Experience Puget Sound Water Sports and Adventures
Washington State, in all its glory, is blessed with rivers that flow from the Cascade Range into hundreds of lakes before meeting the Salish Sea. This gift is keenly felt by Snohomish County locals who enjoy all that the Puget Sound water sports have to offer: swim, raft, fish, and propel across the waters on kite boards, jet skis, boats and tubes. The sunny and warm seasons of the Pacific Northwest are meant to be experienced on the water.
Since the turn of the last century, fishermen have angled for steelhead with hand-tied flies, prompting famed Western author Zane Grey, to immortalize the crystal clear waters and line-busting steelhead of Deer Creek in 1918. Fishermen still seek the tributary creeks of Cicero, Hazel, Chinook, The Run, Fortson, C-Post, and Deer Creek. They troll and plunk for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout in the Sauk River upstream of Darrington, and in the Skykomish.
Sauk River is Washington’s best kept whitewater rafting secret.
Jerry Michalec with North Cascades River Expeditions says the Sauk River is Washington’s best kept whitewater rafting secret. A US Wild and Scenic river, the Sauk is eight miles of whitewater. South of Darrington, when the water reaches Clear Creek, an emerald pool of calm, clear water beckons the very pool where Brian Beaumont’s young children would scoot out onto a fallen log hovering above the water and “jump off into this deep, emerald swimming hole. It’s one of those things that I think every kid in their lifetime should do,” Beaumont said.
For another of Michalec’s regular customers, Jim Cortney, “The rapids and the whitewater are secondary. I really like getting out into the wild,” he said. “When you raft a wild and scenic river,” he said, “you get into the rugged wild of the Cascades that can’t be reached by hiking, horseback riding, or even helicopter.”
In the heat of summer, the lowland rivers and creeks draw families and teens to their shores. Sue Frause fondly recalls growing up a half century ago on the Stilly, as the locals call the river. “It was the happening place – our little Waikiki. We would bring lunch…work on our tan…we were really lucky to have it. The Stilly was kind of a big deal to us.” The river shares its name with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, who today hold the Festival of the River, while the town’s residents send rubber duckies down river in The Great Stilly Duck Dash.
Snohomish County is home to 400 lakes.
Snohomish County is also home to 400 lakes, the majority of which are small and in the Cascade mountains. In the populated lowlands there are 60 lakes for swimming, Stand Up Paddle-board yoga, motor boats, and jet skies. Some, like Lake Stevens, which has its own rowing club, are fairly heavily populated and some, like Lake Crabapple in the Seven Lakes area, are surrounded by forests and cabins.
Julia Francis got into competitive rowing in her 40s and now rows with the Lake Stevens Rowing Club. “At 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, the lake is flat as can be and there are eagles flying over head,” she said. “It’s one of the most amazing sports in that it gives you this unbelievable amount of fitness with the beauty of the lake.”
Crabbing, fishing, shrimping, beach combing, diving, boating, and kiteboarding provide the quintessential and Instagrammable Pacific Northwest experience.
Then there’s the glorious Salish Sea. Crabbing, fishing, shrimping, beach combing, diving, boating, and kiteboarding provide the quintessential and Instagrammable Pacific Northwest experience. John Lundin, owner of Bluewater Organic Distilling at the Port of Everett and proud owner and craftsman of a 45’ custom aluminum cutter rig sailboat, the S.V. Wolf, said Port Gardner is the perfect “wind hole” for sport sailing. He completed his custom build just in time to spend the “best summer of my life” cruising between Everett, the San Juan Islands, and Vancouver Island.
Photo credits: Photo courtesy of Port of Everett
“We have some of the best cruising in the world right here,” Lundin said, adding he can be in the San Juans easily within eight hours of leaving Everett, and to Victoria in another hour or two.
Also at the Port of Everett, Jetty Island provides the area’s longest sandy beach and a wildlife refuge for as many as 45 bird species. Families take the city’s ferry during the summer-long Jetty Island Days. Kite boarders long ago discovered Jetty Island’s wide, shallow-water beach as ideal for kite board training. With its steady and predictable afternoon breezes from April to September, it’s ideal for beginners and seasoned vets alike.
Most new kiteboarders become converts to the sport.
Urban Surf Kiteboarding teaches would-be kiteboarders at Jetty Island. “It brings them out of their comfort zone,” said owner Jeffro Rothenberg, adding most new kiteboarders become converts to the sport. “We call it the Kite Smile after their first lesson. Their smile looks like the kite upside down.”
Want to go fishing or crabbing in the Salish Sea? Many fishermen cast a line from shore for steelhead. Kayak Point, Everett, Mukilteo and Edmonds all have piers for fishing and dropping crab pots. Edmonds is also blessed with more than two miles of walkable shoreline, an underwater sanctuary and dive park, a ferry landing, and a marina.
Puget Sound Express operates whale watching tours out of Edmonds. And several fishing charter operations will gladly give you a lift across Puget Sound. If you want to get out on the water frequently, but don’t want the hassle of boat ownership, there’s even an option for that. Freedom Boat Club out of Edmonds lets its trained members use an entire fleet of boats anytime they want.
Whatever kind of recreation you seek, the glacier fed fresh and salt waters of Snohomish County offer plenty of options.
BY ELLEN HIATT
Photo credit: banner image courtesy of Port of Everett
Earth Day 2020: Gifts of Water, Giving Back
WELCOME Magazine contributing writer Ellen Hiatt revisits “Water Sports From Sunrise to Sunset,” as the world celebrates Earth Day 2020 throughout April.
“Why is it that the things that are most essential, like clean air and water, are the things we think about the least?”
BY ELLEN HIATT
If ever there was a place to witness the devastation caused by climate change and human impact, it’s in our waters: algae blooms on lakes caused by increased nitrogen loads of fertilizers and septic systems; acidification of our oceans impacting the exoskeletons of crabs; and increased temperatures of our rivers altering the reproduction cycle of salmon.
“Water is an essential ingredient for life. In Snohomish County, water is our essential ingredient for a very good life,” explains Sarah Brown, Chair of the Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee. “The need for water is something that unites all humanity. In Snohomish County, our love of water unites us all.”
So much of what we celebrate in Snohomish County centers around water — whether it’s the rivers that flow from the mountain tops into our lakes, or the salt water of the Salish Sea that gives life and joy to our community. This month of Earth Day celebrations calls on us all to think about the gifts of water and how we give back.
“Puget Sound is an unparalleled natural resource that abounds in beauty, wildlife, food, and recreation. Managed well, it will continue for many generations. Unfortunately, we’re at a tipping point where poor management will bring our Eden to an end.
Learn more about how you can prevent pollution and improve water quality.