Salsipuedes Canyon by Fatbike

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woody with a view - 3-25-2014 at 08:13 PM

looks like he's going for salsipuedes. if he makes it to there it looks fairly easy downhill.

i wonder how close the spot actually reports your location? seems weird he went over those hills at #7 or does it show a line between points?

DosMars - 3-25-2014 at 08:14 PM

Looks like he's got his sights set on a new route into the main canyon...

DosMars - 3-25-2014 at 09:50 PM

It doesn't show the true route over ground, just connects the dots between spot hits. He'd have to send out coordinates more freequently to give a better sense of the actual route he took to get there.

Tuesday Evening Camp

David K - 3-25-2014 at 11:46 PM

Sure looks like he's elected to head for Salsipuedes over the La Botica route! Best of luck!!!

mcnut - 3-25-2014 at 11:57 PM

All of us armchair adventurers should have chipped in to set Mark up with tracking, maybe even a sat phone rental for updates.


[Edited on 3-26-2014 by mcnut]

DosMars - 3-26-2014 at 04:51 AM

Since Mark's probably going to be the first person to explore that branch of the Salcipuedes drainage today, does that mean he gets to name it?

larryC - 3-26-2014 at 07:43 AM

Originally posted by DosMars
Since Mark's probably going to be the first person to explore that branch of the Salcipuedes drainage today, does that mean he gets to name it?

What? Mark is nowhere near the first person to explore that drainage. ESG did it in 1960, I did it in '04 and it was done again in 2010. I'm sure there have been countless others to do it that I have never heard of. But he can still name it whatever he wants. I did.
PS Hot dry west winds yesterday, hope he found some shade, really hot out in the sun.

[Edited on 3-26-2014 by larryC]

2002maniac - 3-26-2014 at 11:49 AM

What's the link to his SPOT page?

woody with a view - 3-26-2014 at 11:57 AM

it's on page 16.

woody with a view - 3-26-2014 at 12:00 PM

at this rate he'll be at the beach Friday.....

JohnMcfrog - 3-26-2014 at 03:13 PM

More photos:

Pictograph at Montevideo

Mark and Cardon

Mark ready to go at first dry lake bed

At the end of the 2nd dry lake sorting gear to stash temporarily

One last pictograph

JohnMcfrog - 3-26-2014 at 03:48 PM

GE Image of gpx track file from my garmin 301:

Point 008 is a waypoint at the junction between the wash going East to Bahia Guadalupe (Mark says it is about 50 minutes by car from this point) and to the left is the start of the 2nd lake bed.

Point 009 is a waypoint at the end of the second dry lake, where we stashed his stuff. This is where he began his reconn last time.

Neal Johns - 3-26-2014 at 04:55 PM

Well, he is off and running. Looks like (Spot) he camped for the night 15 minutes ago 100 yards past the junction and is in the main Salsipuedes Canyon going downhill. 29.35683, -113.96165

[Edited on 3-27-2014 by Neal Johns]


David K - 3-26-2014 at 05:50 PM

Sal Si Puedes= Get Out IF YOU CAN! Not for a real determined Nomad, who is following the lead made by Erle Stanley Gardner over 50 years ago... but without motorized trail bikes or helicopters!

The book that had inspired many to see Salsipuedes, in person:

Skipjack Joe - 3-26-2014 at 06:12 PM

Originally posted by DosMars
Spot #3 must have been as far as he could ride, & spots #4 & 5 where he hop-scotched lugging his gear up to the top of the saddle.
How hot is it in that neck of the woods right now? I'd bet he's going to be going through his water at a quicker pace.

Really surprised he chose that route. Carrying his bike and all those supplies up that mountain (pts 3-6) must have been a herculean task.

DosMars - 3-27-2014 at 05:31 AM

Sorry for the confusion, should have been more clear that I was referring to the route he took in into the canyon through that feeder branch of the drainage. Not the drainage itself.
No disrespect intended towards everyone who's explored this area before Mark, just super stoked that he's doing it now!

Originally posted by larryC
Originally posted by DosMars
Since Mark's probably going to be the first person to explore that branch of the Salcipuedes drainage today, does that mean he gets to name it?

What? Mark is nowhere near the first person to explore that drainage. ESG did it in 1960, I did it in '04 and it was done again in 2010. I'm sure there have been countless others to do it that I have never heard of. But he can still name it whatever he wants. I did.
PS Hot dry west winds yesterday, hope he found some shade, really hot out in the sun.

[Edited on 3-26-2014 by larryC]

woody with a view - 3-27-2014 at 05:25 PM

looks like he's settled in for the night! he's swimming tomorrow by the looks of it.

DosMars - 3-27-2014 at 07:39 PM

Looks like the bike's handling the sand pretty well. I wonder how much water he burned through getting into the main canyon vs how much he's going through riding the canyon?

Edit: I was just looking at his spot page and wondering what it was about this spot that he decided to call it a day. Zooming in, I noticed that just down stream there's a bunch of palms around a wet area at the confluence of two side tributaries. I wonder if he may have run into his first potential water source?

[Edited on 3-28-2014 by DosMars]

On 3-27-14 in 3-D Map Images

David K - 3-27-2014 at 10:47 PM

From close to up high...

11:00 AM 3-28-14

David K - 3-28-2014 at 05:43 PM

Mark was only about 3 miles from the coast at 11:00 AM today. As of 5:30 pm, still no evening Spot signal (if he continued down to the beach)...

David K - 3-29-2014 at 09:11 AM

At 6:25pm Mark sent out a Spot signal from just a few feet different than the 11:06am signal (just above)... He probably needed a rest!

Here again is the link to his Spot Map... click Satellite and zoom in to see where he is/was...

woody with a view - 3-29-2014 at 09:14 AM

slacker coulda made the sea Friday.....


Neal Johns - 3-29-2014 at 11:52 AM

He made it to the ocean!

David K - 3-29-2014 at 02:01 PM

Originally posted by Neal Johns
He made it to the ocean!

YIPEE! 11:42 am:

Barry A. - 3-29-2014 at 02:05 PM

That's incredibly great-----------------an entire new chapter is now been written for the Salsipuedes/Asamblea wilderness!!! and I for one am really excited for him, and we'uns, too!!!!


REALLY looking forward to his report, tho his adventure is sure not over yet.


larryC - 3-30-2014 at 06:56 AM

Now his trip will get interesting. That coastline is rugged, but beautiful. I am surprised he didn't spend any more time in the canyon doing a little exploring. I am sure that if you looked around a little you could find some ancient human habitation places and probably as yet unknown rock art. Will keep an eye on his progress and see what happens.

DosMars - 3-30-2014 at 08:05 AM

I'm sure he's recharging his water reserves and will be heading back up canyon to do more exploring.

Skipjack Joe - 3-30-2014 at 09:56 AM

The latest spot, #16, suggests that he is look for a coastal route going south.

DosMars - 3-31-2014 at 03:15 AM

We're meeting up with him on the 19th to give him a ride back. I'm guessing as long as he has food and water he's going to spend part of that time exploring.
The pack raft back is definitely a big part of the trip and there's a reef I spotted on google-earth that I asked him to scout out for me; so he may be getting ready for some sea trials...

Skipjack Joe - 3-31-2014 at 02:33 PM

The last spot, #15, is from at sea. Spot says "Check OK" so he must be doing fine.

[Edited on 4-1-2014 by Skipjack Joe]

larryC - 3-31-2014 at 03:16 PM

Originally posted by DosMars
We're meeting up with him on the 19th to give him a ride back. I'm guessing as long as he has food and water he's going to spend part of that time exploring.
The pack raft back is definitely a big part of the trip and there's a reef I spotted on google-earth that I asked him to scout out for me; so he may be getting ready for some sea trials...

The 19th is 2 and a half weeks from now, seems he is trying to beat feet out of there a little early. Maybe he has other commitments I don't know about. Glad he is making progress. I wonder if he is using the raft he has. H looks to be down near "muertito" beach. There was a little seasonal fish camp/shack there on a sandy beach. One of the few places to easily land north of Candeleros.


David K - 3-31-2014 at 06:29 PM

Points 15 & 16 were both made this afternoon... I would almost guess a motorboat is involved?

woody with a view - 3-31-2014 at 07:38 PM

if I was a betting man (I am!) I'd bet he is going to explore the asamblea wash for a couple of few days before continuing south.....

Skipjack Joe - 3-31-2014 at 11:07 PM

Originally posted by David K

Points 15 & 16 were both made this afternoon... I would almost guess a motorboat is involved?

Yeah, he covered 6 miles by water in 3 hours. Rowing a raft at 2 miles an hour in dead water seems incredible, but maybe he rigged up some sails. He was going with the wind.

Oh, to be young again.

larryC - 4-1-2014 at 07:17 AM

Originally posted by woody with a view
if I was a betting man (I am!) I'd bet he is going to explore the asamblea wash for a couple of few days before continuing south.....

If he does he has a lot of paddling to do to get back up there to do any exploring.

woody with a view - 4-1-2014 at 11:30 AM

I thought it was the wash he stopped at last night. I didn't say I won very often....!

David K - 4-1-2014 at 11:41 AM

Points 11 & 12 were on March 29, when he reached the coast. Point #13 & 14 were March 30, just south of the mouth of Asamblea. Points #15 & 16 were both made on March 31, on the water, way south.

DosMars - 4-2-2014 at 07:17 PM

Three days on the same beach... I'm thinking he's taking his time distilling and pumping water so he can make his way up that canyon and bike out. If he was going to pack raft any further along this stretch he could just make water as he goes.

JohnMcfrog - 4-2-2014 at 08:29 PM

Mark had me stop at 4 stores going down to find some lures, which weren't too big. I believe he bought 3 lures. His regular food should be close to gone by now. He may be trying to get the fishing thing going.

