Winters in the Pacific Northwest tend to drag on at times. It’s not the cold or the rain. It’s the constant grey skies that start to wear on you. So when I saw a weekend forecast that called for blue skies and warm weather, I decided it was time to make an early trip to the San Juan Islands.
With two possible days of sunshine, camping out was going to be a no-brainer. I didn’t need to make any reservations, but I did want to get on an early ferry. So with bags packed the night before, I headed out the door and caught the early morning Anacortes ferry to Friday Harbor.
Camping options on San Juan Island are a little limited. But since it was still winter, I didn’t have a problem getting a choice spot at the San Juan Co. Park. Above is a view from the park’s coast, looking back at the grassy commons area.
With a little time to kill, I wandered around the park. Here’s part of the short trail leading down the coast.
A large tree at the end of the trail appears to be split in half. However, it is being held together with steel wires.
With my assessment of the park complete and my camp set, it was time to hop in the car and check out some of the island.
First up was the famous little lighthouse at Lime Kiln State Park.
Did you know, built in 1914, this was the last major lighthouse established in Washington?
Close up of the oxidized top.
When you’re done checking out the lighthouse, follow the hiking trail north and you will end up at the refurbished lime kiln. If you are interested in the history of the kiln, there are stairs that lead down to the front of it, where you will find a few more informational placards.
Further up the trail and just out of park boundaries is a second lime kiln. Unlike the one within the park, this one is slowly being reclaimed by mother earth. I’d recommend checking it out. It provides an interesting comparison of man’s effort to maintain our creations over time.
Making note of the time till sunset, I went back to the car and set out to see as much of San Juan Is as I could while it was still light out.
Just a mile or so down the road is a beautiful little spot called Haro Point. I was fascinated with the tiny little zig-zagging fences that trailed their way along the coast. I wonder how this shoot will look in the summer with the green grass.
Back in the car, I made plans to head towards Cattle Point. I chose as much of a costal route as possible in hopes of getting some interesting views.
One of those stops was at False Bay. The view of the bay wasn’t all that photogenic. However I loved the view of this barn across the street.
Over a few hills and I was finally at Cattle Point. I pulled off at the first spot and made my way down to the edge of the coast.
At times, the trail along the coast gets pretty close to the edge. And in some places has fallen into the sea. I overheard one couple talking about a friend who’s dog had fallen off the edge and perished into the sea. Meanwhile their dog was also running around off lead. Go figure.
Grassy hills, puffy clouds and an abandoned lighthouse.
A view down to the water’s edge from atop the cliff trail.
It’s a shame this lighthouse is currently abandoned. It would make for some beautiful imagery if they ever resuscitated it.
There is still a solar panel and a light at the top. I’m guessing it at least illuminates after dark like a typical channel marker.
Edging around the cape, looking back at the the lighthouse.
Small zig-zag fences span the cape’s edge. Asking visitors to please stay off the dunes.
And that’s it for the Cattle Point Lighthouse. Looking back, I think I took a little too many photos of it. However, if they ever fix it up, I’ll be sure to take a ton more.
My exploration lead me around the inside of the cape to the backside of the San Juan Island National Historic Park.
Bald eagles, everywhere.
There were quite a few waterfowl relaxing in the calm waters. However, this Bufflehead was as close as I could get before any of them would fly off.
Feeling like I had discovered enough of Cattle Point, it was time to start heading back towards Lime Kiln.
Along the way I ran into a group of Columbia Blacktail Deer grazing on the hillside.
This fawn wasn’t sure what I was up to. Better to go with the group and not get caught alone. It gives me the eye as it makes it’s way back up the hill.
Looking back south, the deer were everywhere.
A deer pauses to check me out. Actually, they didn’t care about me. I had to call to them so they would look at me. Otherwise they would be content ignoring me and stuffing their faces.
Crossing over top of me to get back with the group.
After all of my explorations, it was decided that the Lime Kiln Lighthouse would be the best place for the sunset photo. Thankfully I had done all my research earlier in the day so I knew the exact place I wanted to shoot from.
What was entertaining to me was I was not the only one who thought of it. There was already another couple setting up their tripod in the same area I wanted too. Thankfully there was plenty of room out on the rocks so we could both post up exactly where we wanted.
While their company was most welcome and made for pleasant conversation while we waited. The incoming clouds had another plan for us.
We both waited it out, hoping for a break at the last minute. Unfortunately it looked like the clouds would eventually swallow the sun and steal any warming lights entirely.
Happy with my earlier photos, I packed up my gear, said my goodbyes and headed back to the camp before things got too dark.
The next day things took a turn for the overcast. So Instead of hunting photos I spent my time exploring more of the island and doing a bit of geocaching in the process.
While the clouds might of canceled my second day of photos, I now have a better idea of where I want to go when I come back in early June. Hopefully next time I can see some Orcas and get a better shot at a lighthouse sunset.
If you want to do some camping at San Juan County Park, make sure you book in advance. Space is limited and spots fill up months in advance! Check out their website here.