The whole SUP exploration came to me about five years ago. My first trip on a standup paddle board was down the Thompson River in the interior of British Columbia, Canada for a three day whitewater adventure with two of my best buds. It took my life in a whole new direction for exploring. Now, instead of carrying a ton of gear on our backs and hiking up into the mountains for climbing, skiing, and mountaineering, we could put a ton of gear on our standup paddle boards and challenge a wild new degree of whitewater, surf, and rock & rollin’ good times as we accessed remote coastlines and mountain ranges.
A very special journey unfolded this summer, one that has been a dream of mine for the last few years. It came about after a surf trip to a special place called La Push on the Olympic Peninsula, the large arm of land in western Washington. The Pacific Ocean borders the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north, and the Hood Canal on the east. Cape Alava is the westernmost point of the peninsula and of the contiguous United States, and Cape Flattery, a remarkable place at the most northwestern point of the peninsula. Comprising about 3600 square miles, the Olympic Peninsula contains many of the last unexplored places in the contiguous United States.
I’ve stared over at the Olympic Mountains and its coast for the last ten years, from Vancouver Island while in Victoria visiting my wife’s family, or when on surf trips to the west coast of the island. This area has been a total mystery to me until a good friend mentioned this cool place called La Push and Cape Flattery, remote spots with epic surf and amazing diverse scenery different from the coast of Vancouver Island. It had sat in my mind for years, dreaming of getting there one day. Now the day was here, after a small taste of the surf at La Push.
Now we were heading out on a multi-day SUP/Surf exploration of all these beautiful places I’d been told about and seen from a distance. Paddling the coastline, SUP surfing towards and amongst caves, spires, remote beaches, and Islands; getting immersed in one of the coolest coastlines I’ve ever seen in the world.
The Journey hooked in three of my best buddies known as “The Motley Crew”. Todd Lawson (water spider), Trevor McDonald (Trevy 5 plus), Johnny Burak (Short Story Long) and myself, Jimmy Martinello (Crouching Tiger Hidden Cupcake). Expeditions with this kind of exploring, strong winds, and big Pacific Ocean storms and waves, we can rely on each other if sh*! hits the fan. Together I felt our crew could persevere with our combined 15 years of experience exploring the world, separately and together, on expeditions like this one.
We paddled four days north from La Push up to Cape Flattery and around to Nia Bay, working with winds blowing north at that time of the year, taking in every moment of this surreal coastline.
The misty coastline unveiled as we set off from La Push, geared up with food and supplies for a week of following the coastline, paddling through the mystery spires and islands and camping on beautiful white sandy beaches.
The ocean treated us well, guiding our path, whales breaching on each side of our boards. We surfed the coastline and tried to take it all in, the unique landscapes in front of us. Going through archways, paddle stroke after paddle stroke through caves out on Cape Flattery, looking down at an abundance of fish and beautiful kelp beds, waterfalls cascading out of the tropical rainforest out into the ocean. It was truly a place of unbelievable mystery that not only delivered all the dreams that I thought and wondered about, it was so much more and for sure it will have us coming back one day soon.
"The misty coastline unveiled as we set off from La Push, following the coastline, paddling through the mystery spires and islands and camping on beautiful white sandy beaches."