Salsipuedes Canyon by Fatbike

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David K - 4-7-2014 at 11:00 PM

Originally posted by woody with a view
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.....

Sounds like what Erle Stanley Gardner used to say!

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.

soulpatch - 4-13-2014 at 07:40 PM

Again, super cool.

larryC - 4-14-2014 at 07:35 AM

If you get south of town about 5 k stop in at Ranco Pacifico and I'll buy you a beer. I'd love to compare stories and hear more about that abandoned camp.

DosMars - 4-26-2014 at 09:26 PM

Just pulled into the driveway with Mark & the family...!

woody with a view - 4-26-2014 at 09:45 PM

standing by.................

Neal Johns - 4-27-2014 at 08:59 AM

Fantastic adventure, great writing! Many thanks.

Have you seen this site?

durrelllrobert - 4-27-2014 at 10:48 AM‎

Howdy, fat-bike friends! Sven here. Gomez and I have been working on putting together Fat-Bike Radio to do audio shows and we did a test episode yesterday to work out some details. This was our first shot at making a show and Uncle Gomez and I took it easy to get a feel for what we want to do. We’ve got mad plans! But check it out and let us know what you think.

We’ve got a lot more ideas for content but would like to hear from you and what you’d like to hear.

We updated our Tire Weights Page -

Fat-bike Radio – Show #1 – Click below to Play!

Mark_BC - 4-27-2014 at 11:32 AM

Yes just decompressing now. Sorry Larry, I got a mangy little puppy from Guerrero Negro and she took up all my time, couldn't make it over. Next time.

We had a chance meeting with TW on the gravel south of Gonzaga. He recognized the bike!

Photos to come in a week or so, I got some good ones!

David K - 4-27-2014 at 01:37 PM

Great running into Nomads on dirt roads in Baja!

brewer - 3-24-2015 at 10:11 PM

That is one hell of a great story. I'd love to get in there sometime with my boys. Thanks.

[Edited on 3-25-2015 by brewer]

ehall - 3-25-2015 at 04:35 AM

Yes it is. Sucks you in enough to read all 22 pages.

David K - 3-25-2015 at 06:17 AM

You know you can change the settings so you can read more posts per page (in user control panel, top right)... For me this is page 15.


woody with a view - 3-25-2015 at 06:17 AM

yeah, can you imagine? some of those places have prolly never had another human stand in that spot.

Not to worry

durrelllrobert - 3-25-2015 at 10:12 AM

Crossing that arroyo is a piece of cake

Mark_BC - 4-6-2015 at 02:54 PM

Hey good to see people still interested in this. Man I've been itching to get back there ever since. I'm all over Google Earth looking at the terrain in nearby canyons. I'd like to try a south to north trip, maybe go in the same way but then turn left at the junction with Asamblea and then you only need to go about 4 kilometers up and you can see it's pretty easy to go overland into the next canyons to the north, eventually coming out near Calamajue with the help of the packraft over certain sections. Also I'd like to go up Asamblea as far as I can, it looks like there are some neat oases up there. I'd bring a bigger desalinator next time, I wasted too much time pumping last trip. Maybe even hook it up to the bike so I can pedal it while stationary...

Also trying to put together a movie of the trip, but I'm so busy. Just gotta get my priorities straight... It's been a year now so I really need to get that together.

I went back to Baja again in October with Mark (DosMars) for a quick trip to Punta Final and across G Negro. Looked for another puppy but couldn't find one. P. Final was really nice snorkelling. Oh man I got the Baja itch...

larryC - 4-6-2015 at 03:13 PM

Couldn't find a stray dog in Baja. That's a new one. Just camp on any beach and a dog will adopt you.

Bob53 - 4-6-2015 at 05:47 PM

Larry's dog adopted my tires. All of them!

larryC - 4-6-2015 at 06:34 PM

That's his job, no dry tires.

Santiago - 4-6-2015 at 07:44 PM

Quote: Originally posted by larryC  
That's his job, no dry tires.


güéribo - 4-7-2015 at 09:18 AM

Just read the whole trip report. Thank you so much for taking the time to post such beautiful scenery and wildlife photos, and let us travel along with you. I can't wait until you take another trip--fantastic report. May be the best thing I've ever read on the board.

