Paddling through Paradise

On Shore and at Sea
  |  Gorp.com
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On the days we move camp, we struggle out of our warm sleeping bags at 5:30 a.m., since the calmest kayaking conditions are in the early morning. After coffee and breakfast, we load the kayaks by the rosy light of sunrise and set off together, lines of silvery flying needlefish leading the way.

Other days we rise at our leisure, taking time to soak in the early morning calm. Midmorning we would launch our kayaks and paddle to a sheltered cove for some hiking and snorkeling.

Hundreds of fish and invertebrates live in the Sea of Cortez, making it ideal for snorkeling. Brightly colored marine fish such as the yellow-and-blue sergeant major and orange-tailed grouper scurry by our masks. Scorpion fish, masters of camouflage, disguise themselves as barnacle-encrusted rocks. Bright red starfish and spiky sea urchins cling to rocky ledges, and spiny lobsters peek from the crevices.

At the shoreline, orange, polka-dotted crabs scampered over the rocks. Tide pools were filled with mysterious, tiny organisms. Fast-moving shells harbor shy hermit craps, who will gladly invade an open sleeping bag—given the chance.

Hikes often entail scrambling up crumbling sandstone cliffs, past elephant trees and assorted cactuses, for a crow's nest view of the area. We are treated to bird songs supplied by doves, gulls, hummingbirds, and gnatcatchers.

After a week of paddling around various islands, we head back to the mainland. To balance out our Baja experience, our tour leader arranged a dinner with a local ranching family. We were graciously invited into their modest home for a meal of freshly picked squash and garlic, rice and onions, goat cheese, homemade tortillas, and basil tea. Sitting under the thatch-roofed patio, sharing food, and laughingly trying to make ourselves understood, we get a real sense of the warmth and pride of these rural Mexicans.

And then, suddenly, the trip is over. While I admit to resorting to an Ibuprofen occasionally, it was worth it. I hardly thought about my everyday problems for nine glorious days. In fact, the last time I had such a relaxing vacation I was about ten years old, paddling a canoe at summer camp.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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