Cape Flattery, as I have told many of my students through the years, is a great place to kayak. It is not, however, a great place to learn to kayak.
That's not to say there isn't plenty to learn from paddling the waters at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca; there is. Every time you get in your kayak should be a learning experience. It's just that, if you learn too much, in a place as wild and unforgiving as the Cape, the consequences can be dire.
With that said, I am looking forward to paddling there again in June. We had a planning meeting last night in Olympia for the Ikkatsu Expedition, mostly dealing with the actual itinerary, and just talking about the time we'll be spending at the Cape got me pumped. With a few exceptions (the Brooks Peninsula, parts of the south coast of Newfoundland), Cape Flattery is the most pristine, most primal, paddling venue I've ever been to. All the changes that have come down in the centuries since it was first placed on the charts, all the war and peace, the fashion and politics, all of the vagaries of the human condition: it all amounts to nothing, as far as this place is concerned.
The waves still find their way to the shore, the eagle and the cormorants still wheel in the windy sky and the rocks still stand like sentinels at some remote outpost on some different planet. Shorebirds chirp and squawk on mussel-encrusted rocks, caves still yawn darkly at the gathering clouds and the trees rise so tall and so fast, you can almost hear them growing.
And the water? The currents that mix at the entrance to the straits are confused, boiling and prone to fury. Less so in the summer, but only just. Water rushes between Tatoosh Island and the mainland, and hidden rocks and giant sunkers explode in the waves one moment, and are lost from view in the next. To paddle here is to use all your senses, and is always a lesson in respect for those forces that are so much greater than human endeavor.
I can't wait to get back.