Here is a summary of the track data:

JohnMcfrog - 4-2-2014 at 08:33 PM

Also, looks like a sand beach where he is at...

woody with a view - 4-2-2014 at 08:52 PM

theres been some radical winds in Yuma the past 2 days. maybe he's waiting it out?

larryC - 4-3-2014 at 07:19 AM

And very strong west winds down here for the last couple of days. As far as fresh water, there is a lot more water up in that canyon than there is along the coast. The food theory makes more sense to me.

TMW - 4-3-2014 at 08:51 AM

He's at Candelero (11) now

David K - 4-3-2014 at 09:33 AM

Originally posted by TW
He's at Candelero (11) now

From Candelero, he can ride up the arroyo (there's an auto road in it) to his water stash by Valle Laguna Seca... 10 miles.

The beach at Candelero was all rock and drift wood 10 years ago.

Back to his water stash, Valle Laguna Seca

David K - 4-3-2014 at 05:32 PM

Today (4-3-14) he made the 10 mile trip up the arroyo to the dry lake valley.

Point 8,9,10 was at the beach, 3-31 to 4-2
Point 11 was at 10:21 am today (4-3)
Point 12 was at 2:24 pm today (4-3)

JohnMcfrog - 4-3-2014 at 05:37 PM

Looks like Mark is already back to the start point!

Barry A. - 4-4-2014 at 01:34 PM

The biggest question in my mind is how he got from the mouth of Salsipuedes/Asamblea washes to Candelero? (SPOT points 8 thru 11, I think)

This is truly a great loop trip, and the first time I have heard of anything like this.

I sure want to know the details.


[Edited on 4-4-2014 by Barry A.]

David K - 4-4-2014 at 02:19 PM

Originally posted by Barry A.
The biggest question in my mind is how he got from the mouth of Salsipuedes/Asamblea washes to Candelero? (SPOT points 8 thru 11, I think)

This is truly a great loop trip, and the first time I have heard of anything like this.

I sure want to know the details.


[Edited on 4-4-2014 by Barry A.]

Posted by John McFrog on Mar. 25 in this thread:

Mark has a Pack Raft that was also developed in Alaska. It weighs in at four pounds and can be patched with duct tape. From pictures on his blog , it appears quite small.

[Edited on 4-4-2014 by David K]

Barry A. - 4-4-2014 at 03:04 PM

Thanks, David. Modern technology blows me away!!!

He must have had favorable winds, or no winds------that's quite a way to paddle in any kind of "raft" unless I am seeing/interpreting it wrong. Also, I don't believe there are any beaches between Candelero and the mouth of the Salsipuedes wash as I recall from cruizeing that coast out of BOLA many many years ago------
----mostly cliffs and rocks.

He done good!!!!


woody with a view - 4-4-2014 at 03:23 PM

there were strong winds 3-4 days ago! made he made a sail!!!

JohnMcfrog - 4-4-2014 at 05:30 PM

Mark the Man is on highway 12...

David K - 4-4-2014 at 05:38 PM

Coming into town for a beer!

treuboff - 4-4-2014 at 06:51 PM

You can see how the pack raft is used on the reality show Ultimate Survival Alaska on Nat Geo

Mark_BC - 4-5-2014 at 10:37 AM

Hey everyone, I'm back! Thanks for following along. And thanks to John mcfrog for the ride, and David k for the maps, and mark for getting me to San Diego. Couldn't have done it without you and everyone else's support.

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I only have my iPhone and I can't access any of my photos, I can't even see my gopro videos, I have no idea how those turned out. It will be at least a month before I can get any photos up. Also, illneed to download some kind of word editor so I can compose my trip report posts beforehand rather than live on the Internet.

The good news is that it was a blast! Pretty much everything I expected. I got some good photos. I have a few stories to tell. I came back after two weeks because water was scarce. Desalinating was a full time job and left not enough time to go fishing, which wasn't all that productive. Basically, head for the bird boils and you can catch barracuda. But they weren't too common.

That's it for now, I just got into town. Will have to review the posts here.

woody with a view - 4-5-2014 at 10:46 AM

can't wait for the report!

David K - 4-5-2014 at 10:50 AM

Great you had success Mark, enjoy some tacos and birria at China's stand!

DosMars - 4-5-2014 at 10:52 AM

Welcome back to civilization Mark! Can't wait to hear all about the trip!
Can you access email?
We'll see you in a couple of weeks, I'll give you a refresher on catching your dinner...

[Edited on 4-5-2014 by DosMars]

Mark_BC - 4-5-2014 at 11:38 AM

Yes I'm at chinas now, but not open yet. No probs, just filled up from the store next door.

Yes I can access emails. Yeah mark you can refresh my fishing skills. As soon as I put the boat in the water to transfer my stuff a km down the beach, there was a book I had to race out to. The barracuda were right under the boat. And then the reel jammed! Too much line in the small reel. But you only been 10 feet of line to catch one. I hit one but wasn't prepared for it(sharp teeth and inflatable boat a half km offshore) and it got away! A few more bites and another boil another day but never actually landed one...

Mark_BC - 4-5-2014 at 11:40 AM

Oh mark see if you can find a wetsuit for me. I found a good pfd on the salsipuedes beach. And bring that bottle of tire goo. And if you have a chance to go by a bike shop pick up a rear derailleur cable, not a brake cable.

David K - 4-5-2014 at 11:51 AM

Sounds like you are having a great time. I used to post onto Amigos de Baja from Lizbeth's store next to China's taco stand 12 years ago...

Skipjack Joe - 4-5-2014 at 11:54 AM


Barracuda will bite through your line, sometimes without you even feeling the bite. That may be why you lost them. Just get 6 inch wire leaders. Barracuda do break off easily sometimes (thankfully :lol::lol:). But they are fairly good eating and still very abundant. They like flash in a lure.

Pompano - 4-5-2014 at 12:00 PM


"Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

woody with a view - 4-5-2014 at 12:02 PM

i had a barracuda dinner thursday night from fresh caught/vacuum sealed last may. tasted as good as if it was swimming that day!

DosMars - 4-5-2014 at 02:51 PM

Try writing up your post in the notes section of your iPhone, then just copy and paste.

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:17 PM

Yeah that works Mark. So it seems that this spare time down here will allow me to do what I never have time to do after these trips-- write up trip reports! Here are the first few days. And then in a few weeks I'll update with photos and GPS coordinates.

And to the discussion a few pages back, I was definitely NOT the first person to explore this area lately (read on). But the Asamblea would have been more remote, too bad I didn't go up there... Maybe next time, with other people.

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:20 PM

Part 1 - Getting There

The first few days of the trip were a barely recollect-able series of critically timed schedules, meetings and travels that amazingly somehow all managed to work out.  First, like usual, I got no sleep the night before my flight as I rushed to get all my equipment and bike stuffed into the two cardboard boxes. No matter how much I try to get stuff organized beforehand, it always turns out this way. My friend Philip pulled up at 7:30 to give me a ride to the seabus just as I was finishing up, and I crossed into downtown Vancouver along with all the other people commuting to work like I used to do. 

Then it was a flight to Vegas where Mark was at a conference. There we hit REI to supply up with food and stove fuel, then hit the road to San Diego, still with only about an hour of sleep to go on. We took turns driving and got to John's place by 11 that night.


Ivanpah Solar Power Station, along I-15:

John was nice enough to offer me a ride down. I finished sorting my stuff until about 1 and then hit the sack until 5:30 when it was again time to roll. We were out before sun up and crossed at Tecate. I managed to doze a bit until Ensenada where we hit Walmart looking for fishing lures unsuccessfully. 

Then we drove south. I took the agricultural section around San Quentin.

We found some lures at El Rosario. Beyond that I don't remember much about the trip as I was in and out of blissful slumber most of the rest of the way to the Bay of LA turnoff. Sorry if I wasn't the most interesting travel companion, but I was operating on extreme sleep deprivation!

We drove up to see the Montevideo Indian paintings opposite the turnoff to the dry lakebeds, along the road to the San Borja mission we had visited the year before (a beautiful drive I might add). They were interesting and I had a great night's sleep, finally. 

Everything fit nicely in the back of the truck:

I got a really good night's sleep on the soft sand. The temps were great and the wind didn't pick up.

Heading back through the cactus forest:

The next morning we set off up the dry lakebed to my starting point, 35 km up the road. Half way there, at the turnoff down to Bahia Guadalupe, at the start of the second lakebed, I buried some heavy stuff I wouldn't be needing, to retrieve after the trip.

We went to my usual staging spot and dumped a bunch of my stuff. Then we drove half way back with my bike and essential gear. That way, if he had a flat or other mechanical problem he'd be able to walk out. We agreed that it's much more comforting to be up here with a bike than a car as a bike is relatively easy to fix and push out if needed. But a car... not quite so easy.  I then rode my bike back and camped.

Along the way I spotted a coyote running around the dry lakebed not too far from the salt flats, and not too far from my stash! I hoped it was safe and it was. And I was surprised to see such life in this desolate plain. I wasn't expecting any wildlife shots so the picture isn't the greatest:

My stuff:

[Edited on 5-10-2014 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:23 PM

Part 2 - The Adventure Begins

I spent the next morning getting my stuff together and finally set out across the lakebed ridiculously overloaded with 40 liters of water. I was going to be needing it the most over the next couple days as I humped my gear over the hill into the Botica lakebed - that's how I justified it. I didn't stash water as I decided I'd need it all, and plus it's a bit dangerous to rely on water caches if the coyotes get into it. Then you could be in trouble at a later time when you really need it. Much safer to just take it with you.

Getting loaded up, but with not even half my water: The trailer and bike jacknife into a nice V shape that offers some protection from the wind for my tent. But I have to lock the wheels with rocks and my elastic band "parking brakes" or the whole thing can come down -- on me in my tent.

