Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy Anniversary to us - and a hill to climb

[Kyle]Mezteño has a trail leading up to a viewpoint overlooking our previous anchorage - Caleta Partida. We decided to make our anniversary fun by going for a hike. (I know, but there are no B&Bs or romantic restaurants to choose from, so we decided to pretend we had been dropped off at a romantic beach for a hike)

In order to avoid the mistakes of the past, we got up so early that we were already walking away from the beached dinghy at seven o’clock. The trails here aren’t really trails. They just head straight up the arroyos, probably because the flow of water has already cleared away most of the brush. What remains is a field of boulders of various sizes to traverse. This makes the going very slow. It is necessary to concentrate fully on the next three steps. Only every now and then, when we would find a nice, flat, stable rock, could we briefly stop. Then we could look up and scout the next section of trail and enjoy the view before resuming staring at our own feet. Initially, there were a series of cairns to mark the way, but as the trail progressed, they gradually thinned out to nothing.

We didn’t really know what to expect from the Mezteño trail. I was hoping we would be back to Begonia by mid morning, but as we progressed, it became more and more apparent that that was not going to be the case. The trail went on seemingly forever. It turned out that the trail in Ensenada Grande would have been a good warm up trail for this one. We kept getting to where it looked like we just had one more curve of the arroyo to negotiate. When we got to the end of that, there would just be even more. We would arrive at yet another vista of a thousand more boulders to traverse. It did this over and over again until we both just wanted it to be over. We could see the ridgeline. We were just below it, but it just seemed to parallel us on our climb.

One little diversion from the relentlessness of our climb came when I came around a corner and spotted a little ball of fur. In front of me stood an adorable little animal that looked like 50% mongoose, 50% raccoon and 50% fox. It sounds like a kitten mewing, of which it is also 50%. When these two creatures saw me, rather than spooking and diving for the nearest hidey-hole like the lizards do, it actually got curious and came closer to see what I was. For a second, it looked like it might want me to pet it. {Maryanne: later research identified it as a Ring-Tailed Cat - a member of the raccoon family}

The ring-tail cat was a great distraction on an otherwise tough hike

Don’t tempt me. I’m the guy who has patiently embarked on a twenty-year mission to befriend Jonesey, our friend Kate’s cat. She and her husband Mark are saints for raising her into old age despite the fact that she’s made it clear that she hopes to outlive them so she can feast on their remains.

Two things kept me from doing it: The thought of the infamously painful treatment for rabies being administered in a Mexican hospital (“What!? $10!?”) AND the fact that I have never seen a chupacabra (or have I?).

It studied us for a bit and then wandered off, completely unconcerned. It’s a good thing. If it had come any closer, I would have had to adopt it. That would likely have caused problems with Customs at the next port, “Well, officer, I don’t know what it is either, but it’s really soft and it likes to be scratched behind the ears. Its favorite foods are scorpions and cactus needles and possibly the tears of orphaned children.”

Back to the trail: Eventually, and quite irritatingly, it ended with a natural Do Not Enter sign made by cactus and other thorny things growing in a completely impenetrable semi-circle across the trail. By then, we had been boulder scrambling for three hours and we were in no mood to just turn around and go back. We had been looking forward to a rest and lunch. Maryanne backtracked a little and then scouted a path up the steep rocks to the top. Well, this isn’t crazy. Up we went.

Ahh - but the view made it all worthwhile

At the top, we got the sweeping view we had been hoping for. The Caleta Partida anchorage was WAY down there. We could see all of the way across the Bay of La Paz to the Baja mainland. We rested for a bit and then got on with the dreaded business of getting back down.

It was exhausting work, which caused our balance and dexterity to suffer, which we had no choice but to compensate for by slowing down. That made everything take longer. The canyon walls, which had shaded us on the way up, were now the sides of the big Mexican solar oven. We were so glad we started early. We never could have made it both ways through it. When we finally arrived back at the beach, we both just marched past the dinghy and waded up to our knees in the cool water. Back at Begonia, we both needed a swim before we could even stand in the shadow of the bimini.

Back at the boat we supped wine and enjoyed the show.

In the evening, to get us back into Anniversary mode, we opened a bottle of wine and went out on the trampoline to watch the stars come out and reflect on the years we have spent together. The rays were putting on a fireworks show of loud splashes and it was hard not to feel like we were having the most special Tuesday night of anyone. I guess being married has worked out for us pretty well so far.

We slept in as long as we wanted the next morning. Once we were out of bed going about our morning routines, a dinghy came around the corner from Caleta Partida and landed on the beach. We watched as the two occupants pulled their boat above the high tide line and then disappeared up the trail without packs. It was ten o’clock and it was already starting to get hot.

I don’t want to wish anybody will fail, but I was hoping they would give up before they got too committed. After they had been gone for a couple of hours, I realized that, as the last people to see them alive, we probably had some sort of moral obligation to mount some kind of rescue effort.

I was just starting to figure out how late I could leave and still cover a reasonable portion of the trail before it got dark when they reappeared on the beach. They hadn’t been gone long enough to get to the top, much less get back. They weren’t staggering and didn’t skip their dinghy for a soak. When they went by, they refused our offer of cold drinks. Apparently, they just wandered around for a bit, decided the trail looked too tough and gave up. You can do that?

No comments: