Hope Island

100_4161Hope Island State Park is a 106-acre marine camping park on the western side of the state in Mason County, Puget Sound. This island is reachable only by boat. Covered with old-growth forests and saltwater marshes, the park features a beach 1.5 miles long, and two miles of hiking trail attract boaters to this small, quiet island.

We have noticed improvements during the 15 years we have visited the island. By way of background, Hope Island was a replacement for a park which had been leased from an Indian tribe. When the lease could not be renewed,  the facility at Hope Island was established.  Later, sand was deposited near pay stations and canoe landings to make the rest rooms accessible. Hope Island is part of a network of landings that allow paddlers to follow a water trail from Olympia to Juno Alaska. At one time you could rent the care taker’s cabin, and this may still be possible in fall and winter months, but one of the improvements is the care taker, who is stationed on the island 24 hours a day and 7 days a week during the spring and summer.

For the first time in our recollection, the camp sites on the island filled in August of 2014 and this appreciation for the park has freed budget for clearing trails and meadows and for enforcing the no dog rule. Hope Island is to become a wild life preserve, and we are happy to report that loons again call for the fun of it. Porcupines “sing”  at night and there are owls as well as eagles. A new born seal pub visited our sail boat and sent us scrambling for a camera. It was so tiny and so shy. We could not film it.

In the early years of the park up to 3 vessels could tie to a buoy. This is no longer allowed. Neither are large vessels. The bottom around the island is suitable for anchoring and we viewed several of the larger boats do so. We also observed two boats use the mooring balls for lunch. The rules allow for that, at no cost, from morning to 1 pm, but at 1 pm, you are supposed to drop the ball or pay. This means a trip to shore to pick up and fill out a form and pay, if you haven’t purchased a year long pass.

One improvement not yet implemented is registering for the mooring ball via cell phone, radio or an app. We suggested this to the care taker when she came by. Murrelet carries a roll up dinghy and we had not deployed it prior to her visit. The care taker handled the paper work for us, so that we need not hurry with launching the tender. This was something new and was greatly appreciated. During prior visits, care takers required actual landings for registration.

On the island the next day, signs involving the apple orchard were found dangling from several trees. The signs informed visitors that deer get the runs from eating apples that are not yet ripe and this discomfort prevents them from eating enough grass to build up fat for the winter. There were plenty of apples for humans.

At 1600 on the first day of our visit, a day visitor abandoned one of the buoys to the delight of three young adventurers in a 20 foot sailboat. The three teens had been circling the island. Once secured, camping gear was removed from the boat and rowed ashore. The ranger told us they had found a space for their tent on the other side of the island and had let the boat hang all night. This is how the park is intended to be used.

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