All this sun is going to drive me crazy! The first thing I do in the morning is put on sunscreen and shades before even getting out of my tent. By 8 AM it’s hot. We have breakfast and start to break camp. After I pack up I crouch in the shadow of the cave and trim the jagged edges of a fingernail with my new little buck knife. One thing I learned on this trip is that you should always bring nail clippers. We prepare to paddle half a day south to the next campsite.
This is probably the third time I’ve taken a course which starts from the very beginning and they have you practice wet exits. It’s t-shirt and shorts weather but the water feels cold, probably around 60 degrees. I’m wearing a long farmer john and a long black sleeve shirt from the recently defunct Gig Harbor Kayak Center. “OK, I’m going to try a couple rolls now” – I pull it off, both sides. Ah, refreshing! I’m in that old Tyee with A Euroblade so it feels awkward. And now the rudder has popped loose and it’s swinging off to the side. I ask Pato to put it back in place. The little bungee that keeps it secured to the deck is missing.
Before the trip we talked as a group about our previous kayaking experience and it was clear that I had the most training of any of the students. Noah asked me if I was OK with going through all the basic exercises and strokes again and I said yeah, I’ll just have fun with it. We made an agreement though that if he sees me practice bad form he would get all BCU on my ass. So I ended up learning quite a bit thanks to him and my form has improved. Noah just completed the 4 Star Sea assessment before coming to Baja. He said that during his exam it wasn’t always good enough to perform each individual stroke correctly. What his assessor really wanted to see was strokes combined and flowing together seamlessly, like a forward stroke merging into a hanging draw, or a bow rudder into a forward stroke.
After wet exit and rescue practice we paddle to one of the highlights of the week, a hot spring bubbling up in the intertidal zone. We park the kayaks and walk across the rocks to a murky green puddle. This is it?! I had imagined it a lot bigger. It turns out to have room for plenty of people to stretch out in it though. The water burns my ankles as I step in, and I have to take a minute before sitting down. The high tide will cover the spring completely over and wash it out, so it’s important to get there at low tide, and before other kayaking groups start to move in.
After doing a little snorkeling I see another group of people walking toward the hot spring. Apparently it’s the women’s paddling group camped in the next beach over. “Hola," I say as pass them on the way back to our kayaks. Jackie starts up a conversation with them while they start to strip completely naked and step in. I turn around and double back to the spring. “Um, Jackie… Hey, did I leave my snorkel back here? Anyone see my snorkel?”
Have you ever used one of those river toilets? It consists of a plastic box and a detachable toilet seat. The procedure is to first pee in the intertidal zone to keep the volume in the toilet down. Then take the designated toilet paper roll in the zip lock bag so that everyone knows that someone else is using the baño. Don’t put the used toilet paper in the baño because it makes it a lot harder to clean out. There is a separate plastic bag for all the used toilet paper. It’s actually not that unpleasant to use because you’re out alone in the middle of nature and can admire the scenery. Plus there is plenty of ventilation. I admit I had to fish the toilet paper out of the tank with a stick a couple times because I forgot to put it in the plastic bag, but I bet everyone has done that!