Shots looking across from the hill:

Where I would be going:

There is a faint track you can see on Google Earth that goes north, just to the east of the islands, up towards ESG's campsite (Erle Stanley Gardner) who in the 1950's made a trip here with motorbikes and tons of gear. Back then they didn't have the modern lightweight gear I was relying on, nor satellite tracking or Google Earth, so it was a major undertaking. 

I started riding west across the lakebed, like last time, towards the southern island and the faint track 100 m to its east. There is quite a bit more life here on this barren lakebed dominated by creosote bushes than you might think. I saw that coyote yesterday as I rode in the day before, and an osprey in one of the trees (more like large bushes). There are hummingbirds and other birds, and lizards everywhere, along with rabbits. And the desert was in bloom too with fields of yellow and pink flowers in places; it seems to have rained a bit since I was last here a few months ago, stimulating another spurt of life. The life is here; it just isn't overtly obvious. But it's still a pretty desolate place, at least to someone like me from the lush rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. It seems hard to believe that only a few passes away are palm oases with water.

I made it across the lakebed to the track and followed this north. The incline is gradual but steady. You don't really notice it, except it got progressively harder to ride. I was starting to overheat so took a lunch break under a tree to refresh. It wasn't super hot, maybe in the upper 20's, but just a lot of work hauling my gear through the sand and under the blazing sun from 260 m elev at the staging area up to 390 m at my destination for the day.

Looking back to my camp area beside the hill:

Lots of wildflowers:

There were motorbike tracks and a bit of garbage here and there revealing that people do come here. There was an old sandal that may have even been from ESG's original expedition. 


Eventually the two tire tracks turned into a wash with only motorbike tracks. I followed this until it wasn't rideable anymore and at one point in order to avoid cactus and get up an incline I was contorting the load too much and it all went over. I cursed and then disconnected the trailer and pushed the remaining 100 m to the base of the hill which I guessed was somewhere around ESG's camp, at 390 m.

This is the kind of terrain where the wash ended:

I discovered a while later that my tripod was missing. I freaked out and ran back. It was where the load fell over. You have to be careful with your gear out here. It's easy to forget or lose stuff. I don't do a checklist when I pack up camp, except for the most important personal items. Instead I just pack up whatever I see. Because of this I have to be very careful to not place items by themselves. When my gear comes apart, everything goes into piles, and no small items are left by themselves. That way I can be sure that as long as I pack up everything from the piles, I have not forgotten anything. The one exception to this is the two GPS units which by definition need to be placed by themselves, usually away from camp, and then left. It's really easy to forget about those, which is why I always specifically check for them when leaving any location where I unpacked.

Looking towards the hill, left of center:

Campsite beside the elephant tree:

This is the hill I'd be climbing the next day:

I pulled out the solar panel to charge batteries, had dinner and called it a day.

[Edited on 5-11-2014 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:26 PM

Part 3 - The Hill

Early morning light. This was not the hill I'd be climbing...

The next morning while packing up I noticed a pack of coyotes pretty close. When I saw them, they saw that I saw them and started walking away to the north, up towards the hill I'd be scaling. Great, just what I wanted as I was going to stage my load and leave my food bags unattended at times. 

There is a pass to get over into the Botica dry lakebed, the smallest and most northern of the three, and the one without road access. The easiest way up to the pass is to scale the sidehill of a particular gully. I was camped on the east side of the base of the gully but decided that the easiest way up would be on the west. So that morning I spent some time moving my gear across the rocky terrain to the base of the hill on the west side.

Look for my bike in the lower right corner:

Then the real work began. I was in the full sun on a southern facing rocky slope and there was no way to avoid it. I had planned for it though; that's why I brought all the water. I'd just have to work hard that day and get my stuff up. Thankfully, it seemed that every day of the trip thereafter should be progressively easier, so I just powered through it. It did provide a good opportunity to charge my batteries in the sun though, between runs:

I hiked my stuff up in 5 stages, and managed to do 4 loads to get it all up. So basically I hiked the equivalent of 4 times loaded going up and 3 times unloaded going down. Then, I was at the peak. Or, at least the end of the steep section. From here there was another half kilometer of less steep incline and smaller rocks which enabled me to push the bike and reduce down to only two loads. Luckily, there was no sign of the coyotes.

At the top of the steep section, looking back. Notice the white limestone:

Interestingly, at the top the geology changes and there is a lot of old limestone coral reef amongst the volcanic rocks. I could see the polyp chambers and even the tubes from calcareous tube worms. Had I not been so physically stressed I might have spent more time inspecting it for other familiar marine creatures I used to maintain at the aquariums I worked at. 

Finally I got to the actual peak around 570 m and around here I noticed a trail... In places it was more of a barely distinguishable route, but it was definitely there. I followed it back south to see where it came from, until it started to descend down the EAST side of the gully, basically to around where my campsite was! Doh! So I didn't need to move my gear over to the west side after all, and I could have enjoyed a relatively clear path in a little bit of shade! Oh well, that's part of the discovery I guess. 

I'm not sure where this trail came from. Was it from natives moving up and down the lakebeds? Or did ESG's party clear it to get their stuff up? Maybe both. Either way, I was in disbelief that ESG's party could get their motorbikes and gear up that hill. I guess people were tougher back then. And the trail is still in use today. There is the odd pink ribbon, and vegetation was trampled since the last rains. But there were no fresh tracks.

Eidsco has a couple photos up around here on Google Earth. I can confirm that yes, it does actually look like that! I looked back over the lakebed to where I had come from and felt a sense of accomplishment from all the terrain I had covered in my last two trips, under my own power. I realized that despite appearing harsh and desolate, as long as you have water and it isn't too hot, the terrain isn't actually very difficult or formidable, unless of course you go climbing steep hills like I was... But even then, it wasn't too bad. No snakes or overly spiny vegetation to get in the way. Back home it would be a major undertaking to cover that terrain through the thick wet forest. And here in the desert, when you sweat you dry off quickly, as does any other wet gear. Back home, or in the tropics, if your gear isn't hanging out in the sunshine, it won't dry and will go mouldy. So desert travel isn't actually too difficult as long as you plan for its challenges - lack of water, heat and spines.  

I was totally beat and found a spot to camp just over the summit as it starts to descend down the Botica side. Foolishly I leaned my loaded bike up against a dead agave which of course didn't hold. The whole thing went over and then all I heard was hissing as sharp agave spines punctured both tires. This was a great opportunity to test out the Stan's self-sealing tire goop. You just have to rotate the tire so it collects where the puncture is and then voila, in only a few seconds it seals itself up!

I ended up using 6 liters of water that day, which was reassuring considering all the sweating I was doing.

I went over and checked out the next day's route into Botica lakebed:

Close-up of the lakebed I'd be traversing, from right to left:

A plane flew overhead and I wondered if they could see me. They probably could but I doubt they did. That was a cold night as the wind whistled over the pass.

[Edited on 5-20-2014 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:30 PM

Part 4 - Botica

ESG's party went north across the Botica lakebed and then down the canyon out to join the main Salsipuedes drainage near the ocean. This is a fairly direct route to the ocean that I didn't plan to take, for three reasons. It was short, and I wanted to ride a decent section of desert canyon. And it offers no water (at least if it hasn't recently rained), with no palm oases. And there is a big cliff midway down the canyon that ESG had to scale with some difficulty. I had no reason or desire to take that risk by myself, so my plan was to instead turn west midway across the lakebed and try to cross over into a tributary that enters the Salsipuedes drainage quite a ways further up. From Google Earth the crossing into that drainage didn't look too bad, but on the other hand I've found that sometimes GE doesn't reveal difficult terrain too accurately...

This guy crawled out from under my tent in the morning:

The next morning I firstly had the descent down the north side of the hill to contend with, which I reasoned shouldn't be nearly as difficult as the previous day since I'd be mostly in the shade and it doesn't go down as far in elevation. Plus I had the trail to follow, which was still pretty rocky, but easier than picking my own way across rock fields. But on the other hand, going down is always harder on my knees and back home I frequently hike up the trendy Grouse Grind trail, an 800 m climb up the local mountain, after which you take the ski gondola back down. So I was well trained for going up but not for down. 

View midway down the hill at one of my staging areas:

A dead hollow barrel cactus with only the spines remaining:

But I got down without issue in a few stages without tweaking my knees. I had to cross a few hundred more meters of brushy/ rocky flat ground to get to the main sandy wash and then I could set up to ride. It was hot setting my bike up again but I got it together and I was off!

You can probably see from the times of the Spot GPS hits that I went down this wash pretty fast! It was really easy to ride, except for the odd time I hit some loose sand and had to gun it to maintain momentum. My rear tire is a Surly Endomorph, which is "only" 4" wide. I would have liked to put a 5" Big Fat Larry on but the trailer fork wouldn't accept that width (but I do have a BFL on the front). Although, looking at it now, I might be able to squeeze one in there... Plus I had a lot of weight on the back tire. 

Regardless, I was cruising along at a great pace until I got to the spot where I'd turn west off the wash (430 m) and cross the real desert lakebed. I did that and discovered a lot of spines! There were quite a few chollas and their spines had blown and washed into all the nooks and crannies, ready to poke my tires. I had goop in the tires, but I still wanted to avoid spines if possible. Plus I didn't have goop in the trailer tire which wasn't so much of a problem since it follows in the tracks of the bike tires, which soak up all the spines first! But that's only if I go in a straight line; otherwise, the trailer tracks its own vulnerable path.

So I ended up just carefully pushing my bike the few km to the west, and the ground would have been too steep to comfortably ride anyways. I was heading straight into the sun, so it was a hot crossing. To the north all along the lakebed is an impressive and picturesque mountain range offering perspective as I went. 

