Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 5 - Walk on the Wild Side

After morning boat chores, the dingy was launched for trip to the frigate bird colony and later a desert hike to Playa Bonanza, a desolate stretch of pristine beach on the east side of the island.
Bahia San Gabriel cove harbors a mangrove forest on both ends of the beach and, on the southern tip, a large inland lagoon with a frigate nesting colony. The frigates seemed to prefer the rocky spit that enclosed the lagoon from the bay, providing them with water on all sides and easy access to fishing in the bay. Because the waterline meets the edge of the mangroves, I was able to photograph the birds right from the dingy, up close and personal, without disturbing them.

The trail to Playa Bonanza was nearby so after beaching the dingy we started out on the 2½ mile stretch of desert to the opposite side of the island. As we hauled the dingy through the knee-deep water on the shallow beach shelf, a great photo opportunity presented itself so I reached into my camera bag. Keeping my eyes ahead and locked on my subject, out came my camera and then a sickening 'plop' as one of my lenses hit the salt water. I quickly sprinkled a bit of drinking water on it, repacked it and vowed never to grab camera equipment carelessly out of that bag again. Later, the lens will be buried in uncooked rice for awhile - I can only hope for the best at this point.

It was pretty easy finding a trail of sandy footprints leading into the cactus desert – a number of them led from the beach area and soon they converged on what appeared to be the most traveled path. The sand was littered with worn shells of many varieties and to see them scattered under cactus and desert scrub was an odd sight. It’s not everyday you find oyster shells next to Saguaro cacti.

Playa Bonanza
The floor of the valley rose at a slight incline toward our destination and it seemed like we never got closer.  It was midday now, with a tiny bottle of water and I wished I had thought to bring food.  Finally over the pass and a sweeping view of a beautiful deserted Bonanza beach opened before us. We had walked over one hour so reluctantly we turned back without completing the trek all the way to the shore.

The trail going back was tricky.  Many dead end trails had us turning around or zigzagging in the general direction back to our beach. It was late afternoon when we got back to the Compass Rose and that glass of fresh water never tasted so good.

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