Beaches of Baja 2019

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
The following trip report is the continuation of our trip planning thread called ROFs Extensive Exploration of Baja. When I wrote that title I really hoped to get further off the beaten track. But just before the trip was to start I sold my off road trailer and purchased a Aliner Ranger.
Despite the “Off Road Adventure Ready” sticker
on the trailer I knew it really wasn’t ready for much more than typical Baja gravel roads. So I have changed the title of this report to Beaches of Baja because that’s all we did was go from one beach to another.

I left my home December 23 and spent Christmas Eve in the high desert north of Flagstaff
and Christmas Day on the road. Arrived in El Centro, CA on the 26 where our small group met that evening for a great Mexican dinner. We had Jeff & Wendy with their dog Kuparr in a Jeep and DIrk and Laurie in a Land Rover. I was traveling with my dog Kenda in my 4Runner pulling the Aliner. We crossed the border about 9 am on the 27th. Somehow I got in the wrong lane that was for those needing to declare goods. So we all went through the X-ray machine, well our rigs, not us. Then we waited too long to find out what’s next. Then they sent just my rig through the X-ray again. Then they put a drug sniffing dog all over my rig and even inside of my trailer. We finally got cleared and on our way after an hour and 20’ . Looking back on this I believe that were doing a practice session with us as the guiney pigs.

First stop was Pete’s Camp to camp on the beach, have a good meal then later a great fire under the gad-zillion of stars.
Next day we fueled up in San Felipe and headed south. It wasn’t long before we began dodging potholes, lots of them. Then we came into stretches where many bridges were washed out with rough detours down through the washes.
We aired down and continued on to Papa Ferndez camp. The wind was howling by then and the grassy dunes gave us some shelter. Next morning we are back on Highway 5 which had more new bridges but the road bed was about the same as seen two years ago. We made a detour to go through Coco’s Corner. We stopped for an obligatory Pacifico. Coco had clearly aged some since I saw him two years ago. Motoring down Hwy 1 we crossed into Baja Sur as the sun was sinking. We knew we couldn’t make San Ignacio before dark so we spent the night in a hotel in Guerro Negro. To be continued in part two.


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Webe

New member
Seems strange seeing snow that far south. The more I see pics of the Baja makes me thing I should add that to my list for overlanding.
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Seems strange seeing snow that far south. The more I see pics of the Baja makes me thing I should add that to my list for overlanding.
They have 2-3 feet in Sedona right now. It’s not just latitude, it’s elevation too. Flagstaff sits at over 7000 ft.

I’m always telling folks if you want to see Baja go now.


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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Looks like a great time. My goal for 2019 it to make one of the epic ROF trip. @Ace Brown your location msg did make it, thank you. Although I did make it south twice in January but meeting up did not work.


The crowds this past weekend on the beach in Mexico.

View attachment 501196
It would have been nice to meet up, but then that beach would have been crowded.

Hope you can join in on one of our ROF trips. Watch our planning thread.

Ace


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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Part Two:

After a good breakfast in the hotel we again pounded the pavement down Highway 1 enroute to one of my favorite towns in Baja; San Ignacio. When we pull into the plaza it was very busy with very few parking spots. Usually it’s very quiet and sleepy and I’m wondering what’s going on when it hit me; Sunday morning services.
Next stop was Santa Rosalía; probably my least favorite town largely because of the sprawling dump on the north side of town. It’s usually burning and there is loose paper and bags blowing everywhere. However the view as you come into town from the south is much nicer.
I waited on the south edge of town while my companions toured the mission there that was designed by Eiffel, the same man responsible for the tower in Paris. Soon we see our first glimpses of Conception Bay which was our destination for a few days. We pulled into the beach at El Requezon to set up camp. The tide was in so we could not get to the sand spit out next to the island where I prefer to camp. There was an empty palapa on the north side of the beach so we made it our home. The wind was still high, now on day three, and we were getting hit hard there. We arranged the rigs to block some of the wind and proceeded to cook up our suppers in the palapa.
To be continued in Part Three.


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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Part three:

Next day we organized our regatta. One sit-on-top kayak (mine), one Folbot (Jeff & Wendy’s) and two inflatable kayaks (DIrk & Laurie’s). Once we all got rigged out, and note Jeff really getting down to the bottom of it
, we launched and went paddling. Our destination was Chili’s Restaurant a ways north along the beach. On the way we saw several small stingrays scoot out in front of us. We hoped to see porpoises but none were spotted that day. We did see lots of sea birds. Landing at Chili’s we each got our fill of lunch and drinks.
Stomachs satisfied we headed back south. I returned to camp while the rest of the flotilla paddled around El Requezon Island. One neat feature of this beach is the sand spit that divides the bay so if the water is choppy to the north you paddle south, of course visa versa is true.
That evening was New Years Eve so we celebrated with a nice fire on the beach, plenty of libations and Chinese lanterns. The star display again was simply amazing.

The next day DIrk & Laurie packed up and headed north to visit the whales and other points of interest on the way home. See their report titled: “Viva Baja! A Firstimer’s Baja Impressions”. Later in the day we had a visitor drop by our camp: Tim from Tennessee. A man I had met in Kentucky years ago. I was coming out of the bathroom at a campground when I see a pair of legs sticking out from under my Sportsmobile van. I’m thinking: did I run over someone? is he stealing my starter? What the? So we chatted a bit about our common interest in adventure travel and had kept in touch on line for about 15 years until we met again there. Tim fixed us great fresh-caught fish tacos and we all sat around visiting. Jeff and Tim eating, with Kenda watching hungrily.


