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. Some of the things we removed where the heavier layers such as my down jacket and I had an extra pair of water shoes I left for this leg of the trip. There also wasn't any room or need for my larger day pack so that plus some food and our street clothes were repacked.

We loaded all our gear up into the truck and went down to the outfitter to finalize sleeping bags and wet suits as needed. We also had to load up several kayaks. We are using two tandems, and three singles. The singles are from Wilderness Systems and the tandems are Amaruk's 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. The guides already had their kayaks over on the islands so we only had to transport three kayaks. 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.

This leg of the trip was taking place up and around Isla Espirito Santo with a circumnavigation of Isla la Partida. Both islands were acquired through the Mexican government by the Nature Conservancy to protect this biosphere. On this leg of the trip we are to paddle, hike and snorkel around for 5 days. Since this is a delicate desert biosphere, we must reduce our impact. The ocean will be our bide and a bucket our toilet. Urinating is allowed only in the surf zone and solid waste is disposed of further out in the deeper waters. All trash is carried out. Because of the scarcity of water, water is for drinking and cooking only. So the ocean will also be our bathtub as needed. There are very few wells on the islands so water is a previous commodity on our trip.

We broke up into a couple of smaller groups with one person resting at camp. 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. With the tide low, it is hard to gain entry into the lagoon so we continued on to the next point. Low tide had exposed some red crabs 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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