Lopez Island Magic

Saturday afternoon I packed up my bike and took a ferry to Lopez Island. It was as spontaneous as it gets, so when I stepped off the boat at around 7pm, I had no map, no reservations, and 9 bucks. I love this kind of stuff.

After riding for a couple hours, these were the things that stuck out:

1) Light, sweet, clean air.

2) Silence- I heard the sound of an entire field of cows chewing grass.

3) Brilliant views of the San Juan islands and old forests and endless fields of wildflowers.

4) No neighborhoods. Just neighbors. Every car that passed, without exception, every driver waved. No joke.

i loooove my bike

It was almost 9pm and I still needed to find a place to sleep. I took a road next to a forest, and not too far into the woods i saw a couple cliffs up near the tree tops, maybe 80-100 feet high. The top looked like it might flatten out a bit, so I stashed my bike, took my bag and went to get a better look. There were some steep little deer trails that I took to the rocky area, where the real climbing started. There was a rock wall about 35-45 feet high, and as vertical as anything I’ve ever attempted to climb without a harness. At this point I knew I wouldn’t have enough daylight to go back for the tent, so I was thankful to find a relatively easy route up. There were rocks to grab onto so I wasn’t really freaked out, but still- it was a good challenge to climb this thing.

a long way up

When I made it to the top I was completely stoked. It was a conquest with an unbelievable reward. There were a few tiers of long, flat rocks, about 6 feet wide, that were covered in 8 inches of soft, completely dry yellow moss. I picked a ledge that was out of view from the road. It was a scene from a fairy tale. Below me there was a giant field of white and yellow flowers, then a rolling forest hill with beach cove bookends, then the water, the islands, and a pale orange sky. I bet natives camped here. This was a powerful place.

south view from camp

Birds were singing songs I’d never heard. Frogs joined in as the sun went down. Then the moon set, the stars came out, the frogs went silent again, and the only sound came from a flock of birds that had spread out throughout the forest. They sang like a chorus, in harmony with note to note precision. The song sounded like a cross between rippling water and a ufo shooting lasers. Trippy.

The whole scene was so amazing that I didn’t want to sleep. I watched the Big Dipper slowly work its way around the North Star. I heard a pod of breaching orca whales, splashing their way down the west coast of the island. This night was sacred and profound. Maybe I should just leave it at that.

I spent Sunday wandering around the island, exploring and writing and picking up rocks on the beach. I was completely lost until just before my ferry ride back. I didn’t have a clue where I was. But of course the road showed up, just in time to lead me back home. How could it not? If there was any lesson here, it was this: fate will take care of you every chance it gets. Not only will it take care of you, it will enchant you- sometimes with stuff like the road back home, and other times with starlight and moss and clifftop orca symphonies.


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2 responses to “Lopez Island Magic

  1. Becki

    Lopez is a magical place, I guess there’s no other way of putting it. I loved your description of the sights and sounds that made your stealth camp so memorable. When we get off the ferry it’s just like a sigh of the heart – “home!”

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