Rattlesnake Beach to Isla Carmen, April 20th 2008.

In the morning Dough Hamilton and I drove down to Puerto Escondito to see if we could launch from there. This is one of those Mexican government sponsored marinas that are being built on both sides of the peninsula to attract tourists. This one is a huge harbor created by connecting several islands together with breakwaters. The new facilities include a boat ramp, boat launching crane, 50,000 gallon fuel tanks, boat docks and two guys in yellow shirts who come out to charge you for using any of this. The shoreline is “developed” into concrete docks and breakwaters so there is no beach left for launching a kayak. Instead we drove a mile in the other direction to drop off our kayaks on Rattlesnake Beach. Someone had to drive the cars back to store them at the hotel and walk back through the desert to the beach.

When ready to launch, we paddled a short distance to the middle of Isla Danzante and then explored the shoreline up to the north end of this island. This allowed us to do some rock gardening and also got us out the wind that had been blowing straight at us. The north end of this island is a separate island at high tide. We landed on the narrow spit at low tide for lunch. Someone had tried to clear the rocks away and make a channel across the spit but the waves had filled in part of it with sand again. Some of us were willing to drag our boats across the sand and paddle across. Half our number chose to simply paddle the short distance around the northern point of the island.

Next we paddled a short distance across to Isla Carmen and started exploring the east shore of this island. One of the beautiful things about the area south of Loreto is the Sierra la Giganta mountains. This is a range of very steep and rugged mountains. Several of the peaks are out in the Sea of Cortez so they stick up out of the water as islands. Islas Danzante and Carmen are the most dramatic of these with vertical cliffs rising out of the water and craggy peaks directly above. Paddling around these islands is like being able to fly around the peak of a mountain top.

Since this was our first day paddling we took it easy and landed on the first suitable camping beach we found. Kate DesLauriers and I hiked up the arroyo behind the beach late in the evening. This allowed us to sit on a rock in the shade of the valley until the sun was low enough for the beach to cool off. On my first Baja trip I brought a thin “summer” sleeping bag and was cold at night. On this trip, even though it was at the same time of the year, the nights were warm and I slept most nights without the sleeping bag. Later in the evening a fin whale swam by. The sides of Isla Carmen are so steep, above and below the water, that the whale was only a short distance offshore.

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact