musings of a budding social entrepeneur

Monday, May 09, 2005

Krazy kayak adventure part 1

Saturday morning, Howie, Amit and I departed for a wild winlderness adventure in tomales bay. We grabbed some coffee in the morning and headed out to pick up our kayaks from Blue Water Kayaks in Marshall. Having only been kayaking once before, Amit and I split a 2 man kayak with howie rockin a single. we packed tents, cooking equipment, a cooler full of food and beers, and a bottle of JD. the weather was beautiful on saturday as we hit the water lookin forward to an adventure ahead.

Took us about an hour to cross the bay. the wind was blowin us back and bit and we took our time gettin familiar with the controls of the kayak. how to paddle effectively in unison and how to steer the rudder. checked out a couple beaches before we decided on a perfect strip of sand to call our very own. there were a few other overnighters who had taken some of the beaches closer to the rental place, we waited until we happened upon one that all 3 of us were happy with, just about half a mile south of hog island on the western side of the bay. after unpacking and settling into our new digs, we commemorated our new home with a few beers, some cajun salami and some dubliner cheese. we chilled through the heat until about 4 when we headed back out to explore further north. there was an incredible amount of wildlife around us. seals would pop their heads up from under the water every once in a while. one of us would spot one out, call "seal!" and point in the direction of it. 9 times outta ten, it was a duck with it's head in the water, or a buoy, or a rock. but i gather altogether that we must have seen about 4 or 5 through the course of the day.

At first we headed north towards some white cliffs on the horizon. when we realized how far that was, we decided to check out hog island first. we were told that we could beach onto the western side, so we paddled up and got off to explore it. hog island was about i'd say an acre. there was a small beach that looked like it was underwater at high tide. most of the island was covered by some dead trees. we hiked up to where the trees broke and heard this totally insane and menacing noise coming from above. we looked up to see the tops of the trees were filled with nests, and that in each was a large dark bird that we later found out were cormarants.
when we approached the nesting area, they called out to scare us off. the sound was the weirdest sound i ever heard coming from an avian species... you know the sound that your vocal chords make after a bender? when they're all dried up from the smoking and dehydration? when each vibration comes out as a small cracking noise? well, imagine that sound 20 times louder and 10 times slower and you get the idea of what these things sounded like. we stepped away from the nests and back onto the beach and scanned the treetops to discover even more birds had flown in since we beached. altogether i'd say there were over a dozen large bird species there. from turkey vultures, to ducks, to blue herons, and beyond. it was really cool.

we hopped back into our kayaks and continued on towards the white cliffs that we were heaqed to earlier. the cliffs were eroded from the water and kind of resembled limestone, except not as porous. at the highest point, i'd say they were maybe 50 feet. i posited that they were maybe granite, but what the hell do i know about rocks? the water had created interesting patterns and formations into the stone. in some parts, deep moss had grown over the stone and completely carpeted it in a layer of grass. but here and there the smooth face of the rock would peep through. a lot of the moss covering the stones was a bright greenish. but some stone was covered in a bright orange algae/moss that we wondered about. did the moss turn orange due to some minerals and metals that were sucked up from the stone? below the tideline the rock had formed some underhangs,and i noticed there were tunnels that formed through years of erosion. one of the tunnels was deep and high enough to walk into. amit and i got a little closer and i jumped out to explore it.. didn't get too far before realizing there wasn't much in there. and that i was too chicken shit to get too deep :)

further past the cliffs was a deep cove that opened up into a green hillside. we saw some tule elk grazing on the grass and sat quietly as we watched them skitter away. next we decided to head back to the campsite and found some more interesting discoveries on the way. howie had noticed that under the water line, there were a ton of starfish clinging to the rocks. bright orang, deep purplish-brown, and some bright yellow. all of them had little white specs covering their bodies. they were everywhere along the rock, some of them above, but most of them below water. we saw more of the bright orange colored stones. as we proceeded south we noticed some large driftwood sitting on the rocks. getting closer, we discovered that it wasn't actually driftwood, but he remains of some large animal. at first we thought maybe it was some kind of elk, but then realized it was much bigger than that. maybe a cow or a buffalo or something we thought next. then as we got closer, we realized that what we were looking at was the vertebral column of something larger. the individual vertebrae were about a foot wide, and what we recognized as ribs seemed to be as long as 3 feet. what we thought we recognized as washed away skull was actually a pelvis that was maybe a yard wide, with the long horn looking things coming out of it that were actually leg bones. here's a link to a picture of what we saw. whale skeleton. we noticed that there was actually some fleshy blubber still attached to one area of the bones. there were flies buzzing around it... yuck.

After our trip, after doing some research online, i concluded that what we originally though was a skull and then thought was a pelvis, actually WAS a skull.

I scolded myself for not bringing my camera with me and amit and i decided to come back early the next morning with a camera to capture the whale on film.

We got back to camp at about 6 and chilled for a bit before deciding to try to hike up the hills, west towards the ocean. We huffed it up the hill for close to 40 minutes before realizing we had a much longer way to go before reaching the peak. the view from where we were was spectacular. we must have climbed up a good 300 feet in altitude. we could see the entire bay and beyond from there. we sat and chilled in a cypha before heading back down to camp for dinner.

as we busted out the kitchen equipment, we started to feel some drops of rain. we put together a makeshift fort from some tent rope, the paddles, and a brown tarp to cover us while we cooked. amit fired up howies brand new camping stove and i panfried several ribeyes and warmed up some grilled zucchini for dinner. after dinner we broke out the jd and got down to the heavy drinking. don't really remember too much after that. at one point i recall totally baffling the two of them with the 3 red hat riddle. i think we must have passed out at about midnight.

i'll tell the 2nd half of the story later.
it gets better.


  • At 9:30 AM , Blogger amit said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9:33 AM , Blogger amit said...

    nice work christian... it's like i was there with you!

    dood, you're totally right, that was the skull. holy shit! we should still go back and get that picture.

    btw, here's the only 2 pics i got before i put the digital camera back in the car (they're big):

    pic 1

    pic 2

  • At 2:41 PM , Blogger sfXian said...

    did you notice that on that cormorant link there's a audio sample for what they sound like?

  • At 1:43 PM , Blogger Pig Butt said...

    what a crazy adventure.


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