Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baja Day 4, Feb 16

We started today at 7:30 rather then 8:30 so we could go to a sea lion hangout and a bird rookery. The sea lions, being curious, came up almost immediately, before we even had a chance to tie off the kayaks. We tied the kayaks to a mooring buoy and hopped in to snorkel with them. The island is protected meaning we were not allowed to land nor get within 15 feet of the island. Snorkeling with the sea lions was quite interesting, they are so graceful in the water. They came over and gave us some playful nips, but not any real serious bites. It was disconcerting though. For the most part, it was the smaller females and juveniles that came over to inspect us. The larger males kept away and only came over to investigate later.

We hopped back into the kayaks and finished circumnavigating the smaller of the two islands. On the paddle, we watched an osprey attack a bird about the same size as it, looked like a Frigate bird. It kept chasing it around. We stopped at the gap between the two islands for some lunch. The gap was beautiful and serene, the water so calm. Lunch was a very interesting take on macaroni with cheese having spices in it. We had a choice to stay put at that beach for camping or continue one more beach over. We opted to press on as this beach was more of a mud flat and the next one would afford a better sunset.

Tonight is another clear night with good star gazing. The temperatures feel cooler tonight, so I pulled out the silk liner. I also pulled out my jacket for warmth. The paddle was flat and calm through the gap then surprisingly flat and calm back on the ocean. Normally the wind kicks up in the afternoon and causes some wind generated waves. This was not the case this time.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Baja Day 3, Feb 15

Another early start. Last night the skies were clear giving some great star gazing. Today was clear skies with just a touch of wind. The sea was quite calm most of the day with some chop before lunch. We stopped once for a snack and once for lunch before getting to tonight's campsite. After lunch the wind picked up some as did the ocean swells. We had been seeing a fairly consistent 1-2 foot swell but after lunch it was closer to a 4 foot swell. We were battling the wind, waves and exhaustion as we made our way into camp.

The hike up was quite rocky but not as bad as yesterday's hike. There was a tricky spot but otherwise fairly level over the gain. We climbed up to view the empty inland basin then climbed up further to a plateau to see more. The views were expansive with nothing blocking out views. We headed back down before the sunset this time to avoid navigating the tricky part in the falling darkness. It was a little more difficult coming down the tricky spot then it was going up so the light was good to have. This beach has several pelicans who gave us a show diving for fish. Several even dove together, almost synchronized.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baja Day 2, Feb 14

Happy Valentine's Day. I received a nice card this morning from my sweetie. At least this morning didn't start too early. Most everyone was up, packed and ready to load the kayaks by about 8:15ish. We enjoyed a nice breakfast of yogurt and granola.

Loading the boats is like a Tetris puzzle. Each piece needs to fit in a certain spot and be packed down as tight as possible in order for the rest of the items to fit into their space. After we loaded the boats, we paddled south to the lagoon. It was just as picturesque and quiet as it looked the night before from our vantage point on the headwater. We saw some egrets, herons, and pelicans. The tide was just right (high enough) to allow us to get in and out without a portage.

Back out on the Sea of Cortez, we turned back to the north and paddled out towards the three islands we had seen from the headwater, Isla Gallina (hen, the smallest and closest), Isla Gallo (rooster, the middle island), and Isla Ballena (whale, the furthest north and whale shaped). By the time we got to camp, we had passed the last island, and had paddled about 6 miles. As expected (from the weather report), the wind picked up in the early afternoon. We made it to our next campsite but the wind was crazy to paddle against.

Tonight's campsite is very small. We are all perched on a small shelf just above the tide line which is a very small area. With the tide coming in, it is quickly becoming even smaller. We have been told we will be okay but it looks tight. We did a little snorkeling after setting up camp. A small school of fish swam just ahead of us before darting off into the depths. The hike up to the top was quite a climb but worth the views. We watched the sunset then made our way back down to enjoy supper. We had some very good star gazing with clear skies and very little light pollution.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baja Day 1, Feb 13

Today was a long day. We ended up getting in quite late last night by bus from Cabo to La Paz then we found out we had over-packed and had to pare down our pile of gear. We were then up early to repack and finalize the gear. Having been told to expect much cooler weather we packed dry pants and spray tops. We also had limited space in which to pack things.

We loaded all our gear up into the truck and went down to the outfitter to finalize sleeping bags and wet suits as needed. A short walk took us down to the beach were we loaded up the small skiff that was to take us over to the islands. This leg of the trip was taking place up and around Isla Espirito Santo, protected as a biosphere as part of the Nature Conservancy. On this leg of the trip we are to paddle, hike and snorkel around for 5 days. Our group is 5 people plus 2 guides, including professional photographer Daniel Fox. The boat ride over was a bit rough but otherwise pretty and scenic. We saw a couple of whales on the boat ride over. We set up camp and enjoyed a nice lunch before splitting up.

We broke up into a couple of smaller groups with one person resting at camp, then several people went snorkeling while the rest of us enjoyed a 2+ hour paddle to the south. We passed a nice enclosed lagoon with mangroves. When the tide is low it is hard to gain entry into the lagoon so we continued on to the next point. With the tide going out, some red crabs were exposed on the rocks.

Back at camp after the paddle, we rested up before hiking to the top of the headwater to get a view of the lagoon and to watch the sunset. The lagoon had clear turquoise waters surrounded by vibrant green mangroves. We hiked down in the gathering darkness and enjoyed a nice but later supper. The skies were cloudy that night so not much start gazing was done. We had a new moon recently so not even the moon was visible. We had a little rain sprinkle down on us just after laying down to sleep so there was a flurry of activity as everyone jumped up to close up the tents, then we were down for the night, enjoying the silent calm.

This trip was made possible by both Aquapac and Alaska Mountain Guides. I am grateful to Aquapac for this opportunity and Alaska Mountain Guides for a wonderful experience. Stay tuned for more posts on this trip.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preparing for Baja

We are leaving soon for a kayaking trip to Baja. The spare bed has been piled high with gear and we only just packed is away the other day. I get the feeling though that tonight we will be going through everything for that one last pass through and to make sure important things are taken care of, like charged camera batteries and spares. I also need to make sure I have the charging cables for my Nook and Peek. I don't know if I will have time to use them (they said bring a book), but I am hoping I do get to use them as I want to know how much battery time I get out of each device. I want to know how long they will last on a hiking trip. During my AT thru-hike, the one thing I found I didn't like to go without was books. So having a Nook with tons of books on it should satisfy the bookworm in me happily.

Having the Peek along is again more for testing how it works for email access and to try to keep maintaining the blog. I hope to be able to electronically do some of my journal entries so my family can follow along. This will be a great test, assuming I can pick up signal down in Baja for the thing. I also have to figure out how to email posts to Blogger to actually give on the go posts. This could be lots of fun assuming the battery gives me a long run.

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