for the job to make a repair but ignorant enough to make a relatively routine task difficult.

The Break Down

It took over an hour and the help of some kind trail friends to bring my downhill dream back into focus. I learned some valuable lessons like how to use my bike pump. I haven’t changed a bike tire since I was a kid and I hadn’t done so on a mountain bike with full suspension and several more gears than I was use to. But I had trouble with my pump. I had stopped four mountain bikers who looked the part to assist in giving me some air for my tire. They did give me air, told me my pump sucked and I got ripped off and wished me luck. I am grateful for those dudes but I’d like to share with them that the pump is simple and works fine. My dad helped me on this one. I didn’t even know he cycled.

I stopped for a bit to take in Mountain Lake, which I had kayaked first thing in the morning when the waters were calm and glass like. Once I arrived at the other end of the Lake the winds really started picking up. I immediately felt the weather change and started to head back when it started to drizzle and the water became choppy. I worked much harder getting back than when I started but I liked the early morning work out.

This trip was really designed for rest and relaxation. I had objectives I wanted to complete like getting out on the water and getting a hike in. But I also spent hours in my tent watching scary movies that I had downloaded from Netflix while the rain constantly pelted my tent. I forgot my cooking fuel so I ate pizza at the local mart. I followed up the next morning with a breakfast burrito from the same locale. I drove around the island exploring. I’ll happily walk 10 miles with a fully loaded pack with no amenities and enjoy myself fully. But this wasn’t one of those trips and I can enjoy it just as much. At the end of the day this was my view and it’s worthy of melting away all of life’s problems, at least temporarily.

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