Baja, Santa Rosalia to Loreto,March 24th to April 13th 2007.

The farther south I have paddled on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja the more discouraged I have become with the developed state of the shore. I had even thought that I didnít need to go any farther south than where I last landed at the town of Santa Rosalia. But several people convinced me that there was still some wild shoreline to see in this area and I decided to plan another trip to fill the map in a little farther south.

From the maps I thought that Bahia Concepcion looked like a beautiful place to go. But Don Barch warned me that the inside of the bay was lined with RVs and vacation homes. He said the beautiful part of Concepcion was the shore on the outside of the peninsula that creates the bay. Scrolling around on Google Maps convinced me that Don was right. The west shore of the bay was especially crowded and you could see the rows of houses on every sandy beach. The east shore was less crowded but had a low bluff with few beaches. Not the sort of place I expected to enjoy paddling. The outer shore around Punta Concepcion looked stunning in the satellite pictures, with cliffs, reefs and inviting beaches between rocky points. Also from space you could see the foundations of an old mining town that was mentioned on the topographic maps as being abandoned. I decided to arrange to stop for an extra day in this area to explore the old town.

I wanted to open this trip up to kayakers who are not as gonzo as I am. Many people like to kayak for a day or two and then sit around and relax on a beach. So I planned this whole trip to have short paddles, typically only 12 miles a day, with layover days every third day or so. But I had a secret plan for myself. I planned all the layover days to be at places where there was an island or a mining town nearby to explore. So the laid back paddlers got to sit on a beach and I got to paddle almost every day if I wanted to.

I did the usual staging of my organization for the trip. I was packed and ready to go the Thursday morning before we left. I went to work and continued south after work. I picked up Kate DesLauriers on my way and stopped in Vallejo to pick up Don Flemingís kayak. I didnít have room for him in my truck, but he would drive down the next morning with Andrea Wolf and Herb Howe. They had room for Don but no room for an extra kayak on their roof rack. Kate and I continued to Doug Hamiltonís house in San Diego and crashed there after loading Dougís kayak and all his gear.

In the morning we left early and drove south to Encendada. We met Andrea, Don and Herb for lunch on I5 on the way, stopped at the border to get tourist cards and made it to our favorite taco restaurant in Encenada. We made it in time to do some shopping in the Gigante Super Mercado before retiring to my favorite hotel in Encenada.

We got an early start by skipping breakfast and stopping for that at Andreaís favorite restaurant in San Quintin on the way. We stopped at the Shrine of the Virgin in Catevena, but I did not have any spare Cheap Plastic Magnetic Glow-in-the-Dark Virgins for everyone else on this trip. In fact I could not find the one I brought for myself. Don assures me that just having it in the back of the truck somewhere was close enough to get it charged up again at the shrine.

We had hoped to make it to Santa Rosalia by dark but it was late when we arrived at the oasis town of San Ignacio. None of us knew a good hotel in Santa Rosalia and I did know one in San Ignacio so we decided to go to ground then. It turned out to be a good decision because the sun set and it suddenly became dark in the middle of the desert. If we had continued we would have driven into the dark and arrived late.

The next morning it was a short drive to Santa Rosalia. Andrea talked to the people in the bus station about schedules. We drove to an RV park in nearby San Lucas that Andrea had launched from before. There we dropped off all the kayaks, gear and most of the kayakers. Andrea and I rushed to drive off to beat the bus schedule. We drove south to Loreto, a town that Andrea knows well. However, they were tearing up the streets and she had trouble finding her way. We blocked traffic to ask directions and a police car came by to see what was going on. Instead of hitting us up for a bribe like a Tijuana cop would do, these policemen offered to give us a police escort to the RV park where we wanted to leave our cars! By the time that was arranged we had only 15 minutes to get to the bus station so we called a taxi to take us there. Then the bus was 45 minutes late and we could have taken our time. The bus also stopped for over an hour in Mulige for the driver to have dinner. It was after dark before the bus finally dropped us off at the RV park in San Lucas. There our friends had held dinner until we arrived. Finally we were all collected in one place to start the kayak trip. All we had to do was paddle south for about two weeks to connect back up with our cars.

All text and images Copyright © 2007 by Mike Higgins / contact