Monday, February 1, 2016

Waves, Wind & a 'Zero' Day - Trying to Loop the Salton Sea

Mid-day "siesta" usually included going ashore to find shade or create our own

Kayak & Sail in all their glory

We're now on day 6 of our Salton Sea kayak loop. We've spent the day at Ray & Carol's Motel by the Sea in Salton City, CA, awaiting the lessening of the strong winds that caused us to get off the water yesterday.

Reed awoke us early yesterday morning, before the sun rose, so that we could get on the water before the winds picked up. We started out sailing using the small forward-mount kayak sail that Reed loves to use. As the winds got stronger, we both heightened our focus & prepared for when the sail would need to come down, and quickly. That point came about 9:30, when the winds shifted direction & started blowing us away from the shoreline. Reed got the sail down quickly & we began to paddle in earnest. My heart was pounding & my eyes were searching for anywhere that would provide a decent spot to beach our craft. It was tough going & wasnt until 10:15 that we found a suitable spot, as in, somewhere we could paddle right up to shore & land on a sandy spot. My fear had been that we would be forced to go ashore at a muddy, shallow area, which could have meant much laborious trudging through sinking-in mud just to reach a place that we could leave our boat. We needed to get off the water, but not badly enough to spend an hour suffering through knee-deep mud, or worse. What relief to find a strange mound of concrete slabs piled on top of one another.

The next 'obstacle' was to creat shelter for ourselves, especially our faces, from the dust storm that the high winds (up to 30 mph)  had created. We turned the kayak against the wind & hunkered behind it, using the umbrella to create a small wind break & wrapped ourselves tightly in my fleece blanket, closing our eyes against the stinging salt & dust particles. After an hour of this, without relief in sight, we trudged up across the salt & mud flats to seek shelter in the little vegetation that we could see through the dust. In the brush & small bushes, we found a small area and set up our tent & got inside, using the rain fly to block the dust. And that's where we spent most of yesterday. The winds intensified over the course of the day. The tent flipped around & all of our belongings got covered in many layers of fine dust. During the night, our sleeping bags, hair & faces got coated. And yet, amidst the unpleasant circumstances, we enjoyed reading aloud from Margaret Murie's 'Two in the Far North' and we saw a DOUBLE rainbow.

This morning, the winds were still flapping our tent around on top of us. Our phones provided enough sporadic reception to allow us to check the weather. The winds were expected to stay high through sunset. And that's when we decided to get ourselves out of there. The night before, Reed had talked with Gary at Ray & Carol's, who had offered to come out to pick us up at the highway. He didn't have a room available, but he was willing to drive us to our car. We really wanted to finish our course around the Salton Sea, so we worked out with Gary that we would stay in our tent for the night & then meet him at the highway in the morning. And that's what we did. We walked the 4 miles across old military lands, which included awesome washes, rocks & canyons to arrive at highway 86. We placed a call to Gary from the median of the highway, which caught the attention of a highway patrolman. Officer Serrano stopped to try to understand just where we had come from & whether we needed any help. 'We're just waiting for a friend to pick us up' was not sufficient explanation! He was kind & helpful, surely surprised by our story. 'Where's your boat?' I don't know what he thought of our story but it seemed to satisfy him & away he went, leaving us to await Gary's pick up.

It's 7pm now, which is about 1 hour after our kayaking bedtime, as darkness falls by 6pm & soon afterwards we usually fall to sleep. We are both well-showered, full of breakfast burrito & canned field peas & corn and supremely grateful. Yesterday's events felt calamitous. I hated to be 'beached' & tent-bound all day. I wanted to be paddling. I wanted to be making progress. This morning when we left our kayak & walked to the highway, it felt like we were giving up. And yet, we got to meet Gary & be here in their lovely motel and in so doing, our experience of this Salton Sea paddle has been much enriched. And so I close with a quote that I received from my running coach today, which felt appropriate for the past two day's events.

"Be well and remember 'we're all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.'"

We'll be heading back out to our kayak in the morning, with refreshed supplies of food and 4+ gallons of water, and increased gratitude for the kind people who have helped us do adventures & explorations.

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