What an interesting few days!! A labyrinth of mangroves with an abundance of White Egrets, stone cairns overlooking the ocean, and an unexpected hiking adventure teetering on the very exposed crest of a mountain range.
I’m sitting in our cockpit with the canvas windows completely open, listening to the gentle movement of water lapping at the sides of the dinghy. The sun has just set casting the most perfect orange glow on the mountain that we just traversed and now all that is visible as I look across the bay are the glimmering lights atop the masts of the boats all around us. This is a popular anchorage, for good reason. It truly is quite spectacular . The ‘hook’, as the anchorage is called, looks like the curved end of a hook with the barb abruptly jutting inward.
You have a long mountain range with one side gently sloping from the sandy beach up to a steep crest. The other side, however, is a sheer cliff with a crest that warns you not to get too close to it’s edge as it will break off into the void below you. When we decided to go for a walk on the beach and saw a trail zigzagging up the mountain side, we didn’t realize that we would be having that exact thought. Well, at least for me. Brent has more of the footing of a mountain goat. The trail led to a traverse that precariously paralleled the crest until it didn’t. By that, I mean that as the top got steeper and rockier we found ourselves bouldering over large exposed rocks looking down at the vastness of the ocean below. I started hearing the words in my head, “Focus Emily your legs are balancing well. You can trust your body to handle this experience”. The distrust for the capabilities of my body has been the biggest challenge of my long journey with an illness which led to a Parkinson’s diagnosis or as I’m going to start calling it “neuro-divergent”.
At the top, there was a little shrine with a statue of Mother Mary herself. Tucked into a crack, there was a journal to add your sentiments. When I opened the book, I opened it directly to the page where our friends, Jason, Sheya and Falcon, aboard SV- Red Witch made their entry a few days earlier. Making my entry, we continued along the crest eventually descending down the ridge line until a trail returned us to the beach. As we walked down the beach toward the dinghy, the unexpectedness of this adventure brought a joy to my heart that I’ve been missing for way too long. Later that night, some new friends, Henry and Paige, onboard SV-Oregon came over to socialize. They are a young couple, I’d say late 20’s on their first sailing adventure. It was a very pleasant evening getting to know them chatting about all of the life experiences and choices that occur in this lifestyle
As I closed my eyes into their slumber, I reflected upon the last few days of very different experiences. The day before, we were in an anchorage on Isla San Jose, an island just north of where we now are. Anchored in a deeper hole surrounded by a shallow shoal, we had heard about a labyrinth of mangroves that were interesting to explore on the dinghy. Mangroves are these scrub-like trees that grow their roots out of the sand and as the tides wax and wane, they go from completely buried under the water to sticking out of the sand. They become an estuary for all kinds of birds and tend to grow with many different side shoots that are great to sneak into to see where they lead to. We looked at the tides for the following morning so that as we entered the mangroves in the water we didn’t have to hike the boat out over sand.
The next morning we entered into a fairly large river. We started the exploration taking more narrow paths here and there that mostly ended a few hundred feet into the grove. Eventually we made our way to the far side of the river which opened into another large shallow bay on the other side of our anchorage. Strangely enough, as we took a land break on a saguaro topped hill, we were both reminded of the deserts of Arizona…without the ocean…obviously.
As we got back into our dinghy and continued on, we realized that the exploration was far from over. We headed down another offshoot and realized that this labyrinth expanded so much farther. This particular area nested more Great White Heron than I have ever seen. Thinking of my good friend Trish who as a birder and photographer would have been in her element, I took one photo after another. This bird photography thing takes a bit more practice than I thought and I only got one or two decent shots. Taking another shore break before heading back before the tide goes out, we added our own creation to a garden of cairns overlooking the deep blue of the sea. What a beautiful day!
A few days ago, I saw an interview with Matthew McConaughey where he asked his son what he hoped to get out of camp that summer. His reply was ‘I just want to meet new people and do cool things” I think that I concur.