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Caribbean Backcountry: Punto del Norte 3/26-3/29
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Eric Jahn-Clough
(ejcfree) - F

Locale: off grid
Caribbean Backcountry: Punto del Norte 3/26-3/29 on 04/01/2013 14:33:23 MDT Print View

I've not spent a night out since August. Between an extensive renovation of a home built in the 1850's on the cheap, the ever hectic adventures of residential disaster damage inspections, and heading south to help my mom after she took a tumble and broke her right arm, the opportunity has just not been there. I was happy when a window to be able to get out for a little opened. There is no possibility for real backpacking here, and little accessible undeveloped land. The week before Easter, Semana Santa, is when thousands arrive to camp on the beach and party spring break style. Being an enjoyer of lone wilderness I knew where to go.

I started onto the west coast after passing the leading edge of our advancing civilization and turned North.



A much appreciated overcast rolled in, helping to soften the sun and heat of my later than ideal start. Thankfully it stuck long enough to complete walking the rugged shadeless shore.




My goal was a small beach a couple of hours away. I set up camp, which consisted of a basic nylon hammock, and promptly took a nap. After waking I went swimming and explored the near area while awaiting the sunset and full moon rise.



In the morning I enjoyed a fantastic mango with some almonds. Then, just after the sun hit, I entered the water with my base weight trashing snorkel gear. There was a modest amount of movement from a small swell and also some suspended particles from the larger swell recently past, but conditions were reasonable. I was out for hours. The sea state was not even close to ideal for pictures with my point and shoot, but I had a little fun with it.



After the swim I ate an excellent avocado and due to last nights full moon took a nap. After that pleasure I gathered my camera gear and headed farther North towards a place I wanted to photograph in the afternoon light. I did not get there. I needed to enter the water to round one of the rocky points and the swell had come up a bit. The thick super prickly vegetation pretty much prohibits any inland travel.



In the morning I gave the rocky point passage another go only to the same end. I went back to camp, triple ziplocked some clothes and lunch, put those, my shoes and drinking water in a mesh snorkel bag and took to the sea. The only drawback being that I had to leave the nice camera and tripod behind. After a twenty minute swim I approached the shore reef in low visibility. Seeking a channel, only able see an arms length below and maybe six feet ahead, I was not pleased to find myself in a face off with a large barracuda. Not considered by me to be a real threat, I still did not want to be cornering one at close range. I backed off a little and it vanished into the swirling sand.


Leaving the water I took to the shore towards Punto del Norte. An objective hazard here is unexploded ordinance left from sixty years of heavy use by the USA as a live fire range ending in the seventies. The shore takes a severe pounding and the survival of a live shell in this zone seems unlikely. Still, I don't kick them. The other hazards are more natural, such as shifting rocks and waves. There is the near certain death by shredding if forced to go inland and then the critters. It is easy to find scorpions and tarantulas. There is another one that makes me nervous and keeps me thinking twice about sleeping on the ground in the open. A little side story here. My then woman friend and I were sleeping peacefully in our tent when I awoke with a start as she grabbed something off the pillow between our heads and threw it to the wall. I lit the headlamp to find a franticly scurrying 14 inch centipede, the Alacran.



I sat for a long while at the very end drinking the powerful space. I ate my orange and turned to go. Before the long scramble back along the sun blasted rubble I sought refuge in a shady salt spray dampened crevice and watched the surging ocean wear the rocks down for a bit.







After another long swim I found myself back home. Since I still had enough water and some food I decided to stay an additional night and avoid the baking hot afternoon walk back to town. I packed camp at dawn and after a short swim I made the walk down the shore in full shade. When I neared the end I had another really nice snorkel.




Edited by ejcfree on 04/06/2015 07:49:51 MDT.

Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Thank you on 04/01/2013 20:39:18 MDT Print View

An Excellent trip report. Thank you for sharing that. What a kick @#W sojourn. You're a lucky chap. Thanks again....... keep sending some in when and if you venture out! Ed

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Cool on 04/02/2013 07:53:26 MDT Print View

That's someting you don't see every day on BPL.

Thanks for the report!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: caribbean on 04/02/2013 08:30:50 MDT Print View

I enjoyed this very much. I was also amazed at how much the shoreline resembled my own stomping grounds on lake superior, at least until you went under water...

Thanks for a great report

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Caribbean on 04/03/2013 09:49:11 MDT Print View

Variety is the spice of life! The water looks really nice; I enjoyed the photos of the corals. Really nice trip, thanks for sharing.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Awesome on 04/03/2013 10:36:59 MDT Print View

Combining hiking with snorkeling sounds rad.

Eric Jahn-Clough
(ejcfree) - F

Locale: off grid
Re: responses on 04/05/2013 04:37:08 MDT Print View

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the report.
Take Care, Eric