National Parks

Channel Islands Part 2. Fish goes blub.


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Road trips are known to be the ultimate test of a relationship.  Here’s another idea, spend the day in a tandem kayak, a.k.a, a divorce boat.  On our second day at Channel Islands National Park, Ryan and I did just that and spent the day exploring the coves and sea caves around Santa Cruz island.  I am happy to report that we survived with no injuries to ourselves or our relationship!

Somehow we reserved a spot on a trip with Channel Island Outfitters, despite the fact that I thought of the idea as we were boarding the boat to head over to the island.  After our first day at CINP we woke up the next morning and enjoyed sunrise on the beach as we waited for our guides, Mike and Chuck, and the other kayakers to arrive on the island.  Mike and Chuck were excellent guides, they were both great kayakers and very knowledgeable about the islands and marine life.  Mike was your atypical California surfer, the popular guy that makes everyone laugh.  Chuck on the otherhand was more quiet and mysterious, but we found out he had done some freelance photography work for  Backpacker magazine and had paddled all the way around the islands!  We also learned that the guides can live on the island part time.  They had a small, yet elaborate camp set up at the far end of the campgrounds, which we passed on our hike the previous day.  However, the park service has a rule in place limiting camping to two weeks, hence the part time.   We always enjoy getting to know our guides, they always have an interesting story and great appreciation for the parks.  I always leave these types trips feeling like I’ve come away with new friends, but I’m pretty sure the guides don’t even remember me.

Once we suited up in our padded wetsuits, helmets and spray jackets, we paddled around Scorpion Anchorage.  If you like glassy waters this is not the place for you.  I’m sure for Mike and Chuck it was pretty tame, but it was definitely the most extreme kayaking I’ve ever done, even compared to kayaking in Alaska.  We kayaked into a large cove protected by the cliffs to check out several harbor seals sleeping on the rocks.  From there we kayaked through a few small archways and caves and surfed in and out of a cave by timing our paddling with how the water filled it up. This was our first time learning about the skill of reading the water and how important it is for kayakers.  One of the highlights of the day was kayaking by a blow hole and getting sprayed by the mist.  In addition to the seals we saw some more gray whales in the distance and several colorful starfish along the rocks.

Even though Ryan and I both felt a little anxious about tipping over or hitting our heads on the cave walls we were able to stay afloat with no issues and only a few arguments!  Stability is one of the advantages of the tandem kayak.  We both enjoyed our trip to Channel Islands and look forward to returning to visit one of the other islands in the future.

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