I noticed the archeologist on the Island Packers ferry, and I knew what he was there for. He and his team were going to excavate a recently discovered mammoth skull with tusks attached on Santa Rosa Island. The Channel Islands National Park was keeping its whereabouts under wraps to stymie any would be looters, but realistically who would make such an attempt? It’s not an easily accessible place to begin with, kayaking to this eroding canyon being the most viable option.
With a persistent drought hanging tough across a parched Southern California, all we wanted from our paddling trip was to find fresh water. I had paddled to this specific canyon on Santa Rosa Island several times in the past and it’s always been one of the more reliable water sources throughout the Channel Islands National Park.
There are a couple of other things about this particular canyon though that will take one back to the Pleistocene Era, but only if you arrive by paddle. Not that it’s the easiest place to kayak; there is a lot of exposure to the northwest where wind and swell can ruin a paddling trip around the islet. Broad offshore shoals extend at least a mile off the island, which can make it tricky for launching and landing, especially on the exposed north side of Santa Rosa.