Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My First Oru Kayak Adventure--Nisqually Mud Flats, WA

Finally the rain has abated from the Pacific Northwest since my return from Loreto, Mexico.  Monday, May 22nd was the hottest day of the year here so I figured what better time to try out my new light weight kayak.  We recently moved from Seattle to Lacey, WA and our home is about 3/4 mile by trail to Puget Sound and the Nisqually Mud Flats. Our property and the path down to Puget Sound was once owned by the Atlas Powder Company who used the area and dock to load munitions for the various wars ranging from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Since it was a warm, calm day, I decided that this would be my first adventure with the Oru Kayak, I recently purchased.  It is an origami folded kayak that weighs just 26 lbs.   I headed down the trail to Puget Sound after posing with the Oru Kayak in its backpack after posing with it in our backyard in the Jubilee development.



Once at the abandoned ammo depot wharf area, I assembled the kayak for its maiden voyage.



I just wanted to see how it would do, however I ended up paddling all the way to the Billy Franks Jr. National Wildlife Refuge with its wooden walkway that goes about 2 miles out from the National Park Resource Center.



Although the pictures do not show up the Mountain very well, I had beautiful views of Mt. Rainier on my way there which were not captured by my photos.

Fortunately I came across two other kayakers from California who volunteered to take my picture with the wildlife refuge in the background.



Along the way, I passed by a oyster harvesting group of boats and facilities and even scrapped the bottom of my kayak on some of the oysters they had seeded in the area.

On the way back to dock and trail, I had the Olympic Mountain Range in my view the entire time along with an incoming tide that assisted in my return.



It was a good outing, but I think I need to review the video on how to fold up the kayak after using.  They say it just takes 3 minutes and for this time I took about 10 minutes with the first two folds the most puzzling.

Click on this link to see how the Oru Kayak is assembled:  Assembling Oru Kayak


Monday, April 24, 2017

Twelve Loreto, Mexico Winter Hikes--2016-17

My winter season in Loreto, BCS, Mexico was a bit short because we were building a new home in Lacey, WA in advance of my wife's retirement at the end of March 2017.  We realized that our downtown condo--900 square feet-- was just too small for two retirees, and the Seattle housing prices were rapidly escalating so a larger home in downtown Seattle would be too pricy.

Pinturas Arroyo--2016
I returned to Loreto mid October, and notified the Loreto Bay homeowners that I was starting up the weekly hikes---- with our loosely assembled group we call Loreto Bay Hikers--- up the surrounding arroyos beginning with my favorite Pinturas arroyo rock hopping hike past four pools on October 20th.


I was joined John and Lucy and their friend Rosemary who had not hiked in this area before.


They were amazed by the rugged canyon walls, trees, cactus, and other plants clinging to the steep walls as they hiked along the river past three smaller pools.  We swam in the last and deepest pool as a reward for our hard work.



Jucalito Sur Arroyo--2016
On October 27th our core group of Loreto Bay Hikers---included John, Stuart, and Dan---explored the Juncalito Sur arroyo that involved some serious rock scrambling up to the pool that several of us swam in before returning for a delicious lunch at the Clam Shack a waterside favorite that specializes in stuffed clams, raw clams and other seafood tasty treats along with icy cold refreshments.

We are sitting on what is normally a cascading waterfall which has almost dried up.


We are doing a bit of scrambling up to the next pool.


We have just arrived at the last largest pool and are preparing for a quick dip.


Dan was the first in, followed by John and Stuart.





Tabor Canyon--2016
Word has gotten out, so our Loreto Bay Hikers group has grown to 11 hikers as we headed up Tabor Canyon on November 3rd. Tabor canyon is the first canyon most of us knew about before discovering the "Hiking Loreto" guide book by DeeDee and Dave Kelly.  It is by far the most popular canyon hike in the area and easy to get to via a short dirt road drive opposite the Escondido entrance. 











We enjoyed swimming in this 76 degree pool as Dan and Tim were more adventurous by scaling the steep wall and continuing up the larger pool through a hole in the rocks followed by two rope climbs.  On the return "Cannon Ball Dan" repeated his jump into the lower pool.



  Again the Clam Shack was our go-to place for food and refreshments.

20 KM Circuito Ultras del Desierto--Half Marathon 2016
On November 6th Gary Holliday and I entered the 1/2 marathon along with over 500 others--many who chose shorter distances.  We went from the Nopolo Rock to downtown Loreto.  Almost all of the racers were Mexicans except for a few professional Kenyan racers.  We had intended to do it as a walk, but it turned out to be a run so we jogged the first kilometer to amuse the spectators.  We had planned to get water along the way at the designated water stations, but by the time we got there, they had closed them up and we could see the ambulance heading away from us and following the bulk of the runners.  Fortunately Gary's wife, Heidi, brought us some water along the way.

They had closed off a portion of Mexican Highway 1 for the runners, but reopened it by the time Gary and I got there so we ended up walking on the ATV trail on the side of the highway.


This the the start of the 1/2 marathon and the shorter race groups start at different locations along the race route.


Here we are at the 20 km sign---one of the few they did not tear down by the time we got there.


Gary and I got our medals thanks to a little help from Cecelia Fischer--a local biologist who we have gone on hikes with and works for the Ocean Foundation that is dedicated to preserving and restoring the oceans around the world and here in Loreto too.


Gary and I are just relaxing in the shade waiting to join up with Heidi for lunch and refreshments at a local restaurant after our 1/2 marathon.


