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San Juan Islands: Beat the Crowds With an Autumn Kayak Adventure 

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s is the case with most scenic destinations in the Northwest, lifelong kayaker Geoff Frank says, "Post Labor Day, the tourist crowds in the San Juans dissipate and the Islands are much more enjoyable."

Frank has guided personal and professional trips in Puget Sound for decades, noting the access and views of Washington's rocky archipelago can't be beat for a multi-day excursion within a day's driving distance of Bend.

Ferries transport mainland passengers to four of the 172 named islands and reefs in the chain. During most excursions, Frank opts to depart from Washington Park to Orcas and from there, island hop. Sucia and Patos islands are some of his favorite spots.

Frank cautions water enthusiasts to consider the skills needed before embarking on a multi-day kayaking journey. Necessary knowledge includes nautical navigation including reading maps and charts (currents, tides and wind), following a bearing, keeping close track of weather fluctuations, comfort paddling on the open sea, being able to self rescue in a worst-case scenario and fitness level.

If you haven't the time to plan a paddle trip in the San Juans this fall, start planning now for next year.

Check out the website for itinerary details and packing lists, or, sign up for one of Tumalo Creek's four and five-day guided tours, where gourmet meals are provided and trusted veterans handle logistics and safety.

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