Exploring the Northern Half of Isla San Esteban, April 8th 2004.


We got up late and took our time getting packed. I had time for a nice breakfast (egg tortillas with sausage, cabbage, cheese and red sauce). We paddled north to the northwest tip of Esteban. It's pretty close to a square shaped island in outline, aligned with the compass. We rock gardened across the north face. Down the east face the shore was not as interesting at first and we sped up. Our goal was a beach with a large arroyo that goes more than of the way across the island. As we approached the beach we saw a huge rock on the end of a spit, a feature that does not show up on the topo map of the island! Next to the rock was a huge boat, like a small cruse ship. It picked up a smaller boat as we approached, then roared off to the Mexican mainland before we could get close enough to talk to them. There was an American flag on the stern of the boat, but a Mexican one behind the bridge.

The beach in front of the arroyo turned out to be cobble and shallow, not a great place to camp. It was also covered with sea gull nests, which I wouldn't mind disturbing so much as I mind the gulls screaming at me all day and night. We searched back and forth and settled on the north end of the beach which has some gravel and isn't too close to a gull nest. (In our opinion, the gulls may have another). Actually, the closest gulls were not as noisy as others we have slept near, perhaps they didn't want to attract us to the nests.

Roger and I went for a walk up the arroyo. There were a lot of footprints in the gravel left there by the tourists from the cruse ship. Or perhaps left here by herpetologists studying the chuckwalla iguanas unique to this island. As we walked into the center of the island the breeze died down and it became stiflingly hot. We decided that there was no reason to hike all the way across the island and climbed up a series of cinder cones to get some views of the arroyo ahead and behind. On our way back we saw an endangered yellow Chuckwalla, a type of iguana that only lives on this island! Roger finally got to see one!

That evening the crew mutinied.

During the terrible paddle the day before, Don had problems with the seat of the Tsunami double he was paddling with Joe in back. Don's abs and legs became so exhausted that he could not sit up to paddle. He and several others were unwilling to continue on any more crossings towards the mainland. I countered that I also hate crossings but was willing to do them to get to interesting places. One of the objections was that to make it to the mainland and back again would require several 30km days. These "long" paddles had been in the float plan all along but caused consternation now. For me 30 kilometers is not a long day, especially if most of it is spent exploring an interesting shoreline. I suggested shortening the trip, just doing one more crossing and exploring the southern coastline of Isla Tiburon before going back. The mutineers were not interested. Roger was the only one that wanted to go on at first and he wanted to reach the goal of getting to the mainland. The two of us started sorting equipment to do this by ourselves, and Dave decided to join us.


All text and images Copyright © 2004 by Mike Higgins / contact