Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Break in Baja.

This Spring Break SMC Paddlers were yearning for fun and the Wilderness Program heeded their call. Each year the WP runs extended excursions over winter and spring breaks, having visited locations far-flung as Kenya and Scotland. But this year marks the first time we made the trek over to Southern California/Northern Mexico, and it was a journey well worth the travel.

Our group of nine flew from Burlington to San Diego on the first Saturday of Break, spending the night at the home of our west-coast contact and British Canoe Union Level 5 Coach extraordinaire, Jen Kleck. The next morning, van packed and boats loaded, we made the crossing from San Diego into Mexico through Tijuana to Ensenada (where we stopped for fish tacos and quesadillas at the market), and finally out to La Bufadora, only after picking up some tamales for dinner.
Crossing to Las Islas de Los Todos Santos.

Our first day on the water consisted of crossing from the peninsula to La Isla de Todos Santos, which was about a 7 nautical mile crossing. Being our first day out, many of us spent some time finding our sea legs (or since we were sitting, sea bums?). The swells (waves) on the coast that day were big (9 feet at 18 seconds), so the crossing took a bit of time. When we finally arrived at the islands, we were welcomed by  seals and other aquatic amigos. However, it had been a long day and ocassionally nauseating day, so terra firma was a welcome sight.. Our camp consisted of  a bunkroom built inside an old lighthouse, next to its newer replacement. It was a wicked cool experience camping out in such a unique place.
Mr . Coughlin alongside some wildlife.
Our second day out we paddled and played in and around the numerous features of Todos Santos. In coastal conditions, there are often rocks and other geological formations that allow for white-water-esqe boating in the swell. After circumventing the larger island and looping back to camp, we posted up for a good night’s sleep before our 7nm trek home.

After our excursion to the islands, we spent our remaining days paddling numerous venues near La Bufadora. We paddled everything from caves to 'slots' (wave runs that will form between two rocks as a swell comes in from the ocean), and even a couple blowholes (La Bufadora actually means 'the blowhole', and we paddled in the blowhole that the town is famous for). Throughout the week, our group of paddlers made significant strides in developing both their paddling and navigation skills, largely due to the presence of precisely one half of the BCU Level 5 Coaches residing in North American (the WP’s Todd Johnstone-Wright and Jen Kleck), combined with the challenges of our beautiful location. It was a fun and productive week, to say the least. To check out more pictures from the week, head to the WP's Facebook page.

Thanks for reading; til the next adventure.

--Ben (may or may not be pictured below) Rosbrook