Pinturas Arroyo--2016
On November 10th we returned to Pinturas Arroyo with a 26 Loreto Bay Hikers--for many it was a first time hiking experience ever---eager to explore the four pools and the river rushing through the boulders along the way. 




About half the hikers made it to the upper pool to discover that the 10 feet of gravel beach fronting the huge boulder had washed away during hurricane season.  





This provided the swimmers a great place to jump in.  



On our return we stopped for food and refreshments at Del Borrachos---great hamburgers or taco salads along with Modelo Negro on tap.  This was my last winter Loreto area hike in 2016.

Slot Canyon--2017
Upon my return in 2017, six Loreto Bay Hikers went to Slot Canyon which was a few miles up the Primera Aguas dirt road.  


We headed down the arroyo and were observed by a pair of goats way up on one of the steep sides of the canyon.  


We easily rapelled down the waterfall on a frayed knotted rope to the carved out canyon below.  


Here is a video of my ascent when the waterfall was flowing:







We explored the nearby steep walled Lobo Arroyo before heading up the Aguas Primera canyon stream.


 We explored the remains of the aqua blue painted swimming pool and changing rooms severely damaged by successive hurricanes.  We found lots of fish in a pool near the old swimming pool.  Hard to believe that fish could survive here.


We then hiked back to our car and had food and refreshments at Del Borrachos.

Copper Top Canyon--2017
On January 12th we had 19 Loreto Bay hikers join us to explore the challenging rock hopping Copper Top Canyon where we had a great sweeping view of the Sea of Cortez far below.  


Many of these hikers were first timers. The boulders were immense as we made our way up to the viewpoint of the Sea of Cortez.






We had planned to stop at the Clam Shack, but it was closed until February so we ended up at Del Borrachos instead.

Pinturas Arroyo--2017
When we returned to the Pinturas Arroyo with 20 Loreto Bay Hikers on January 19th, we discovered that a mountain bike group had built a trail that went up above the fourth and largest pool that we normally visit and swim in.  It was built along the remains of the old road to San Javier that had repeatedly been washed out by successive hurricane seasons. 


Some of the group went on that trail and others continued rock hopping up to the fourth pool.  With no easy way to rejoin our group, we each returned to this huge outcropping before we headed to Del Borrachos for lunch.


Shell Canyon--2017
On January 26th, with 29 Loreto Bay Hikers, we proceeded in all wheel vehicles down Shell Canyon where we would hike up the Arroyo de Serpientes, most likely named for the twisty travels we took up the increasingly narrow canyon filled with seashell filled limestone up past two now dry waterfalls.  Perhaps it was also named for the many rattlesnakes, but we saw none.






Afterwards we had lunch and refreshments at the Almejas Concho Restaurant in downtown Loreto.  The clam choices were many and delicious as were the burritos.

Juncalito Sur Arroyo--2017
On February 21st, we had 21 Loreto Bay Hikers join us for the Juncalito Sur Arroyo hike.  



This time there was less water along the way.  Still the top two pools had enough fresh water for one of our hikers to enjoy a very short and brisk plunge.  



We stopped on the way back at the recently reopened Clam Shack where we discovered that we had left one couple behind that got lost and ended up hitchhiking back to the Clam Shack.  


Some communication confusion caused by an unsigned note left on the car of their driver caused this problem.  This gave us an opportunity to establish some better procedures regarding carpooling.


Jack and the Beanstalk Trail--2017
On February 9th, 21 Loreto Bay Hikers ventured by 4 wheel drive to the start of the Jack and the Beanstalk hike.  It was a bumpy but scenic drive up the arroyos. 


The hike took us through lush grasses, steep canyon walls and a drying up waterfall to the amphitheater.  














    

It was here where we got our first look at a magical fig tree with a very, very long “giant beanstalk” root.  


Look how small we are compared to this tree root.  

Once again Del Borracho’s became our go to place for food and refreshments.

Hart's Trail--2017
On February 16th we had 30 Loreto Bay Hikers enjoy a short, but steep hike the well maintained Hart’s Trail which started at Rattlesnake Beach just a short distance from the Escondido port. This is one of the few actual trails we have discovered.  Most of our hikes are rock hops up the arroyos.

 


Once the 30 of us got to the top—-about 550 feet above sea level, we had a fabulous view of the Escondido Harbor 




along with stunning views of de los Gigantes mountain range.  


We enjoyed a great time at the Clam Shack afterwards.

Emerald City Trail--2017
On the 23rd, 16 Loreto Bay Hikers enjoyed hiking the Emerald City trail.
  




We first passed by two rancherias with large herds of goats and assorted fruit trees.  We then passed by several waterfalls along the trail which must have gotten its name from the seaweed green lined streams and pools.  



The waterfalls and surrounding cliffs were spectacular and Harv was one of the brave ones to enjoy a brisk swim in the pool beneath the largest waterfall.  


Most of us were able to scramble up this waterfall area to see more smaller waterfalls and pools.



































Upon our return, we had lunch and refreshments at Del Borrachos.

Tabor Canyon--2017
For my last hike of the season on March 2nd, we had 19 Loreto Bay Hikers join me to explore our old favorite hike up Tabor Canyon.


While some stopped at the large pool, others climbed past the sketchy steep walls.  We then climbed up through a hole in the rocks and then scaled another narrow passage thanks to two lengths of frayed rope.  





After continuing up the canyon until 11am, the adventurous group returned and rejoined the others who had already gotten a head start on food and refreshments at the Clam Shack for a delicious but windy lunch.