Arroyo Verde to Punta Pulpito, April 4th 2007.

In the morning we all paddled around into the cove in front of Arroyo Verde. We still had hope that the large building there was a hotel and we could buy water there. There were people standing out on the reefs fishing and I paddled up to talk to them. Every other person there turned out to be a Gringo (perhaps each with their own private local guide) and they were reasonably friendly. (Although one of the Mexicans had a 22 rifle, for shooting fish I hoped). I asked them what this place was and they simply told me what I already knew: “San Sebastian”. But what is it I asked? A town? A hotel? Does it have a market? Can we buy water here? “No.” I was told, “This is a Private Cove”. I thought that was a very strange way to put something, but I didn’t comment on it. It turns out that Baja has laws that say no one can own land within 20 meters of the mean high tide line. (I think this is a very good idea and wish my country had such a law). One of the side effects of this is that you can camp on almost any beach in Baja. I saw articles (in English) about how this had recently been tested and confirmed in court. I’ve also heard stories about people being fined for building private facilities like saunas and hot tubs closer than 20 meters to the water. It is reasonable to say that a building is private, that an arroyo is private but it is legally impossible to say that a beach is private and makes no sense at all to say that a cove is private. But I didn’t contest the statements of my “private cove owners” and just pumped them for more information. They told me the only place to buy water was the nearby town of San Nicolas. We already knew this and it was our goal for the morning. We had only vaguely hoped to save some time by stopping at San Sebastian.

We continued on down the coast, which was very low and not all that interesting. So we shaved off a little time by cutting across Bahia San Nicolas directly towards the town where I had a GPS waypoint to lead the way. On the topo maps the town surrounds a small lagoon. The lagoon was closed off from the sea by a berm and it was difficult to tell when or if we had made it yet. There were also several other fish camp communities on the shore on the way to confuse us. I asked a passing panga fisherman where San Nicolas was and he pointed to the beach and shacks all around us. We landed and confirmed that we were directly in front of the lagoon.

Doug Hamilton walked down to the nearest shack and talked to the locals. They told him that the market was out of sight up the side of the lagoon. They offered to give us a ride in their truck when they went to town “in a couple of minutes”. This dragged on for some time and I suggested to my friends that we would rather get a ride back from town with heavy water-bags than into town with light ones. So Doug negotiated this with the locals. Doug, Kate DesLauriers, Don Fleming and Andrea Wolf walked up the road to find the market while Herb Howe and I watched the kayaks. Eventually the kayakers came back down the arroyo carrying the heavy water-bags since “a couple of minutes” had apparently not passed yet.

The water that we bought at San Nicolas came out of a hose out off a well. We decided to treat it. Some people had iodine tablets and vitamin-C to kill the taste. Water that we used for cooking that was boiled first was OK without iodine. For the rest of the trip Kate and I used her untreated water to cook with and I supplied drinking water from the desalinator for both of us.

After a drink and a snack (Andrea bought chocolate covered “Mammoths” from the market as a treat for everyone) we continued along the coast. We paddled up to Punta San Antoino where the shoreline became rocky and interesting again. Here I found a cave to poke into and took a self portrait over my shoulder from the inside of the cave. Unknown to me until I saw the picture later, you can see an island behind my head. This is Isla San Idelfonzo and I would paddle around that island the next day.

All day we could see a large lump of rock ahead of us. This was Punta El Pulpito, a tall point that was visible even over the top of lower Punta San Antonio. Between the two points was a large cove that had several visible roads and building in it. Looking for a more secluded wilderness experience we headed directly across the cove. Punta El Pulpito is reputed to be a difficult point to round in a motor boat, sailboat and especially in a kayak. Rumor has it that kayakers have died trying to get around this point in bad weather. But we had perfectly calm weather as we approached and had a wonderful time getting up close and personal with it. The point is made of several different types of rock that rise to different heights. The tip of the point is a very hard rock that rises vertically from the water with two arches in it. One arch had deep water in it and we all paddled through that. The other arch looks like the trunk of an elephant curving down, but did not have enough water to paddle through. Perhaps at high tide it does.

Behind Punta El Pulpito we searched for a beach described to me by Penny Wells. She told me that there was a long beach with pea-sized gravel. If you walked along this beach in bare feet you would find an area that was warmed by geothermal heat coming from below. Holes in the gravel near high tide would fill with warm water and sleeping bags positioned in trenches higher up would stay warm all night without a tent. That is what we were looking for but we never found it.

The long beach behind the point was not made out of pea-gravel but large half-meter boulders of sharp broken granite or basalt. The next couple of beaches were small and did not match the description. Finally we gave up and settled in for the night on a pocket beach a mile south of Punta El Pulpito. A large pod of dolphins swam by near the point and some of them jumped up out of the water to put on a show for us!

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