Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rock Gardens and Desert Islands, Mexico

Team "J" (John, Jim, Jay, and Jen), spent 6 fantastic days off the Pacific coast of Baja in early April, 2008. John, Jim, and Jay, all from Colorado are skilled sea kayakers who were looking for a little rough water training in a beautiful location. Northern Baja was the perfect answer!

Just 3 hours south of San Diego is a world class rock garden paradise where we explored and practiced our skills for 2 days before heading to Todos Santos Islands. We made the 8 mile trip (only 3 miles of open water) against big Pacific swell and a 15+ kt headwind and the Colorado crew agreed that not all 8 mile paddles are equal! But the hard work was worth every stroke. We shared the island with seals, sea lions, elephant seals, and a couple of local fisherman, but our picture perfect cove was all ours the first night.

We circumnavigated the islands twice, exploring every nook and crannie on the way. There were some fantastic rock garden features that challenged our skills and provided some pretty exciting water. We practiced rescues and towing in a fabulous slot that provided dynamic conditions and some real-life "pressure" to get the job done, but flushed through into calm water. Team J's skills rose to the challenge even when things started to go pear-shaped and we all learned a lot!

Our second morning on the island, we were just heading out of our cove when two kayaks glided around the corner. I recognised the paddlers instantly - it was Ed Gillet (he kayaked from CA to Hawaii solo in the 80's) and his wife Katie Kampe (an accomplished rower and sea kayaker). They owned a kayak shop in San Diego for many years called Southwest Kayaks and Ed introduced many paddlers to the wonders of Baja. We must have looked a sight to them. There we were, Team J, all decked out in helmets, PFDs, and dry suits, with our tow belts and knives strapped on for combat, and Ed an Katie glide up with PFDs on deck, wearing only t-shirts. What a contrast!

We ended our trip at a Mexican tourist attraction - La Bufadora. It's a huge blowhole with a market and restaurants built up around it. The cervesas tasted particularly good on the veranda overlooking the coast we had just paddled.

Thanks for a great time guys!


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