My plan was to aim for a little pass through the first set of hills through which the sandy wash concentrates and should be rideable. I got there no problem and then afterwards it was a bit more tricky. I'd have to pick the correct tributary and go up this one to the location that offers the easiest route into the Salsipuedes. It's tricky because it's always easier to go down a wash than up! Not only because you're going downhill, but also because there is only one way to go when you go down; you can't take a wrong turn. Going up, it's easy to take the wrong tributary. 

I followed this for a few km and noted that outside of these washes the terrain would be difficult to traverse, consisting of fairly large rocks and vegetation, with these sunken sandy washes criss crossing it but at about 3 m lower elevation than the plain itself, in little mini "canyons". So I really needed to be in the correct tributary. 

Looking back at the setting sun against the northern mountains, from my little mini canyon:

I used my GPS and the few notes I had made and followed the "canyon" until I could go no further by bike (530 m). I was a little concerned because the geology was becoming more granite boulder-dominated, like the terrain that had foiled my first attempt because it is so difficult to cross. It's beautiful, but very difficult to traverse. 

Anyways, it turns out that through either my own good navigation or from good luck, or maybe a combination of the two, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be! Just a couple hundred meters from the pass (550 m) that was accessible via some not-too-difficult desert whacking. Not rideable, but not difficult. And the descent down the other side didn't look too bad either, although I couldn't actually see from the pass the entire route down into the main wash:

This is looking down a parrallel adjacent mini wash, the one to the north-west, that would have gotten me a bit closer to the pass. However, I wasn't sure if the canyon itself had more obstacles. Worth checking out next time!

I set up camp in the little mini canyon and did an assessment. Despite these crazy trips I like going on, I am not actually a big risk taker. If there is an unknown but potentially dangerous obstacle in my path and I don't have an alternative "out", I get very distressed and I was at the point where this may become an issue. 

So I did some math. At that point, I had used 18 liters of water, with 22 left. That was over 3.5 days, and the most water intensive days of the trip. That was an average of 5 liters per day. The 6 liters I used on the climb day skewed that so I was probably using about 4.5 liters on an average active day. To be safe and say that I needed 5 liters per day, that left me with 4.5 days of water left. 

I went through an option matrix. My concern was two areas of potential bluffs in the Salsipuedes drainage that could send me back. Other than those, it was clear sailing all the way to Larry's photo on GE, and if he got up there with quads then surely I could get down with a bike. So would 4.5 days allow me enough time to get to the locations of concern and if impassable, turn around and go back down the Botica canyon to the ocean, somehow managing that 80 ft cliff with my 50 ft of rope? The numbers worked out OK, although very tight. I reasoned that if ESG made it down that cliff with motorbikes then I could do it with a 40 lb bike. And the potential "cliffs" in the Salsipuedes I was worrying about may even have water. The chances of getting into trouble were remote, but still I like to have all my based covered out there because the consequences of a mistake could be serious. 

I decided I should be OK and went to sleep with a little worry. 

[Edited on 5-23-2014 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 4-6-2014 at 03:33 PM

Part 5 - Into Salsipuedes!

Here is a morning view of my campsite in the mini canyon:

The traverse over the pass into the Salsipuedes drainage turned out to be easier than I expected. I had to hike my stuff up to the pass, but I could push my loaded bike and trailer all the way down, over the few hundred meters into the small sandy tributary wash, with only a few sketchy areas along the way requiring some brute force.

There were lots of cactus spines to watch out for though. You start to recognize the different species and the spine characteristics of each. One lowly species has vicious long spines and is easy to miss because it is low to the ground. I managed to whack my shin into that one and it was painful pulling those out. You have to accept that you will be stabbed multiple times out here! In retrospect I wish I had brought gaiters to help protect against spines, as well as rattlesnakes. But I have to say, I have never seen a rattlesnake in all my travels in Baja.

Here I am doing the final packing of my bike before hitting Salsipuedes wash!

I soon hit nice sandy wash to ride!

I was ecstatic to have made it. And immediately upon entering the little sandy side branch (I wasn't in the main wash yet) I saw something unexpected: quad tracks! They were way up this canyon and it was reassuring because it meant that it was possible to get out to the ocean easily, since presumably that's where it came from. This provided a great deal of relief and I set off riding down this wide tributary to the main Salsipuedes. I thought it was a little risky though for the quad to be up here all by itself and I wondered who it was. And it seems that he was looking for a way into Botica lakebed, as he went up the little tributary that I went down. I estimated that the tracks were a couple months old, as the big rains in December would have washed them away, but the more recent light rains stimulated some more flower growth on them. But who knows, maybe they were older; I'm no expert tracker (but I do want to be chased on the TV show Mantracker -- look it up). Wide wash:

I had 3 km to cover to get to the main canyon, and the location of the first palm oasis. I would describe that ride as "exceedingly easy" and it ranks as one of the best I have done in my travels, despite its short length. The sand was crusty and stiff, and the grade steep enough that I didn't have to pedal! I could coast all the way down, with only the loose sand from the quad tracks to slow me. Was it going to be like this all the way to the Sea of Cortez? I had to balance the fun of riding with the need to take photos and take in the experience, since I wouldn't be coming back up to do it again. Keep in mind that during my whole trip, I was taking video and photos. I have Gopro'd almost the entire length if it, from various mounts on my bike and body, and also taken video with my Nikon V1 which required setting up with a tripod and retrieving it afterwards. This added quite a bit to the time, which wasn't a bad thing and probably forced me to better appreciate certain aspects of the place. I wasn't there to win a race; I was there to explore, document, and enjoy. 

After a couple km the wide wash turned into a canyon:

You can see the quad tracks here:

The walls moved in and suddenly I was in canyon terrain. I knew the junction was coming up soon and then there it was - it was quite a sight seeing the tops of the palm trees emerge from the canyon walls off in the distance and get closer and closer. The whole experience was incredibly beautiful.

What's that I see off in the distance...


Wow again!

The side tributary dropped off about a meter before entering the Salsipuedes, presumably because the Salsipuedes had flown more recently. The palm oasis was amazing, with huge dead palm fronds littering the ground.

And it had sedges in one spot, signifying ground water, and further inspection revealed a little pool of standing water! Full of bees, mosquito larvae and needle sharp sedges, but water still!

It was lunch time and I decided to spend the rest of the day there. I filtered some water, although it still tasted stagnant. I wished I had brought a carbon filter to clean it up. I considered putting it through my seawater desalination pump but I learned from our last job at work specifying a desalination plant down in South America that silicates can clog up the membrane, and this water looked to be hard with lots of silicates. Seawater doesn't actually have high silicates. So I just used the water for cooking and washing clothes.

Right below the water pool is a nice sandy spot under the petticoats of a couple palms, perfectly protected from the afternoon sun and winds. Perfect! I spent a great afternoon there relaxing and organizing, taking photos and recharging batteries, in more ways than one. 

There is lots of bird life here, as one would expect in a desert oasis, which was interesting to watch. And some hawks screeched overhead, adding to the classic desert scene. 

I noticed two palm species. One is the common Mexican fan palm, Washingtonia filifera. But there is another smaller one with grey leaves and different seeds. These are the ones that grow up the rocky areas in the upper canyon. It is a Butia species; I'll have to look it up later.

Here is the two species growing together:

I hiked up the Salsipuedes to the next palm grove which wasn't far, although it didn't have water.

When it rains it pours:

Interesting plants growing in the sandy wash:

I decided not to see how far I could go up the main canyon before getting too rough since I was still unsure about the next potential problem area 2 km further down. I was here to enjoy myself, not push myself too hard. It was good enough that I was there.

The oasis attracts lots of bird life and I had some fun trying to take photos. This hawk perched in a palm to check me out. But those raptors, they know when you point the lens at them and fly away. I haven't yet identified it:

A blurry in-flight shot:

I found a better water puddle with fewer bees and more water, but more mosquito larvae:

Here is looking downstream from the oasis:

[Edited on 4-6-2014 by Mark_BC]

[Edited on 5-25-2014 by Mark_BC]

[Edited on 5-25-2014 by Mark_BC]

DosMars - 4-6-2014 at 05:48 PM

Awesome write up so far Mark! Great to know you're back out & safe.

Barry A. - 4-6-2014 at 06:52 PM

Outstanding------just outstanding!!!!!


David K - 4-6-2014 at 07:06 PM

A book is in your future! High adventure in Mexico's Desert Peninsula!

Paulina - 4-6-2014 at 07:21 PM

I am enjoying your report very much, thank you for taking the time to post. I wish Herman was still around to hear about your adventures in "Get out if you can"yon. I know he was out and about that area quite a bit.


N2Baja - 4-6-2014 at 10:21 PM

Great write up! Can't wait to see your pictures!

ehall - 4-7-2014 at 06:26 AM

very interesting, can't wait to read the rest.

TMW - 4-7-2014 at 10:40 AM

Excellent, keep it coming.

Mark_BC - 4-7-2014 at 03:33 PM

Thanks guys. I have to admit, I haven't read ESG's accounts so if I have said something inaccurate about his trip let me know. I'll try to find them when I get back, or maybe there's somewhere online I can access them here?

Yeah I'd love to write a book or even make a movie, I sure have enough material. And there are some bike travel magazines that I'm sure would have the story. But I don't want to popularize the area too much or everyone and his dog would be there. If someone ever managed to put a road in it would totally change the place.

Part 6 - The Palm Canyons

Yesterday, as I filtered water the little pool drained and didn't seem to recharge, so there was a limit to how much water I could take. But by morning it had more than recharged, providing ample to allow me to filter about 5 liters to take with me.

I wasn't sure what to expect now that I was in the main canyon but based on the previous day, it promised to be good. Unfortunately, however, the riding itself wasn't quite up to the same par, but the beauty of the palm canyon made up for it. 

As soon as I headed out I hit tamarisk and then very shortly some rock fields that were a bit difficult to negotiate. And the sand was a lot looser making the riding very difficult, too difficult in most places, so I had to push the bike most of the way for the first couple km to the next point of constriction in the canyon. 

