The spirit of Baja

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That morning, as with most, I woke before dawn, stumbled down to the Sea of Cortez to find a dead dolphin washed ashore. Not long after approaching the dolphin for further inspection I was joined by a pack of curious and territorial coyotes from the neighboring desert hills.

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We quickly came to the agreement that the Pastor tacos were the way to go while crossing through the interior of Baja.

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Criss-crossing the Baja 1000 course we were given endless dirt roads to explore as the sun dropped to the west of the Sierra San Pedro Martir Mountains.

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On our way south along the Sea of Cortez, we took a moment to practice our sand skills.

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Well, we need more practice…

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Arriving at Alfonsina’s we made friends quickly with Dan, our neighbor along this beach campground. He and his wife spend most of the winter in this very spot catching their dinner daily. He has it figured out.

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Escaping the Colorado cold for warm, slow sunsets was a good decision.

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Few things in life satisfy like a fire dug into the cool sand along the sea.

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The Bay of Los Angeles might have been one of the most stunning places to spend the night. The dynamic geographical diversity overwhelmed and inspired.

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Very rarely do I get the opportunity to use the word “isthmus”. We camped on an isthmus and were hard pressed to find a bad view in any direction.

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The beauty of motorcycle camping is the constant challenge to prepare a delicious meal with the bare essentials. Thanks to some great support we had just what we needed and those simple meals were divine.

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Captain Ahab having a late night pipe smoke under a blanket of stars.

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Moto camping at its best along the Sea of Cortez.

 

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No sense in wasting time. We came here to ride. Off at sunrise.

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The tide brought in a small channel of water necessary to cross as we leave our campsite in the bay of LA.

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Layers of terrain punctuated by the lone coyote at sunrise.

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They’re just dirtbikes, right?! Adam and I taking turns to see who can get the most air. We could stack credit cards under those tires…

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Mision San Borja dates back to the mid 1700’s and is situated in a valley of rough cactus and wheel bending stones but worth a visit indeed.

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Who needs a grill when you have a fire and river stone!? Cooking rustic tacos on a pacific beach.

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The calm warm waters of the Sea of Cortez now behind us we meet the cold, windy pacific in its otherworldly expansiveness.

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“Yeah, just go that way and ask for Jorge in the pink house. He has gas” says the lady in the market in Santa Rosalillita. Well Jorge wasn’t home and we were directed to go south down the beach leading us into some insane sand and a few river mouth crossings. Eventually, we made it back to the highway and I proceeded to negotiate the purchase of fuel stored in gallon jugs. It got us on our way.

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The novelty of extremely deep ruts of fluffy silt eventually wore off when we crested a ridge with nothing but that in sight. But practice makes perfect (and a few cracked ribs for my amigo).

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Adam is good at modifications.

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At this point in the day (my birthday) things were getting a bit “real”. Adam had a few cracked ribs, sprained ankle, no windscreen, my pannier was strapped on my rear seat and my skidplate missing,, we were wiped from trudging through deep silty ruts along the Baja 1000 course and only finding reprieve along the narrow cow trails covering us in cholla cactus. We made the executive decision to bivouac here in the middle of the trail before we made a silly mistake. We rationed out water and snacks and rested for the next day to make our way out of the Cirious Valley. One of most epic birthdays to date!

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It was an absolutely beautiful day as we followed signs out of the valley in search of some coffee and gasolina.

 

Check out more of Stephen’s fantastic photography on his website, and Instagram account.

You can also take a look at his partner in crime Adam McCarty, who took photographs on this trip as well. Adams Instagram account.


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Stephen Smith is an Agrarian, Adventure Travel and Lifestyle photographer.Growing up in North Carolina in an active family he spent most of his developmental days outside exploring the family farm, woods, streams and lakes of this bio-diversifed Southern landscape. Stephen received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado while finding time to ride mountain bikes, camp, fish and snowboard. Five months on a solo motorcycle adventure through South America piqued his interest in farming, grape growing and winemaking leading him to Napa, Ca where he got his hands dirty working for boutique wineries and vineyards. In 2012, he moved back to Colorado to work as the Director of Business Development for the first Organic distillery in the US and only Biodynamic vineyard in Colorado. Half a year on a 90,000 acre cattle ranch opened Stephen's eyes to large scale land management, animal husbandry as well as agricultural and economic diversification.