Over the weekend of February 27 – March 1, the six students in this spring’s ODAL 101 class traveled to Tomales Bay in Point Reyes National Seashore for a weekend of sea kayaking. They spent three days and two nights kayaking in the bay and beach camping. This is the class’s second expedition, following their Desolation Wilderness backpacking trip in late January.
The six students, joined by class instructor Daryl Teittinen, began their trip early Friday morning, departing from Sierra Nevada College at 6:00 a.m. and driving to Point Reyes National Seashore. Once there, they met their kayaking guide, Kenny Howell, and launched from Chicken Ranch Beach after learning basics on packing the boats and kayaking safety. The group spent the first day of sea kayaking enduring 30 mph winds and choppy waves all afternoon, until they reached Marshall Beach, their camping destination.
“The most challenging part of the trip was the first day. The wind was against us, the water was splashing up in our faces, my hands got really cold, and my arms were starting to get tired,” said Freshman Thacher Winot.
However, this difficult first day helped the students appreciate their next two days of kayaking, which included beautiful, sunny weather and calm waters.
“The 30 mph winds the day before helped me appreciate how good we had it,” said Sophomore Matt Garcia. “If we had good weather the whole time, it would’ve just been kinda lame. We had terrible weather the first day, and the second and third day we had great weather and it was like ‘Oh my god, this is amazing!’”
On Saturday, the ODAL 101 crew spent the morning learning how to flip a capsized kayak, and then paddled to Hog Island, where they saw seals lounging on the rocks. After exploring the island, the group paddled to White Gulch Beach and participated in a mid-day hike to McClures Beach on the Pacific Ocean.
“My favorite part of the trip was our hike to McClures Beach. I haven’t seen the Pacific Ocean before, and it was awesome to see the cliffs,” said Winot.
After soaking up stunning views of the Pacific, the group of eight paddled back to camp on Marshall Beach, cooked dinner, and spent the evening around the campfire.
“What’s so special about our class is our size – how small we are – and how close we were all able to get. When we talk at the end of the day about what went well what went badly, and what we thought of everything, it allows us to really open up to each other,” said Garcia.
On Sunday morning, the group packed up the kayaks and headed back to Chicken Ranch Beach. The students reflected on their experience and can’t wait for more expeditions to come.
“This class is like a reprieve,” said Garcia. “It allows you to really step back and get away from your other classes. When you go on the trips, you come back from them revitalized and reenergized. You feel like a better person, like a better version of you.”
“Being outdoors resets your baseline for what you truly need in this world,” said Junior Ryan Cornelis. “It reminds us we are way more capable than our minds will ever allow us to believe.”