When we launched we paddled the rest of the way around Salsipuedes and went back down the front side of Isla Las Animas. Like San Lorenzo, the southwest side of this island was also made of softer crumbly material that did not produce many caves or rock gardens. But we did find one wonderful sandstone cave that we fit both kayaks into. The water in this cave was so clear that it looked like the bottom was only a few feet beneath us. I tried to touch bottom with my 230 cm Greenland paddle and could not. Even when I held onto the tip of it and extended my arm as far underwater as I could reach while sitting in my kayak!
Our plan was to paddle down the southwest side of Isla San Lorenzo as far as we could get before 2:00 PM and then take the rest of the day off. This would bring us close to where we needed to be to make the crossing back to the main peninsula the next morning. But as we crossed the narrow channel between the islands, John brought up the subject of exploring the back side of San Lorenzo. We stopped for lunch and contacted Alberto again. He reported that the weather prediction was for the calm conditions to last another day, so we decided to risk the back side of San Lorenzo. Then we could return home saying that we had circumnavigated all three islands!
So we backtracked a few hundred meters and went over the narrow channel between San Lorenzo and Las Animas again. The tide was ebbing and water was rushing over the shallows between these two islands. Apparently the deep channel between San Lorenzo and the main Baja peninsula drains faster than the water on the far side of the islands, and some water rushes east through the channel. We could see rocks in the water and at the shallowest point I feared that my paddle blades would bang on the rocks. At this point the water looked like it was dropping over the edge and I also feared we would not be able to make our way through! But a few minutes of sprinting (not to mention shouting) and we were into calmer water. Around the top of the island the tide was with us again, pulling us along the back of the island.
To make it around the back side of the island and still get home in time we would have to paddle as far south as we could before stopping to camp. In the first few kilometers we saw several places to camp. John was watching the compass and was disturbed to notice that we spent a long time going straight east, away from our goal. When we finally turned southeast, the island had few good places to camp for a long time. This was doubly bothersome because it was the night of the highest tides of the month and we needed a good place to camp above the water. I suggested to John that since it was the night of the full moon, we could keep paddling into the night and go around the south end of the island and back up to one of the places we knew were easy to camp on. I also remembered that when Alberto had shown us books about the islands there had been a picture of Isla San Lorenzo that showed a large berm with a lagoon inside it. We hadnít seen this berm yet, so it had to be south of us. Eventually we had to run into it.
The sun went behind the steep cliffs of the island and we kept paddling. The sun still shone on Isla San Esteban east of us and we watched that for evidence of sunset. Occasionally a cloud would block the sun and make us think sunset had arrived. But then the cloud would lift, allowing the bottom of the island to light up again and making the top of the island look like it had been artistically dusted with coal black. The moon came up over San Esteban and sparkled off the water when the sun finally set. With the bright moonlight we figured we could keep going. But then the clouds moved in and occasionally blocked out the moon, suggesting that our plan of paddling around the island by moonlight might not work. Finally we saw a huge berm sticking out from the side of the island! The berm enclosing a lagoon that I remembered from the books!
As we paddled out to the end of the berm the sky behind Isla San Lorenzo got brighter. I half jokingly suggested that this was because we had paddled all the way around the island already and that was the remains of the sunset in the west. This turned out to be correct! We paddled down the south end of the berm looking for an entrance to the lagoon. There wasnít one, so either I was mistaken and had seen the lagoon on another island or the tide and storm waves had closed this one off. Rather than keep going we decided to land on the berm and look around. The waves were surprisingly large on the south end of the island, washing way up the berm here. We landed and pulled our boats way up the gravel. Then as we were about to go exploring a larger wave came and threatened to suck our boats back into the water! We decided to go exploring one at a time, leaving someone behind to watch the boats. What I saw on my exploratory walk was hundreds of thousands of square meters of gravel in a huge triangle. The outer edges of the triangle were berms piled ten meters high by tides and storm waves. Inside the gravel was lower but dry and showing no sign of recent water. Against the cliffs the berm dropped down to a shallower area with sand and marsh grass. The last remains of the lagoon?
The launch back into the agitated water on the south end of the island was exciting! I started high up on the berm and slid a great distance down to meet a wave coming up. I zoomed way out on the water before my boat slowed back down to cruising speed. Then we backtracked to the north end of the berm to land in much calmer water. We unloaded our boats and carried them to the top of the ten meter berm. They should be safe from tides up there! To protect them from being blown away by wind, we dragged a log over and tied the boats to that. I set up my tent behind the berm at the bottom of a valley in the gravel. John set his bivvy tent up in the sand at the base of the cliff. Before dinner, I lied down on the gravel and watched the moon disappear and re-appear from behind the clouds. They were racing south again, suggesting that the normal weather pattern was returning.