Spring Paddling in the Pacific Northwest with Dean Burke
By and large, life in the PNW is fairly temperate. The book-ends of annual temperatures for us span from about 30 degrees Fahrenheit to the mid 80’s. Maybe a week or two in winter or summer where it dips lower or surges higher, but for a northern latitude, we certainly lack the extremes of say Minnesota whose temps will swing more than 130 degrees inside of 6 months. What we lack in a wide temperature range, we make up for in a seasonal faucet drip of low clouds and endless drizzle, combined with the occasional winter wind storm that keeps you awake in bed all night. Don’t ask us about summers though. That part is secret. We don’t want too many to know how good our summers really are.
We share the salt water of the Salish Sea which is fed in from the Pacific via the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Top to bottom, the Salish about 300 straight miles. If you measure it by coastline, it is thousands of miles. I wouldn’t know where to begin to find out. Our tidal exchanges run upwards of 17 feet inside of 6 hours on the big days - that can make for some pretty interesting currents in some spots. Water temp hovers in the 47 – 53 range year-round.
Wildlife is a big part of the experience here too. Whales – including orcas among many others – sea lions, porpoise and tidal life. The connection to nature and the water goes back millennia around here. We feel it every time we paddle.
Racing is part of our fabric too. But for me and my friends, I think adventure and experience is probably the more tested component. We go to the sea to find ourselves and to make eye contact with our limits in ways that makes us more human and keeps us balanced. I wouldn’t mind a few warmer days every now and then, but this is home. I’d still return here every time.