Paddling on the Brink

San Felipe to Bahia Animas

Baja Sea-Kayaking Adventure #3

24 days, the Sea of Cortez with Linda, Dec 1976

Ray Jardine

page 22 of 22

DAY 24, January 12

I awake at dawn to a strange sound: Silence. Total silence. It is calm! We put together our fastest packing job ever and shove off into a light southeasterly. Heading back north, returning to Baja de los Angeles, we paddle for a ways but in the increasing wind we soon give up in favor of sailing. Life is a series of contrasts, and here we find ourselves gliding along effortlessly in contrast to the terrible struggles of the previous day. We sail in the wonderful sun all morning.

Once, while passing close to a small island we startle a pelican which had apparently just caught a very large meal. It takes to flight, but the load in its bill is too heavy and it crashes shortly after take off, spilling an astounding number of fingerlings back into the sea. The loss is so sudden and unexpected that the bird just sits there with an incredulous look on its face and allows us to pass close by. At least we saved the fish, I reason.

On another occasion a blue footed boobie fails to move out of our way - unlike the many others that had scurried for safety. We keep coming down on the creature until Linda hollers "Ray! Ray!! Look out, we're going to run over it!!" I swerve just in time and the kayak misses the poor creature by a fraction.

We cruise across the large bay and land uneventfully back at Bahia de Los Angeles, at 1:30 PM.

We spend a couple of days in town doing some R & R - Rest and Repacking. After a final dinner at the Casa we portage our gear, including the dismantled kayak, in three carries out of town to the trailer court junction. Here, we hope to hitch a ride in the morning. It is not until well after dark that we find a place to camp.

The following morning we awake, surprised to find a small house very nearby and a few occupants standing outside gawking at us in obvious astonishment. I tell Linda to ignore their stares because we were here first, and we set ourselves to the task at hand: waiting for a car to drive by. Linda's journal entry reads: "Today's the day we try out our thumbs. With all this gear it can only lead to an epic event."

Cars pass us by at the rate of about one per hour. A gaggle of RVs go by, the occupants pretending not to notice us. Sitting on our mountain of gear as we are, we don't blame them.

At the five hour mark an old and already overloaded VW bus brakes to a halt. Sure, they will take us at least out to the highway, but first we must go on a side trip into the desert in search of Indian cave paintings. After driving around in the desert for a couple of hours without success, we head back to the road and soon arrive in Parador and the main highway. Our friends continue their travels southward.

We are told that the bus will fly by at 10:00 PM, which is in another eight hours, and that we might flag it down if we can catch the driver's attention.

A few more hours of thumbing, and a car stops for us. The driver and his companion invite us in, they're going to Los Angeles - whoopee! We load our gear and the driver blasts down the narrow, twisting highway at harrowing 75+ mph. These people are in a rush because they have the flu and are understandably desperate to get home as soon as possible.

Arriving back in San Diego late that night, back on go the shoes. We have returned from the no-man's land of bare feet and warm Baja sand, from the Sea of Cortez and its profusion of sea life, from the simple vagabundo life of campfires and grilled cabrilla. Now it is back to the shackles of the modern world. But already I am planning to return to Baja, and will no doubt utter those classic words once again.

© 1976 Ray Jardine

The story has 22 pages. This is page 22.
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