Back in April, when life was hectic and exhausting, Alpine Trails Book Club provided the perfect escape for me in the form of a weekend spent camping on San Juan Island. Our April book selection had been The Light Between Oceans, a heartbreaking and beautiful tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find an infant washed up on their remote island off the coast of Australia, then struggle with the fallout of their unofficial adoption of the girl. Obviously after reading of life on a remote and rugged island whose only structure was the light, we couldn’t leave the island without a hike to one of two lighthouses on San Juan.
Rather coincidentally, our destination was Lime Kiln State Park - the second Lime Kiln hike for the group in a row. Similar to the Lime Kiln trail we visited in March situated in the Central Cascades near the Stillaguamish River, there were also major lime operations surrounding the Lime Kiln light on the west side of San Juan Island. The lime quarries on San Juan Island seemed to leave much more of a mark on the surrounding landscape than those we visited in March, and after some quick research, I learned that up until the 1920s, the island was host to the largest lime operation in the state. It’s bizarre to think that a place that’s now valued primarily for is scenic and rugged landscape was once primarily used for such an industrial purpose.
After exploring the several kiln areas and hiking through sections of chalky white hillside, we quickly found ourselves back at the trailhead, but rather than leave the park, we headed for the beach to eat lunch and soak up the spring sun as a group. We chatted about the book, although sitting in such a peaceful setting, with the cherry sunshine warming our bodies, our discussion quickly shifted away from the tragic story. Instead, our conversation meandered as we caught up on one another’s lives. Before heading back to our cars, we made one last stop at the lighthouse, where we found ourselves lingering - that is until someone suggested we reconvene in Friday Harbor for drinks before the long journey we each had to reach home!