It was at this place that I had been worried about potential cliffs, although after seeing the quad tracks that worry mostly went away. However, the quad tracks were now absent, which had me pondering for a few days. They ended at the confluence with the main canyon.

I pushed my bike through the heat to that constriction which was basically just some rocks and another picturesque palm grove, with standing water too, although of poorer quality than the first one.

I decided to have a long lunch there and charge up my iPhone in the midday sun. It requires full overhead sun to charge. It had completely died the previous day as I didn't realize you have to shut it off to prevent battery drain, not just put it to sleep. Thankfully, after 10 minutes it chirped, indicating that it was charging. I left it there as I negotiated my gear down the rocks which weren't too bad, but required that I disconnect the trailer. I explored a bit and found some antelope mandibles. By the time I was ready to move on the phone was up to 30%! Modern technology eh! On my tiny little phone I had Google Earth cached which has detail down to individual palm trees, and you can charge it with a waterproof, roll-up solar panel weighing less than a pound. Imagine what ESG would have thought about that. And the Spot GPS too. If you get in trouble you just push a button and a few hours later a helicopter comes to pick you up! And my HD cameras, my bike, and packraft... I love modern technology! But you have to be careful with it, because if it breaks you could be in trouble and be forced back to the basics. Fortunately, I had the basics covered too!

The canyon continues on after this with fewer rocks but equally difficult sand. At one point I found a rock cairn revealing that people do come here:

Some of the palm groves lining the wash are very beautiful, like manicured avenues planted along the streets in Beverly Hills.

Hard to not take photos:

The sun was hot beating down on the canyon walls. But the sand gradually improved in firmness allowing me to ride more and more, which provided some breeze. At one point I decided to put on my Gopro chest harness. To do this I leaned my bike against a rock and took my backpack off. Then I got about 15 minutes of continuous footage as I rode down the next km. 

I decided to take a break in an area of shade I encountered so I turned off the Gopro and took off my backpack... except that my backpack wasn't there! I thought the riding felt a lot more comfortable... Damn, I forgot to put it back on way back there! I got pretty flustered and irritated by myself. You can't let these stupid things happen out here, I chastised. But I also consoled myself in that it was hot and stressful and the mind doesn't totally focus in those situations. So I had to hike 20 minutes back up the wash in the heat, and there was my backpack, lying out in the wide open on the ground.  How could that have slipped through my system? Now my new policy was to always look back whenever the bike gets moving from a stop, and to always put the backpack in front of the wheels so there's no way I could forget it! All in all I probably used over half a liter of water and wasted an hour in that little escapade. 

I decided that I'd book it over to Larry's photo, and then relax a bit and maybe hike up the side of the canyon to get some higher level photos and videos. And I'd camp there. I went by a small rock cairn at one of the curves so someone had been up here doing something. I noticed that as I went down the canyon there were more and more fire scarred palms. The ones in the upper canyon are clear. Maybe people set them on fire. 

I got to the exact spot of his photo and then a little further down discovered some garbage. Then more garbage, and a shredded sleeping bag, and clothes. It was the remains of a camp! Someone had set up a camp there! And they knew what they were doing too. There was some of that black ABS pipe lying around for moving water from the source to camp, and they made some pretty well constructed palm thatch huts in between the palm trees. It was a real life Gilligan's Island. There was a rock hanging by a rope from a low branch, which I presumed was for crunching up rock samples, as I also presumed they were prospectors. 

And then I noticed... bones. Oh man, they looked about people sized too. No skull or anything, but some vertebrae, long bones, and a fractured shoulder blade strewn around in front of one of the huts. That sent a chill down my own spine.

I wondered about the possibilities.   Was there foul play involved? Or did someone just not realize how dry it gets and ran out of water, with no Spot GPS or seawater desalinator pump to save them? There were no recent tracks, and  based on the date of a Powerade container (2011), it had been a few years. 

The one doubt I had about the bones was that the vertebra had a long fin on it, like you see on dolphins. I didn't think human spines had such long fins, but I wasn't sure. But what would someone be doing with a section of dolphin up here? And how would they keep it from going bad? And why were the bones just littered there in front of the hut? After you finish eating it you'd throw them in the garbage pile. And why did the place look like someone just upped and left, leaving behind valuable equipment and food? And why were there no quad tracks here? Surely he'd stop to check it out. Why would the sleeping bag be all shredded?

One likely explanation was that the bones were from an antelope they killed, as they can have the long fins on the vertebrae. I'd check the internet after I got back to see what human vertebrae look like (I've done that and it seems they weren't human).

But that place sure gave me the creeps, and many of those questions remain unanswered. So I did a quick Spot hit and took one small can of tomato sauce that expired that month, March of 2014, then skidaddled out of town ASAP. On my way out I passed a lobster trap half buried in the sand from the last flood and took that too, as I'd love to have lobster at the beach! I don't know what the etiquette is about raiding abandoned camps, but this was clearly abandoned. 

I went another km to the next palm grove and set up camp. There was stuffing from the sleeping bag strewn around this far down, as the last rains washed it down and it got hung up in the tamarisk.  I looked at GE on the iPhone and found my exact location, identifying each individual palm tree around me.

I was a little freaked out but managed to get to sleep after the gigantic buzzing bug in the petticoat of the adjacent palm tree stopped buzzing after an hour. What would the next day bring? Would I make it to the ocean or would that wait another day? I lusted after the barracuda I hoped to catch in a day or two. 

[Edited on 5-26-2014 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 4-7-2014 at 03:37 PM

Part 7 - The Lower Canyon and Strawberry Hills

I wasted no time packing up that morning. I was at the most downstream major palm grove and after that they would begin to peter out, as the canyon widens and the groundwater goes too deep.

Crumbling canyon walls...

I went down the next few km fairly uneventfully. The quality of the sand for riding was improving and I could ride it all. I'm not sure what the processes are that turn loose sand into rideable crusty sand, but it didn't seem to have anything to do with the age since last flood.

I climbed a side hill and got a great video panorama if me riding down, framed by the mountains. I arrived at the Asamblea junction and hiked up it a little ways. The sand was very firm, easily rideable. But I didn't know how rocky it got further up around the corner. I had about 3 days of water left. I could have gone up a few km and in retrospect I wish I had tried, but I decided to play it safe and just continue on. There was no way I had enough water to safely go up and back to that interesting oasis 8 km up, especially considering the rocks I'd encounter, and there's a good chance it wouldn't have water as the last big one at Larry's photo didn't have standing water. Maybe next time, when there's more water. Looking up at the junction. Salsipuedes to the left, Asamblea to the right:

I kept thinking about the quad tracks. I went through all possible entry points he could have taken to get into the upper canyon overland. It would be great if it was possible, because that would eliminate the hurdle of the hike over the pass into Botica lakebed. But I just couldn't think of any. He couldn't have come from Botica because there's no way he'd get over the hill, and I would have seen his tracks. There's no way he could have come from the upper Salsipuedes as I couldn't even hike it. And I highly doubt there's a track coming in from the Yubay area, and that would entail going down the middle Salsipuedes canyon, which from GE seemed to be pretty rocky and steep. So the only conclusion I could come to was that he came up the canyon from the beach via boat access. And the reason I could see no more tracks was because rains in the upper Salsipuedes caused that one to flood more recently than the wide wash I first went down just west of the Botica lakebed. But you'd think I'd see some evidence of the tracks somewhere... but nothing, all the way to the ocean. And since there were two tracks, if he came up from the ocean then that is only one quad -- one track up and one down. That is a risky thing to do alone, since if a quad breaks down you aren't pushing it out 25 km. A bike, sure. But not a quad. But maybe there was more water around when he came up. Anyways, it's a mystery. 

I slowly plodded down the wash as I was in no rush. The canyon opened up and the valley became wide. There are palm trunks strewn all the way down to the ocean.

I could see off in the distance an interesting pink cliff. I was going to go by it.

Huh, that looks interesting..

As I approached it got more and more impressive. The wash skirts by its northwestern side and I took a detour south to have a better look. Wow, that is quite a formation! I haven't seen anything like it. It seems to be made up of two layers of sedimentary rock, one white and one pink. They are both eroding and creating interesting talus slopes and topography at the base. I hiked around to the east and it was even more impressive. The whole landscape there is otherworldly, like from a different planet. I could go on but maybe I'll just let the photos do the talking when I get them up.

Lonely cardon by the pink cliff:

It was only lunch time but there was no way I was going to let an opportunity for evening light on that hill to go by so I decided to camp there. There is an interesting tree at its base that has a little nook in its east side that allowed me to fit my tent in and stay in the shade all day! Perfect! My campsite:

Look for my bike in this one:

I'm not sure what animal was making these tracks up the talus slope as there is nothing up there to eat:

Oh look, there's the ocean!

No don't jump!

Very interesting geology:

I noticed the ant nests and took some video of one. They seem to be common out here in the desert. It got me thinking about how the ecosystem energetics work out here. None of the desert animals need to drink water. Instead, the water enters the ecosystem via the plants, after it rains. Water plus carbon dioxide makes carbohydrates (sugars and woody and leafy material). This is then stored as various plant materials which the herbivores like ants eat, even in the driest months when there's no water anywhere. The ants presumably farm the leafy material they collect, which oxidises back into water and carbon dioxide, releasing the energy originally captured by the plants via photosynthesis, and allows the animals to live. Then the ants get eaten by the lizards and the lizards get eaten by the coyotes, and each makes its own water via metabolism of that original plant material. Kind of interesting how it all works to keep life moving along even when there's no water. It doesn't work for people or cows though because our bodies aren't good at conserving water. We have to drink it. 

Evening came and I went up some of the opposite hills to get a better perspective on the pink one. The light wasn't quite as good as I was hoping for since it clouded over a bit, but still really nice. 

