Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Break in Mexico.

El rancho de La Bufadora.
In terms of atypical-typical spring breaks, mine was everything you might expect, and not. The Wilderness Program often runs extended excursions over winter and spring breaks, having visited locations far-flung as Kenya and Scotland. Over break, I participated in a trip to Baja California, Mexico, with a group of 9 other paddlers, including our program director, student leader, and local instructor from San Diego.

We flew from Burlington to San Diego on the first Saturday, spending the night at Jen's house (our west-coast contact, and a peer of SMC's own Todd Wright's in the world of prestigious paddling instruction). That night we slept on her back porch under the stars; a nice and sudden departure from the cold and snowy of our beloved Vermont.

Our not-so-minivan and boats.
We spent Sunday traveling from San Diego to La Bufadora, Mexico, boats in tow behind our beautiful boxy not-so-minivan (the rack on top is my favorite part). On our way we crossed through Tijuana, 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. The area was jaw-droppingly beautiful; geographically, it's a desert on the ocean. As you can imagine, the weather here was nice like San Diego ;)

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 swell (waves) on the coast that day were pretty big, so the crossing took some time. When we finally arrived to the islands, though, there were seals and other aquatic amigos who saluted our arrival (seriously, they were super friendly). However it had been a long day, so hard ground was a much-celebrated accomplishment when we finally made it ashore. Also, our camp was a bunkroom built inside an old lighthouse, next to the newer one built to replace it (pictured). It was a wicked cool experience camping out in such a unique place.

Our second day out we paddled the features around the island. In coastal conditions, there are often rocks and other geological formations that allow for white-water-esqe boating in the swell. This week was my first time being exposed to conditions like that, and the playtime we found in the islands was like something in a dream. After circumventing the larger island and looping back to camp, we posted up for a good nights sleep before our 7nm trek home.

After our excursion to the islands, we spent Thursday and Friday paddling around La Bufadora. We paddled through 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 i the blowhole that the town is famous for). I found myself exponentially more comfortable in a boat from the instruction I received from our own Todd Wright, as well as our west-coast amiga Jen Kleck. While I had a ton of fun all week, it felt great to develop my paddling skills and learn some techniques that I had never learned. By far, the most enjoyable and productive Spring Break I've experienced in my young life.

While my words can't do justice to the beauty we encountered on this trip, these photos from the Wilderness Program might be more successful:

Here's to more adventures in the future, and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paddling in Baja: a preview.

Over spring break I'll be traveling to Baja, Mexico for a week of kayaking in the pacific waters. Our group will fly out to San Diego where we'll meet with Jenn K., a contact of Todd Wright's and a fellow of his in paddling certification. After that, we'll pack the van, and drive to the region north of Ensenada, where we'll begin our adventures.

While there, we'll spend full days paddling along the coast, and at least one (if not two nights) exploring around and camping on small islands off the coast. I'm looking forward to both developing my paddling skills in a different environment, and spending time in Mexico; a country whose politics, social welfare and culture are heavily present in the U.S. I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico once before while in high school, but I was much farther south and I imagine the experience will be somewhat different.

I'm looking forward to sharing stories about the trip when I return, but first I've got a week of class and some last-minute gear sorting and overall planning to do ;)

Happy Spring Break, and thanks for reading!