Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Land Time Almost Forgot - SeaKayaking Adventures - Day Two

By Linda Ballou Special to Baja Magazine

Day 2

The second day, we slid into the opalescent water early in the morning to beat the afternoon winds and were welcomed by a comfortable eighty degrees with a teasing breeze and rocking swells; it was a perfect paddle day. The deep water crossing from Danzante to Carmen Island is a wide stretch of open water that can present a challenge. Fernando, our local guide from La Paz, was paddling in perfect rhythm in the cockpit behind me, so I enjoyed a great sense of security.

The cliffs on the backside of Danzante display red sandblasted arches carved by ferocious Chubasco winds. Fernando pointed to a window in the rocks several stores up that navigators use to get their bearings. There are no beaches or trails on this side of the island, so kayaking is the ideal way to explore. We slipped up close to the cliffs to get a closer look at the sea caves. It was there I spied the nest of an osprey.

On the water, the natural flotsam consists of moss algae, sponges and the occasional jelly fish - the size of a dinner plate. We glided over boulders populated by magenta starfish and spiny purple urchins. Because there is no engine noise in a kayak, the wildlife doesn't scatter upon your approach. It allows you the sensation of being part of this translucent water world while remaining safe from the dangers of the deep.

The Sea of Cortez is the youngest sea on earth, a mere 25 million years old. It is cradled by rugged lava-rock cliffs that are embedded with numerous sea caves. Earthquakes generated from the San Andreas Fault created deep water canyons and separated the peninsula from the mainland. Strong ocean currents continually mix and lift food and nutrients from the deep ocean canyons, making this the perfect feeding ground for all types of marine mammals.

We quickly made the crossing to Punta Baja, where gulls greeted us with what sounded like hysterical laughter. A troop of pelicans flew close to the water in a "V" shaped wedge, webbed feet lowered for a splash landing. A lone, great blue heron held his station on the point, undisturbed by our arrival. The littoral was thick with shells, big corkscrew spikes, small orange cones and bivalves of every description. The shells in the fossil bed at Punta Baja are said to be as old as the sea itself.

Just as quickly as the ball drops on New Year's Eve at Time Square, the sun slid behind the windblown mountains, leaving a chill in the air. While others chose to sleep under the star speckled skies, I unraveled my tent poles and set up house. When I unzipped my bedroom at sunrise I was greeted with the sight of soft, muted mauves and purples draping over the Isla Montserrat. I watched the sun lift its warm face over the shimmering mirrored surface, turning the sky to an opalescent pink. In the distance, dolphins did somersaults.

It was time for breakfast; eggs with cactus, tomatoes and guacamole. We were a tribe now, accustomed to each other's morning face. We were becoming deeply immersed in the peaceful and unhurried rhythms of Baja. At Arroyo Roja, we enjoyed a view of lava cliffs. A row of rock fingerlets, where Sally Light-foot crabs scuttled at my approach, made for fun tide-pooling. Underwater, I spied on Sergeant Majors, parrot fish, stickfish, and Rainbow Wrasse as they flitted in and out of the oatmeal-colored algae. I floated over boulders peppered with starfish and anemones. I felt light years removed from my ever-present thoughts of danger and worries and from the question that eternally plagued me, "what's for dinner?"

Read more here

or check back with us on Thursday, August 12, for the adventure of Day 3
Linda is the author of Wai-nani, The High Chiefess of Hawaii - Her Epic Journey, and Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler's Tales. Find both these books at her website, www.lindaballouauthor.com

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