1 Mile at Larabee State Park/Wildcat Cove
DATE OF SWIM: 7/12/20
A sunny, low visibility swim along rocky coastline, where I met friendly local swimmers, swam around two boulders protruding from the sea, and saw a family of seals!
Friendly Swim Communities Everywhere!
I've visited Bellingham many times now from Seattle as it's only 1.5 hours away. Bellingham is a small coastal town, with endless opportunity for and accessibility to outdoor activities. If you live in Bellingham, it's safe to probably say you love the outdoors. I've wanted to swim for a while now in Bellingham, and I finally made it happen, thanks to the welcoming swim community there!
I planned the trip by first reaching out to the Bellingham Open Water Swimming group on Facebook. A few very kind locals contacted me via Messenger after I expressed I'd love to swim with people when visiting. We set a time, and I set off from Seattle. Ironically, the open water swimming community in Bellingham is smaller than the community in Seattle, but the swimming may be even MORE beautiful.
I have to say, one of the reasons why I love swimming is the welcoming, adventurous community. I've found that swimmers around the globe share these characteristics. If you're a swimmer, we'll likely get along!
Out to Chuckanut Drive
The locals I touched base with suggested we meet at the Larabee Boat Ramp/Wildcat Cove in Larabee State Park. The drive out to Larabee State Park is gorgeous - through farmland, mountains and expansive coastal views out to the San Juans along winding Chuckanut Drive. Stopping in Bow Edison (Terramar Brewery is my new favorite) is a must-do. Bow Edison is a cute little farming town with an art gallery, a delicious bakery (Tweets) and a few restaurants.
A Sunny Swim and a Family of Seals
The local swimmers I'd connected with met me at the Larabee State Park Boat ramp and we suited up, collectively deciding to wear wetsuits. I don't have a way to measure temperature on my swims, but I guessed (and the locals confirmed) that it likely was a bit colder than Seattle water since we were further north. We talked about how there were no lions mane jellyfish in the water - this was a huge relief from the regular encounter with lions manes in Seattle (one time I saw 5 on a single swim).
The group set off for their regular swim - a swim around a far off boulder protruding from the sea, along rocky coastline dotted with madrona trees. The locals that I swam with were extremely helpful, guiding me along the way as they instructed me to swim by the two boulders and stopping a few times to check to make sure I was feeling good while swimming.
We eventually swam to our final destination through the murky water - a large boulder sticking out from the sea covered in barnacles. I swam out to stand on it and the locals I was with told me it's where seals normally bask in the sun. I hesitated, unsure if I wanted to potentially disturb any seals. Apparently they normally rested on the other side from where I got out to stand, so I decided it was okay to continue.
As soon as I stood on the rock, five seals popped their heads out of the water close by us. It was the largest number of seals I'd ever seen at one time! A family of seals!
Dreams of Rocky Coastline
We headed back towards the boat ramp after reaching the large boulder, and swam against a strong current. I definitely felt like the swims in Bellingham are likely more difficult than those in Seattle. The current felt powerful and wild. The water and rocky coastline reminded me of swimming Sandycove Island or in Maine as a child, and like I was really truly experiencing "wild swimming." I loved every moment of it! I imagined what it would be like to live here and swim this type of terrain on a regular basis.
Once we got back to the boat ramp, we chatted and shared a delicious treat made kindly by one of the swimmers. We talked of local legend about the rock we swam to, living in Bellingham, and the swim community there.
This swim was truly amazing, and the community so welcoming and kind. Thank you Bellingham Open Water Swimmers for welcoming me (with socially distant) arms! I can't wait to join you all again!