From The Publisher

July 9, 2017
BY: CARRIE DUNCAN

Check out the ad in this issue for Panterra boat rides. I’ve signed up with them for a five day push up the Sea of Cortez in September. I know, hurricane month, but I can dodge those OK, because nowadays we have a lot of warning. I chose September because the water is so warm at that time. My pool at home in Palm Springs hovers around 90 right now, and that’s perfect for the princess.

Well, I’m not so much of a princess, as I own three kayaks and usually use them just with my friends, no formal trip needed, no cowboys to rustle up the grub, nobody to pitch the tent for us.

One of my stupidest trips, (yup, the alert reader will see something coming here), was my first trip over to Espiritu Santo Island. It only lies about three miles off the shore of La Paz, but those three miles can be a windy treacherous crossing, so why screw with it? My friends and I made a reconnoiter trip to Tecolote beach, the jumping off point, and made a deal with a panga guy to take us over there, drop us off, and pick us up in three days. Actually, we hired two guys with pangas, because there were seven of us and we needed them to put our seven kayaks up on top of their shade roof. We struck a deal.

Day arrives, and about three car loads of friends and gear show up and start disgorging crap, all of it stuff that one or another of us believes is indispensable. Bacon tongs? Really? You can’t flip the bacon with a couple of forks? And fire wood? We’re going to load that in front of everyone when it’s illegal to build fires on the island? And how about that white plastic Corona chair swiped from some bar? What’s with the hole cut in the seat? Oh, that’s our toilet, ‘scuse, I didn’t know. Silly me.

My point is, if your group is trending toward the tenderfoot side, you’re going to have to hire a freight panga, and that’s exactly what we did. Now we’re up to three pangas for a 20 minute trip across the straight that we should have managed ourselves. I call this Teddy Roosevelt camping. These days it’s called glamping; glamour camping.

There was nothing glamorous about the next three days. They first thing I did was hike to the tallest peak and check out my cell signal in case our panga fleet failed to show up. After all, we can’t paddle ourselves back and leave that valuable toilet and those bacon tongs behind. The cell signal worked and the panga boys showed up right on time.

We had a fabulous time, camping out under the stars by night and swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming by day. Our plan was to circumnavigate the island, but after gliding by about four inlets, and then checking the map to see how much of the sea we had conquered, that plan went out the window. We sheepishly returned to camp and thereafter confined our sorties to short trips out from base camp.

The water was delicious, the crackling fire on the deserted beach was magical, and the night sky was something you can’t imagine if you live in Cabo which has so much light pollution you can’t see what’s over your head.

A different kind of kayaking is a trip up to Puerto San Carlos, another couple of hours past La Paz. We go there for kayaking among the mangroves. At certain times of the year it can be a hellish blur of mosquitoes, no see-ums, and assorted nasty predators of soft white skin. But in between those seasons, we have the tunnels of trees to ourselves, and it is magical. We glide down the sometimes quite wide and sometimes very narrow watery “streets” with mangrove trees hanging over our heads, meeting in the middle. At times our blue sky is blocked out by the green trees and we feel like we’re in a watery tunnel.

As we silently glide down these canals, we are startled by the animal life we startle. Sometimes we will flush out a large bird which will flap away from us, no doubt scared of us, but still nearly colliding with our heads. Other times creepy crawlies will plop into the water. Don’t look down is my motto, look up. I prefer flyers to slitheries. Still, from the safety of our kayaks, we are cozy, safe, and grateful to take it all in.

A word of advice should you go:  Take toilet paper to mark your trail. There are thousands of canals and it’s very easy to get lost. Retracing your steps at the end of the day, one intersection looks like another and it becomes apparent in a rush of panic that you are very, very lost. But if you had hung a couple squares of toilet paper at each intersection, you would be home in time for dinner. You are not littering, you can be secure in the knowledge that your scrap of tp will soon be shredded and swallowed up by the mangroves.

My last kayak trip was just last month on the Cumberland river when we were in Nashville for the Country Music Awards. Icky muddy river, fast current, dangerous water moccasins. Scratch Tennessee from your vacay list .

My next kayak trip is in a couple of weeks in Norway. We hired a guide for this, because we are way too irresponsible to be turned loose among fjords and icebergs and such. Then in August I will be hauling my  U.S. kayak to Idaho where I have a friend who has invited me to go kayaking. He’s touting a river that runs through Boise and is dotted with outdoor cafes and pubs. Hmmm…. urban kayaking. Sure, why not?