Islas Carmen, Monserrat and Santa Catalina, April 19th to May 4th 2008.

Ten years ago I went on my first kayaking expedition to Baja. Every year or two since then I have gone on another expedition there, sometimes twice in one year. The first time I went it was a laid-back vacation of a trip, paddling few miles a day in calm conditions. When I do two Baja trips in one year, one of them is usually a vacation trip, and the other is a serious expedition with long days and rougher conditions. This trip to Isla Carmen was planned as a relaxing vacation paddle; although I planned in a few extra adventures for myself.

A decade ago I started paddling near the north end of the Sea of Cortez, and there have been a series of trips to travel sections of the coastline that were successively farther south. Last year’s trip ended in Loreto so this trip started there. The original plan was to hop from island to island down the shore and then paddle back to Loreto along the coastline of the main Baja peninsula. This looked too much like a serious expedition so the plan was pared back to two islands with a side trip for me to Isla Santa Catalina (the infamous island of the rattle-less rattlesnakes).

As I have traveled to locations farther and farther south on the Sea of Cortez the drive to get to the water has gotten longer and longer. It takes three days each way to drive to Loreto, using up a lot of vacation time just to get there and back. I decided to fly to this trip. I was going to bring my folding kayak, but Doug Hamilton decided to drive his truck down and offered to take several extra kayaks with him. This allowed Kate DesLauriers and I to fly down with most of our gear in two pieces of luggage. The cars started driving down on a Thursday. The flyers left Sauturday morning, took a van from the airport to the Tripui Hotel, and the drivers arrived only a few hours after we did.

Some of us rented an exorbitantly expensive hotel room for the night and the rest set up their tents on the lawn for a reasonable camping fee. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and the first of three birthday parties for Kate. Kate’s birthday was in a few days but Andrea Wolfe figured fresh strawberry shortcake (one of Kate’s favorite desserts) would not survive storage in a kayak.

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