It's at times like this that I wish I had a dedicated wide angle lens with me. I am going to have to reassess my camera choices for next trip. The small Nikon 1 sensor isn't giving me the depth of field and dynamic range I like. It will be good for wildlife when coupled with my longer lenses since it offers great reach, but for more normal focal lengths I think I may bite the bullet and bring along the larger DX format cameras, and gasp even full frame!

I tried riding my bike over to the opposite hills and that was a mistake. In the first couple hundred feet I picked up dozens of spines. There were these really irritating little spike balls all over the place. I limped the bike back with tires hissing. Hopefully the goop would seal them up OK. 

I got a good night's sleep and looked forward to getting to the ocean the next day, only 5 km away.

[Edited on 5-28-2014 by Mark_BC]

woody with a view - 4-7-2014 at 07:10 PM

please edit the fotos into this thread where we can follow along. sounds like a blast. I often look at far away mountains and canyons and wonder if anyone has ever been there.....

DosMars - 4-7-2014 at 07:17 PM

Been waiting all day for this installment, definitely worth the wait! Looking forward to pics...

larryC - 4-8-2014 at 08:09 AM

Those pink mountains are some of the prettiest scenes I have ever seen. I'll never forget them. Looks like you noticed also that most of the palms have burned in the past, but have survived. I'm guessing it is mother natures way of cleaning out the forest. I am curious about the abandoned camp. I heard from a kayaker that he had ventured up the canyon and come across some guys with guns growing pot. I took the story with a grain of salt. Maybe there is some truth to the story. The quad tracks could be from the 2010 trip but there were at least 3 quads on that trip. Another mystery. Maybe the pot growers had a quad.
Glad you made it happen.

Mark_BC - 4-9-2014 at 09:54 AM

Yeah that camp was a mystery. I doubt it was for pot, I don't know where you'd grow them.

Part 8 - Out to Salsipuedes Beach

I woke up to a totally flat front tire. No matter what I did or how I tilted it, it wouldn't stop hissing. I was so intent on listening for faint hisses that I think I started imagining them in the silence of the desert. 

So I had to take the wheel apart. Luckily this wasn't the back wheel as that one is a bit trickier to take it off. My poor front tire, it takes all the abuse. 

I soon discovered the source of the problem -- a few inch long spines sticking through the tire and innertube. I think the self sealing goop works best with a tubeless tire.  If there is a tube then the spines constantly jiggle between the differential movement of the tire and tube and never fully seal. The agave puncture sealed up well because the spines came out when I pulled the bike away. Cactus spines have barbs and are hard to pull out. 

But going tubeless is a skill I haven't learned yet. I don't know how to seat the tire bead so that the tire seals up against the rim so I can actually start pumping. For now the tire just kind of hangs there until the inflating innertube pushes it out against the rim. 

So I had a bit of a late start that morning. I pushed the bike back to the wash, being careful to avoid the spike balls. I continued on down the wash, taking videos as I went. There were lots more of the pink hills, but nothing quite so dramatic. 

And there was a whole bunch more of the spike balls too.  Even though the lower wash is very wide, the most recent flow route was pretty narrow and offered the cleanest sand to ride. But it could be convoluted and went over rocks in places. This provided plenty of opportunity for spike balls to lurk. Sometimes I'd go through whole beds of them and would immediately stop to pull them all out. I was worried about the trailer tire since I was swerving so much and it wasn't following the tracks of the bike tires.

But I made my way down slowly and surely and was anticipating what the first glimpses of the ocean would be like. Then all of a sudden, there it was! A sliver of blue way down there.

It was still a couple km away but eventually I got there, scaring some rabbits up along the way. Finally I made it! It felt so good. 

It was early afternoon and hot, with no shade. There isn't much to say about how the Salsipuedes meets the sea. It is a big rocky beach with some sand and dried mud above the high tide line, and wood and other flotsam and garbage blown up into the higher ground. There are also palm trunks around too.

There was a slight northern wind. I scrounged around to see what I could find that was useful -- a lid-less white cooler which could be used to store things away from the rocky beach and keep them cool, various crates, a wooden palette, a plastic spoon, and a fully functional pfd. 

I decided that I had to move to either the northern or southern headland. The northern one offered a sunshade that someone had put up.

And Mark wanted me to go check out the little reefs just offshore a few km north.  But I think that would be asking too much given the northern winds and how hard it was to get by day to day. I was heading south, so I went south. But Mark points out that it should be possible to ride up to those little reefs via an overland trek a couple miles up the wash, then descend the next little wash heading north. From GE it looks do-able. And I have to admit that there are some pink hills up there that looked intriguing as I went down the wash. I briefly contemplated a short exploration up there as I rode by. 

I had already unpacked half my gear on the beach so I decided to put back what I could on the bike and take the rest, along with my newly discovered treasures, down in my packraft. I'd push the bike along the rocky beach to the next point which allowed me to keep an eye on it from both sides in case the ravens or coyotes went to town on it. Then I'd go back to retrieve the packraft and paddle down to the southern headland. 

This worked out ok, and the winds were behind me. I had the lobster trap and a crate on the front of the raft, and my fishing rod ready for trolling. But then as I was paddling south I saw a big bird commotion a little further down, about a half km offshore.

That meant the predatory fish like barracuda or yellowtail were pushing a ball of little fish to the surface. Great, boils never let me down! So I raced over and got out the rod. I tried to cast with my gloves on and the thing totally jammed! And the barracuda were swimming 3 feet under my boat! I cannot describe how frustrating that was. The issue was that it was a very small reel, for carrying on my bike, and I loaded it with too much line. 

I managed to get some line out and I hooked one! I pulled it up out of the water and it was a nice foot long barracuda, just like I had been dreaming about! But then I realized I was a ways offshore in an inflatable boat with a sharp-toothed barracuda flapping around on the line. And I had turned into the wind and the upper crate had blown over on its side. If I had lashed it more securely it would have been the perfect place to put the fish. So I mucked around a little bit to prepare for the landing and the thing got off the hook! I had earlier on broken off the barbs for the fishes' sake but I was cursing that decision! Screw the fish, I wouldn't be releasing anything I caught out here. 

I can't tell you how much I wanted that fish. I would have taken a bird too / instead if one had grabbed the lure. Maybe not a pelican but a gull for sure. Hell, maybe even a pelican. 

I got one more bite but it got off the hook before getting to the boat and that was it ... no more fish! Party over, everyone go home. I was soooo disappointed. I limped back to shore and instead cooked up the can of spicy tomato paste I stole from camp, along with some spaghetti pasta I brought, as that packs the densest and offers some extra bulk and calories to my freeze dried backpacker food packets. It was actually pretty good but I would so much rather have been eating barracuda!

I arrived on the beach at high tide and by evening it had gone out. Holy cow are the tides ever huge here! Probably close to 20 feet, and it went out like 50 meters. They resonate and amplify up and down the Gulf of California., like in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. 

I went to bed and hoped for another bird boil the next day. I'd try my various seawater desalination techniques too and assess that critical aspect of my survival while I still had a few days of water left. At least on the beach I wouldn't be burning through the water so fast since I wouldn't be working hard. 

The next day brought some morning southern breezes that shifted to northern by midday. That should work out ok for packrafting south if it keeps up. 

I tried my desalinating hand pump and discovered that it was a lot of work! It produces about a liter an hour but that requires constant hard pumping. You can't do anything else. Pretty tedious. And in order to prolong the membrane's life I was pre-filtering the seawater with my backpacking filter. 

I also tried my campfire seawater distilling pot. This worked better than expected. I got about a half liter in an hour on the fire. So making fresh water would be possible, but not easy. I had 8 liters or so, enough for over 2 days, so no rush.

I also did a food inventory -- enough for about 8 days, assuming I caught no fish. But that morning I was very hungry and had oatmeal as well as honey stingers lathered with peanut butter. It seems my appetite was catching up with my calorie expenditures... It takes a few days.  So maybe I didn't have 8 days of food left. 

At one point in the day a coyote just brazenly walked out on the beach 50 feet from me and then went back into the desert by my camp. It showed no fear. Maybe I was the first person it had seen. Because of all the coyotes and birds that seemed ready and willing to pilfer my camp, I was hesitant to go out fishing in my packraft. This is the same issue I encountered kayaking up BC's Inside Passage; if I left my stuff on the beach it would be easy pickings for a bear or other animal. In this respect and others, it would be better to go with other people so duties can be divided up. And the video and pictures would be much better too. But it makes for a better story going it alone. 

I had my packraft and fishing gear ready to go in case of a bird boil but there was no activity that day and the rocky beach seemed pretty desolate fish-wise, so I decided to head south the next morning if the winds were favorable. It was nice to be back at the ocean with all the life to keep me company. The sea lions were rafting just off the beach, and I even heard some whales offshore. 

[Edited on 6-22-2014 by Mark_BC]

[Edited on 7-7-2014 by Mark_BC]

TMW - 4-9-2014 at 11:34 AM

Have you looked into using a foam tube insert instead of a tube. They make them for bicycles and off road motorcycle tires. I have them in my bicycle, no more flats. As to the ride my bike feels like I shifted about two gears higher as there is more resistance. I've ran moose tubes in a motorcycle and they feel a little harder. Here is a web site of one company, maybe talk to them and see if something is available for your bike.

Skipjack Joe - 4-9-2014 at 11:45 AM

Originally posted by Mark_BC

I woke up to a totally flat front tire. No matter what I did or how I tilted it, it wouldn't stop hissing.

Sounds like my ex-wife.

DosMars - 4-9-2014 at 04:29 PM

Good stuff Mark! Did you try any of the circle hooks I gave you? Turn over a couple of rocks for a few snails, crush up the shell & use for bait.
Easy-peasy fresh & easy seafood dinner...
Grab some limes and head out to La Gringa for a night or two -relax & practice your fishing skills!

