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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Cave Kayaking

It was a beautiful day but the Pacific Ocean was choppy when I set out to kayak into the La Jolla Caves in Southern California. I had met a group of fit, older guys who knew how to find the entrance to Clam Cave, the largest of the seven La Jolla Caves. Luckily for me they were headed that way. Hurray, I could go with them!

I had kayaked before in lakes and rivers but this was my first kayak excursion into the ocean. After just a couple of tries I was able to propel my borrowed kayak from the beach through the head-high breakers, and out into the ocean bay. It was 2002 and I was in my early fifties so I still had the stamina I needed to paddle along with the group, although I suppose they slowed a little for me.

When we got to the cave, the waves were chaotically dashing up against the cave's entrance, but everyone else in the group disappeared into it without hesitation. I was disappointed because after paddling so far across the bay I did not think that I could figure out how to get into the cave through the chop. I paddled constantly to hold my place in the ocean outside the cave entrance. Then one of the men popped his kayak back out of the cave. He was in perfect control, his kayak cutting the waves without much movement. I asked him how to get into the cave. He said that he would time the waves for me, then he called out, "Go." I started but chickened out at the entrance. The waves seemed wrong for me, so I paddled back around into position to catch the next scramble of waves that pounded the entrance. At his next "Go!" I paddled fast, pulling deep under the ocean froth to control my kayak, and into the cave I went. One of the men inside the cave caught the bow of my kayak and finessed it away from a rocky protrusion. Inside the cave waves boiled up toward the ceiling. The group had crowded their kayaks into the cave's front chamber, bobbing up and down, paddling this side and that to stay off of the walls and each other. It was all much to energetic for me and so I pointed the nose of my kayak toward the light and let the next surge out take me.

I did not stick around for more. I had kayaked Clam Cave, and now I was content to steadily, happily paddle homeward. It is one of my funnest* memories.


* Funnest [adj.] is nonstandard for "most fun." It is not a word but it should be.

La Jolla Caves-internet sourced, non-commercial use 1 & 2



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