Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trekking with Chris

As most of my friends will acknowledge, I am a pretty good hiker. Trekking with Chris, however, has put a whole new meaning to exploratory hikes and sometimes leave me wishing for the well trodden trails of the northwest forests where I used to roam with the Cowichan Outdoor Group.

In the Baja heat we venture into the desert, scramble up scree encrusted hills, hop rock to rock and dodge the prickly bushes and cacti in the steep arroyos where rain water once tumbled down the mountains. The anticipated three hours become six and we return with wearied limbs covered in spidery trails of dried blood. Chris rarely complains despite suffering more than his share of this abuse ( he rarely  pays attention to that old addage “look before you leap” ).

Dos Amigos on San Gabriel beach
Off on an adventure!

Making new friends on Bonanza Beach
Puffers can be cool too!

John with staff

Multitude of life under rocks
John lifted some rocks in the tide pools on the southern end of Bonanza Beach and we were amazed at the number of sea stars, cucumbers, worms and shells hiding in the cool shade and shallow water. Writhing masses of brittle stars reminded us of a brood of vipers. Speaking of vipers, John warned us about the poisonous jabs of the pretty cone shells. Having spent a few years in the Marshall Islands, he has seen his share of exotic shells and seems well informed of their deadly interaction with the naive beach comber.

Brittle Star hiding under the rocks

Shells living in the rock pools of Bonanza Beach

I should have warned our friend John of sv Time Piece before we invited him on a cross-island hike on Isla Espiritu Santo.The first leg of the trek from San Gabriel Bay to Bonanza Beach was an easy hike through a well traveled arroyo but the return leg was a detour directed by Chris.

Along the way, Chris invited John to follow him in his "Thelma and Louise" leap off a large dune. Unfortunately, I did not catch the action on my camera, so Chris repeated this twice for my benefit and had a prickly landing on the third attempt. John used his safety training skills to extract the cactus spines from his foot.

Let's follow the coyote trail

But, first, let's go up this dune and jump off the top!


Chris ran into this beastie at his third run down the dune :(
“ We can climb over that gray looking ridge and come down into an adjacent arroyo which should bring us back behind the bird colony”. It sounded easy enough but what we did not foresee was that there was another ridge beyond the first and traversing those hills would be hard work in the afternoon heat. In this instance we decided that following Chris was not the best idea, so John and I decided to mutiny and scramble down  instead of following him up the second ridge.

We think he ran up to beat us to the dinghies as he managed to disappear rather quickly from view. While hopping along the rock slides and crawling down crumbling sandstone scree, we amused ourselves by inventing stories of encounters with wild cats and near death escapes that we would later recount to our very own Captain Bligh.

"We just have to go over one more ridge , honest!"

Cardon Cactus in arroyo

Rani's cave

Boats beyond the frigate colony
 Finally our arroyo opened into the salty flats behind the mangrove sanctuary of the nesting frigate colony.

Dinghy transfer 
To his credit, Chris rowed out to Ladybug to fetch us all a can of cold beer when we emerged onto the beach, battered and bruised. And he towed John's dinghy from the beach into shallower water, probably to ease his conscience.

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