[Edited on 4-9-2014 by DosMars]

JohnMcfrog - 4-9-2014 at 04:31 PM

I mountain bike at least once a week. In the closest mountains, there are not too many goat heads or cactus spines. Regular tubes work, so haven't really kept up with the technology.

Of the guys who ride with me are a group of moto guys, formerly competitive. All of them are riding tubeless, with Stan's rimtape and Stan's sealant. You tube on install:

All of these ex-moto guys have said no more goat head and cactus problems.. I plan to use them in Abreojos because of the goat heads.

mtgoat666 - 4-9-2014 at 04:37 PM

i would like to see a pic of the raft... curious what raft is light enough to carry on bike, but large enough to carry bike and gear and person...

DosMars - 4-9-2014 at 04:46 PM

Thanks for the video link John. Looks easy enough, I'm going to try tubeless on the fat-tire I bought off of Mark after his last trip up the canyon. He left me with a never ending flat rear tire with all of the thorns he picked up!

DosMars - 4-9-2014 at 04:50 PM

Originally posted by mtgoat666
i would like to see a pic of the raft... curious what raft is light enough to carry on bike, but large enough to carry bike and gear and person...

I think there's a link to a video a page or so ago. Very impressive little inflate able kayak type raft designed to get you in & out of the outback up north...

Barry A. - 4-10-2014 at 03:50 PM

Hopefully "Part 9" is soon to be posted. I love reading and thinking about this great adventure, and the writer is great----love all the detail, truly!!!

Barry (Bump--- to keep this thread current---- (-: )

DosMars - 4-10-2014 at 04:19 PM

Part 9 is in the can, I've got mark emailing these to me ahead of posting here so I can get a sneak peak of what's coming up... :-)

It'll be up soon!

DosMars - 4-10-2014 at 04:30 PM

Here's a teaser...

Part 9 - Packrafting the Coast to Candelero

The next morning the winds were dead. I had prepared a lot of my stuff for the boat ride the day before but I still had a bunch to do in the morning. I got up early because I wanted to make it all the way to Candelero, 12 km to the south. But I would have to launch in sync with the tide...:spingrin:

Mark_BC - 4-10-2014 at 04:41 PM

Can't access my emails for some reason. Sent you a u2u Mark.

Part 9 - Packrafting the Coast to Candelero

The next morning the winds were dead. I had prepared a lot of my stuff for the boat ride the day before but I still had a bunch to do in the morning. I got up early because I wanted to make it all the way to Candelero, 12 km to the south.  But I would have to launch in sync with the tide. 

I filled my packraft pontoons with most of my stuff, minus my backpack, bike, trailer, full water bottles, and other various items I'd be needing on deck over the day. It all went in. I videotaped the transformation but unfortunately the memory card ran out after the first item went in! I'll have to redo that scene. The last items to go in were my two bike panniers, which just barely fit. Then I zipped it up and finished inflating it. 

I carried it down to the rocks to where I thought the tide would be a half hour later. That would give me time to lash the bike and everything else on the front. Unfortunately the lobster trap wasn't coming... no space. I got it all in and then waited for the tide to float it. It eventually did of course and I managed to push my way through the remaining rocks out to oceanic freedom.

I soon noticed that the weight distribution on water was not the same as on land. The front bicycle fork was dragging in the water and the disc brake was completely submerged. This also affected the boat's tracking. Not good! But there was nothing I could do about it now. I had taped pieces of plastic over all the other sensitive components to protect from splashes but that wouldn't help with full submergence! And I strapped my backpack to the back of the boat but the looseness in the strapping allowed it to slide down to touch the water. I'll have to add a couple more grab patches further forward to cinch it up. 

I slowly plodded my way south. I was a few hundred meters offshore and noticed that I was going slower relative to the shore than to the water, so I was fighting the current, which made sense in a rising tide. So I went in and hugged the shoreline.  A fishing boat came by and waved hello. They probably thought I was crazy. It turns out you could probably push your bike about 3 km south along the rock beach down to that big beach that faces northeast. After that it would be impassable by shore. 

It was dead calm and really hot in my cramped and black little boat. But I just kept motoring along beside the desolate but dramatic cliffs. Some were being used by hawks as nesting sites. There is nothing in the way of kelp beds along this section. 

As long as you are moving though you'll get there so it didn't matter that I was slow. After about 7 km I hit the Spot GPS and noticed a bird boil. I decided to race out to it. It was a half km offshore again. I got into the middle of the action, noted the fish scales in the water, remnants from the undersea carnage, and casted with my 25 ft of line (I had shortened it to prevent jamming). This worked and I got one bite. This fish was quite a bit larger than the barracuda so probably a yellowtail. It broke the line, or maybe my knot wasn't strong enough and it came off. I put another steel leader and lure on but no more bites. Too bad.

I returned closer to shore but kept trolling. Right around the corner was a nice sandy beach with a fish camp. It would be a good protected spot during the northern gales.

I contemplated stopping there but it was only a few more km to Candelero so I decided to go for it. I wasn't sure if I'd paddle all the way down to Bahia Guadalupe or ride; based on the amount of seawater splashing on my bike, I'd probably ride as this is really not good for it. 

I pulled in on a high but falling tide which was ideal since there were no barnacles on these high rocks and the falling tide ensured the boat wouldn't re-float. But there were some decent waves from the north hitting this beach, with the fetch being the northern half of the Sea of Cortez. The currents had shifted my direction as the tide started going out, and there was a slight tailwind. These were all perfect conditions for my paddle that day.

The sun soon went down behind the adjacent hill and immediately a dew covered everything since the winds were so calm. I pulled everything up to the pebble area above high tide line and set up camp. There is a larger flat but dustier area a few feet higher that is the official campsite, accessed by "road". There were tire tracks so I was definitely at the right place. 

I immediately soaked the front brake in fresh water for half an hour, using the smelly stagnant water from the oasis. I used about 4 liters of water that day, which was good considering all the sweating I was doing in my cramped boat in the blazing sun. I should be able to bring that down to less than 3 sitting on the beach all day. 

I was eating lots of energy bars, more than I budgeted for. I just couldn't help myself, I was so hungry. I had enchiladas for dinner. I was going to spend the next day or two here desalinating enough water to get me back by land. I'd have to see how much I could desalinate per day. 

As it got dark the crashing waves glowed green from phosphorescence, which is light released by planktonic algae when disturbed. It was a beautiful scene. And I desalinated a liter of water that evening in the dark, and the phosphorescence was in the water I was filtering. They accumulated in the prefilter of my backpacking filter so that would light up with green sparkles every time I pumped. 

I had 8 liters of water in the morning. I wanted 4 days worth ideally, to get me across the desert by bike with enough extra to cover any unexpected delays. That would be about 16 liters. So I had to desalinate 8 liters. But I also had to desalinate 3 liters per day just to stay even, so in reality I needed to desalinate 14 liters if it took me 2 days. That was a lot of water. Sorry to bore you with all the details about my water production and consumption statistics, but I want to record it for future reference, and it might be useful for someone else. 

I set up the distiller pot and thankfully there was lots of wood on the beach. I also got going on the pumping. The pumping is boring and tiring. It requires full attention and if you stop, you have to waste the first 2 minutes of new water after starting up again because salt diffuses across the membrane if you don't maintain the pressure. So it requires full attention for about an hour to bang off a liter. And I prefiltered the water too to prolong the RO membrane. And in order to save prefiltered water, I redirected the brine discharge line back into the seawater container being desalinated. But this causes the water to get saltier and saltier as you desalinate it. So I could do that only until it used about a third of the water, at which point it became too salty, and then I switched to a new bottle. So overall, I used 3 bottles of prefiltered water for every 1 bottle of desalinated water I made. A lot of work. If I had some reading material the time would have gone by better but I didn't. Instead, I just lay there in the heat of my tent and pumped, shifting positions every once in a while as my muscles tired.

Someone had recommended I go with the larger Survivor 30 unit, rather than the 06 model I was using which is intended more for emergency life raft use. But it's three times heavier at 3 kg and a lot longer, making for more difficult transport on a bike. But in retrospect I should have gotten the larger one as it's no fun spending half the day pumping. And an extra 2 kg isn't much when I'm typically hauling 15 liters anyways. 

Then there was the distilling pot. This consists of a 2 liter stainless steel camping pot with a gasketed lid that clamps down and seals the top. In the center of the lid I drilled a hole through which some brass fittings go to direct the steam out. These attach to a 5' long quarter inch flexible copper pipe that feeds down to the bottom of my stainless water bottle sitting in a cold seawater bath somewhere down below the pot. Basically, as the steam comes out it cools a bit as it goes through 5 feet of pipe, then bubbles through the previously condensed steam in the water bottle, and collapses itself upon hitting the cooler water, adding more water to the bottle. 

This works well when the fire gets going but it's not quite as fast as the hand pump. And it also allows you to do other things while it's working, as long as you come back to tend the fire every few minutes. And it requires firewood, but it doesn't actually use that much since you don't need a huge roaring fire. You don't actually want that; all you need is a consistent flame under the pot. So it's not like I denuded the beach of wood. 

And it also allows you to cook food on the fire since you already have everything going; no stove needed. But it is a bit finicky and dirty, and hot. And you have to add in the time it takes to get the water up to a boil, since when I boiled about half of it away it was time to start with a new batch. One way to increase production would be to use two pots, with a smaller one that nests inside the larger one when packed up. This would probably bring production rates up to that of the hand pump. 

Overall, I can't say I prefer either method; it depends on my mood. The pump is cleaner but very boring. The distiller is more finicky but not as mentally frustrating. It's good to have both though; the distiller pot is a good low-tech backup to the filter in case it fails. 