Tim had to be back in Nashville in just a few days so he headed out early in the morning. The rest of our crew broke camp under cold, cloudy skies and the wind had returned. We headed back to quaint Mulegé for fuel and supplies, then reversed course to head back south to one of the more remote beaches below Conception Bay. At least it used to be pretty remote and seldom visited. The first time I went there was 2007 and the orders I got from the guy who told me it’s location were, “if you tell anyone I’m going to have to come and kill you.” This is me in 2007 driving my SMB where I shouldn’t have been.
But the word has spread (not me!), and now it’s on iOverlander and other forums. It is called San Basilio on most maps. Here’s one picture of it’s beauty.
More will be shown in Part Four.


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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Part Four:

The drive into San Basilio is always interesting. It’s about ten miles down a wash with mostly gravel and cobble surface, but the last couple of miles involve some steep hills on dirt roads that could be very treacherous when wet.
Not quite a year ago the group that owns the property closed the beach to vehicles. Now you have to set up camp in the brush behind the fence, though you can place a tent on the beach.
We arrived there January 2nd. Typical winter weather in Baja is calm in the morning and windy in the afternoon. This pattern dictates the day’s activities by allowing paddling in the early hours, but being beach bound in the afternoon. Rain in Baja is pretty infrequent but we had one long rainy day and night where we guessed the total at 1/2”. We all got out buckets to collect the precious fresh water. Most of the weather this year was colder, windier, cloudier and wetter than normal. We had happy hour at Whit & Jan’s camp each evening and most of us were layered up in down, long pants and boots.
Minimum temps were around 45*, but when that sun drops behind the horizon it gets cold fast. The views from the happy hour spot were excellent most evenings.
I’m going to have to cut this chapter short. To be continued in Part Five.


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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Part Five:

Ive always liked San Basilio and this time I stayed there for 32 days. I kept asking myself where I’d go that was better. The answer was always nowhere. Of course I’ve not been to every beach in Baja, no one has. Another issue with moving is the difficult part of dismantling and packing everything away. The longer I stay in one spot the more stuff comes out.


Not long after arriving I got out my inflatable stand up paddle board. It was slightly choppy and I was having trouble with my balance. Never fell off but it just felt uncomfortable. Next day I struggled paddling against a moderate breeze and decided to sell it. I taped a sign on it and within 30’ it was sold. The money was used for groceries and fuel in Loreto. In fact I never needed to withdraw any more pesos for the rest of the trip.

Days were fairly repetitious but still very enjoyable. Often paddled my kayak in the morning then rode my fatbike on the roads and hills behind camp, and often on the beach at low tide. I had installed some bigger tires just before leaving and found out I had some tire rub in the back. I worked on spoke tension trying to center the rim better, but it ended up out of true. Fortunately there was a bike shop owner camped nearby that they call “Fatbike Ron”. He had the wheel running true within a few minutes. He owns a bike shop in Seward, Alaska but shuts it down and comes to Baja for three months every winter.


Usually if someone is going to Loreto for supplies they often gets lists of things needed by other campers. The first time I did that, I came back loaded with propane, water, groceries and booze. No problem except that I hate shopping.

The happy hours were a big hit each evening. People would be coming and going fairly often so we got to meet many different folks and hear their stories. The boaters always had interesting tales to tell. One sailor came in with a beautiful catamaran which I got to go aboard and look it over. I had visions of me getting back into sailing and becoming a live-aboard. If I was 20 years younger.......

On one of our bike rides Kenda cut her foot quite badly. It healed cleanly but she limped around for several days. It was funny to watch her exaggerate the limp when anyone was around. Looking for some sympathy and attention. Of course it limited both of our activities while she healed.

One day we did a group paddle out to the Mercinarios Islands which are interesting rock spires and great rock hounding on the beaches. This was the longest paddle I did at 6.0 miles round trip and 3.5 hours of goofing off.


A new camper came in and set up next to me. Curt had retired from the Navy as a Chief Warrant Officer. I’m also a Navy vet so we had plenty of sea stories to exchange. He also spent a lot of time cooking so Kenda had her attention focused next door. She also helped with his dishes.

One day we watched a very interesting show. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) runs a sailing and camping program out of Mulegé . They had come into the bay for a few days and practiced sailing maneuvers each day. Normally they would sail on to Loreto but the windy forecast caused them to take out on our beach. They landed four boats and unloaded huge mounds of gear. Then they placed big boat fenders under the Lugers and rolled them up the beach and down the road for about 1500 yards. It took amazing team work to move those heavy boats fast and smooth. Next day they were loaded on trailers and gone back to Mulegé.


A couple of friends were coming in and asked via the InReach if I needed anything. So I said sure and ordered beer and tequila. This trip was the first time having my Garmin InReach satellite communication device. I’ll never again travel in the backcountry without it. Great tool!

We had several dogs with us on the beach and they all got along quite well. The queen of the beach was this small dog named Gypsie that belonged to Ron. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog with so much energy. Here she’s wearing out my Kenda.


I developed what I thought was another hernia so I reluctantly packed up and headed north. After four weeks there the goodbyes were heartfelt.

More in Chapter Six as I travel homeward.




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