In all I spent two days on the rocky Candelero beach desalinating water and getting my gear back together ready to ride up the wash. There were no bird boils to go chase. At one point though a big pelican swooped in and landed 15 feet away to check me out. After 5 minutes he flew off. And one day a scallop diving boat was poking around various places off the beach. On the evening of the last night a pair of coyotes visited camp. I heard the empty water bottles by my tent moving and assumed it was a mouse. But then I turned to look out the beach and there was a dog standing 10 feet away! I yelled and scared them off but they were back in 5 minutes. That was it, I got up with my light, grabbed the copper pipe, bashed the rocks with it and chased them off, yelling really threateningly. That was enough, and I heard them later on in the night yipping off in the distance up the wash. No biggy; I was in their terrain so obviously they're going to come check me out.

I decided I'd head back into town. It was too hard desalinating water and it didn't leave enough time to forage for food. Plus I was getting lonely. It had been almost two weeks with no human interaction other than waving hello to fishermen. It's fun for the first week but then it gets lonely. The question was, would I go back via Guadalupe, or just head straight back to the highway? Guadalupe could be nice, but is a bit of an unknown trail for me. And I was really eating a lot of food so I didn't have as much as I originally thought. And when you're out there, it really hits home how dependent you are on food and water. Without it, you're toast. It's easy to say, "well I'll just forage for food". But when you're just on the edge of running out, it's a whole different mentality!

The winds had picked up too the last couple days. The waves get really big on this beach so I sure lucked out on the weather on my day of paddling. This reconfirmed my decision to ride back. Without a bike on the boat it wouldn't be a problem to packraft south; and even with one it can handle the waves. But my bike would have gotten soaked.

[Edited on 9-9-2014 by Mark_BC]

JohnMcfrog - 4-10-2014 at 05:22 PM


You are the man! Love the details and the honesty.


Mark_BC - 4-13-2014 at 10:09 AM

Part 10 - Back to Bay of LA

On the third morning of my stay at Candelero I had 12.5 liters of water. Conservatively, that would give me 3 days to get back to town, or alternatively "safety", being the highway where I could flag drivers down for water. So I thought that was good enough. 

I got up before sunrise and headed out early, by 9. I soon went by some smaller versions of the pink hills. Then I was in a little bit of shade beside the big hills which was nice. 

It wasn't long before I got to the tight double 180 degree turn in the canyon. It looks pretty intimidating on GE but it's all nice and sandy, no rocks.

And speaking of sand, I was concerned that the road would get increasingly sandy and difficult to ride as I went up the wash and the terrain turned into sandy lakebed. So far, it was gravelly, and I wasn't even on the "road" most if the time, instead just picking my way through the wash channels. 

The canyon widened as I went up and got pretty warm. I took a lunch of peanut butter on energy bars and dates and hit the Spot GPS. The road continued on up and yes it was getting more and more sandy, and more difficult to ride. And there was washboard too, which I am learning to hate with a passion. I think that should be someone's PhD research paper -- how washboard forms and how to prevent it. Maybe someone's already looked into it. So I actually rode up the sand adjacent to the road.

And  I think I figured out why some sand is firm and some is loose and difficult to ride. It doesn't have to do with age, it has to do with disturbance. After a rain, as the sand dries it draws salts up to the surface. These form a crust when they finally do dry that creates strength to the sand. As soon as something breaks this, the sand becomes loose. That would be quad tracks, 4x4 tracks, or animals. That's why the sand in the middle Salsipuedes was loose, because there was lots of little animal activity churning it up. On that larger tributary wash further up it was drier with no groundwater and didn't support as many animals. At least that's my theory. 

At one point I went up the wrong tributary wash but figured it out pretty fast and got back on track. I kept going up and knew that at some point I'd crest and start going down into the big dry lakebed. My goal for the night was the staging area I've camped at a few times. But that road just kept going up and up. Eventually it finally crested, around where I could have turned left to try that overland route up and over the other wash leading into Guadalupe. But the ground was a bit rocky and spiny and looked difficult. And I didn't have much goop left in the front tire. Plus I didn't have a lot of food or water so I decided to skip it and maybe try again sometime when better provisioned. You gotta leave something for next time!

So I started coasting down into the lakebed and went over a spiny branch and the front tire started hissing. It was barely lunchtime and I was hoping it would last until the campsite where I could take everything apart and fix it. But no, this one went down fast. Only 1.5 km from my campsite, it died and I had to fix it there.

I took the front tire off and checked for spines. I found them, pulled them out, cleaned up the tire, and tried to get the tire goop to seal up the hole in the innertube. But it wasn't working; maybe the hole was too big, or I'd had so many holes that the goop was loosing its rubber ingredients and effectiveness. All it was doing was squirting goop on the ground so I basically had none left. But I did have a few cc's collected in the tire... So I got out an old film canister I was putting fishing lures in and scooped it out. The syringe needed to inject the goop in the tube was buried over at the detour down Guadalupe that I'd be passing the next day. So I had to put a few patches on the innertube. No big deal, just like a regular tire flat.

I managed to get on the road again and pulled into camp early afternoon. I was hoping to mount the Gopro to the trailer, something I hadn't had time for previously. The issue is that it really vibrates back there. So I solved that with my specialized mounting technique of wrapping the hell out if it with the stringy packing tape I had brought for packing up the bike boxes...

I think it worked, but I won't know until I review the video later. It's a good mount position if you can get it to stop vibrating. 

Other than that I just relaxed and organized. Hummingbirds came by, attracted to all the flourescent pink and orange on the reflectors and zippers. It's not really so desolate out there. The wind was pretty strong from the north so I chose a sheltered spot behind some rocks, up against the hill. I looked up and noticed some precarious rocks on the talus slope ready to fall down on me. I'd have no chance if one rolled down. But then I reasoned that they've been up there for what, like a million years? And there were basically none in the sandy lakebed where I was. So the chances were pretty slim. 

That night was still and very cold. I was sure it would freeze and my water would turn to ice but it didn't seem to. And I managed to escape death by falling rocks. I guess I still have 7 lives left. 

I was going to try to get over to near the highway that day and camp there.  No point in getting into town in the evening. That destination shouldn't be too difficult over the mostly flat road. 

I went by that rock cairn in the second lakebed. I'm not sure what it says, I think it marks where someone died. I'll get my Mexican friend to translate for me. 

At the junction to Guadalupe I dug up my stash exactly as I had left it, and right around there I noted the motorbike track heading west away over to the Yubay area. I'd like to ride that on my bike someday. 

I climbed the hill between the two lakes which was more work than expected in the midday heat and headwinds. Finally I summitted and descended the rocky road leading down into the first lakebed. It seemed to go on longer than I remember in a car! That probably had a lot to do with the increasing headwind.

I had lunch under the shade of another tree. It's good that there are trees out here every once in a while. I dropped a date in the sand. I guess some mouse was going to hit the jackpot that night. Then I was back on the road in the heat. 

Then two dune buggies came up behind me -- Americans staying in Bay of LA that had been all over. We chatted for a while and then they were off again in a cloud of dust. 

The dust wasn't just from the buggies though, it was actually from the wind, strong enough to be creating dust devils and whipping salt up off the lakebed. And I'd have to ride through that. 

The headwinds got stronger and stronger as I made my way across the salt bed. It was brutal, but I just told myself what I always do -- if you just keep moving you'll eventually get there.

I finally did and instead of going to the highway I turned left and headed for the tower and the well water pump station for town. At least then I was only in crosswinds. 

I was totally drained and when I got there the pump was too noisy to camp. I plodded on another km or so and took shelter behind a creosote bush and set up camp. The winds didn't seem to be dying. 

I basically just made dinner and went to bed. It was nice to be back in civilization again; I hadn't spoken to anyone in 2 weeks. And the desert was in bloom here with fields of pink, white and yellow flowers. It was really beautiful and the smells of the flowers helped take the edge off a brutal day and exhausted body. 

Salt caked on the spoke nipples. I'd have to wash that off sometime soon.

The wind kept up all night and I packed up fast the next morning; I think I was out by 8. I had 4.5 liters of water that morning, meaning I used 4 per day to get there; that's pretty good considering how hard I worked. I estimated that well, with a bit of spare capacity in case something went wrong. So my math paid off!

This day promised to be totally different than the previous. The headwinds were now tailwinds! I pumped up the tires and flew down that highway!

It wasn't hard getting to the summit and after that it was all downhill. I didn't pedal, and couldn't pedal, since my gearing didn't go that high. I intentionally built the bike with low gearing to help with grinding through tough terrain and to limit myself from going too fast. But with that slope and tailwind I didn't need gearing! I was probably doing 50 or 60 km/hr and made it into town by 9:30.

I felt like half the day had gone by but the town was just opening up. I immediately stopped at China's taco stand which wasn't open yet, and went on the internet. I loaded up with food from the store and rode north of town to check in for camping at Daggett's. The rest is history...

I had 2 weeks before Mark and Morgan and everyone else was going to come down with their 4x4's to go spearfishing at Guadalupe and across at Isla Angel de la Guardia. I was going to meet them on the beach at Guadalupe, getting over via the motorbike track from la Gringa. In the meantime, I'd recuperate and write the trip report which, if you're reading this, I apparently have done, except for the chapters yet to come at Guadalupe with my friends!

[Edited on 9-9-2014 by Mark_BC]

[Edited on 5-2-2016 by Mark_BC]

David K - 4-13-2014 at 10:26 AM

You prove that Baja is the land of adventure! Thank you Mark!

Barry A. - 4-13-2014 at 11:53 AM

Part 10 was a good as the rest---------well done, Marc. I thouroughly enjoyed it, despite the vicariousness of it all. You have given the best report on this area I have seen since ESG escapades with his friends outlined in his book.


woody with a view - 4-13-2014 at 12:56 PM

standing-by for the next chapter(s)......

Skipjack Joe - 4-13-2014 at 04:17 PM

Thank you Mark. This was a most excellent read.
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