Bob53 - 4-7-2015 at 01:16 PM

Quote: Originally posted by woody with a view  
yeah, can you imagine? some of those places have prolly never had another human stand in that spot.

That is the same feeling I had while camping and exploring on Baranof Island, about 50 miles south of Sitka, AK., near the shoreline of Whale Bay.

woody with a view - 4-7-2015 at 03:51 PM


Bob53 - 4-7-2015 at 04:28 PM

Quote: Originally posted by woody with a view  

Ok, that's scary.

woody with a view - 4-7-2015 at 04:31 PM



Bob53 - 4-7-2015 at 05:11 PM

Not the face, just the thought of you getting an idea in your head. lol

woody with a view - 4-7-2015 at 05:35 PM


David K - 4-30-2016 at 02:05 PM

Time to bump one of the more outstanding threads on Nomad!

DosMars - 5-1-2016 at 02:01 PM

Spoke with Mark not too long ago. He's researching another route into the canyon system from the North.
He's definitely hooked on this area of Baja!

[Edited on 5-1-2016 by DosMars]

4x4abc - 5-1-2016 at 03:17 PM

now that was an epic adventure

I wonder if the bike was really an advantage

Mark_BC - 5-2-2016 at 08:40 AM

Hey guys good to see you are still interested. I meant to finish off the report but never got around to it. I don't know why I said the rest of the trip would be boring in comparison, no way! I'll have to edit that out. DosMars and everyone else came down and we went up to Guadalupe and did a couple days of spearfishing, saw a sperm whale. Also I got a dog! Wow was it 2 years ago, time flies.

I'm still super excited about going back. I have a route in from the north heading from one wash to the next, I figure I'll end up near salsipuedes beach and meet DosMars there after he gets dropped off with a panga, then get picked up again in a few days. Just need to find the time, I'm hoping for Oct nov this year, we'll see how the jobs go.

The bike was definitely necessary. I don't know how you'd lug all that water without it. I just put an order in for a monowalker fatmate for a mountain trip I'm going to do up here in bc this summer where the bush is too thick for a bike but I don't want all the gear on my back. Might work for a desert trip as long as you don't need to bring 40 litres of water with you.

DosMars - 5-2-2016 at 09:38 AM

Very cool Kickstarter product there. Looks like something you should have come up with Mark!
Looks like we're heading down a week later in June if that works better for your schedule. We'll be renting a pang for one day. May head south to scout out the coastline a bit...

[Edited on 5-2-2016 by DosMars]

Fatboy - 12-16-2016 at 08:21 PM

Awesome story!
Awesome pictures!
Awesome Thread!

Mark_BC - 11-24-2017 at 11:31 PM

I have some great news, I'm heading back in in! I have a month off over December / January so I'll drive down in my 4runner, and the plan is to park it at Coco's Corner and then head in from the north and make my way out the south end. Lots to do to prepare! The new bike isn't even finished yet, still needs paint!!!

mtgoat666 - 11-25-2017 at 08:15 AM

Sounds like a most excellent adventure!

I remember your trip story of a few years ago.
Will you post your old trip map and planned trip map?

4x4abc - 11-25-2017 at 01:58 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Mark_BC  
I have some great news, I'm heading back in in! I have a month off over December / January so I'll drive down in my 4runner, and the plan is to park it at Coco's Corner and then head in from the north and make my way out the south end. Lots to do to prepare! The new bike isn't even finished yet, still needs paint!!!

the south end of what?

Mark_BC - 11-25-2017 at 05:31 PM

Quote: Originally posted by 4x4abc  
Quote: Originally posted by Mark_BC  
I have some great news, I'm heading back in in! I have a month off over December / January so I'll drive down in my 4runner, and the plan is to park it at Coco's Corner and then head in from the north and make my way out the south end. Lots to do to prepare! The new bike isn't even finished yet, still needs paint!!!

the south end of what?

The south end of the Asamblea Mountains. Either meet friends in Bahia Guadalupe or make my way out to the BoLA highway.

David K - 11-25-2017 at 05:38 PM

So good to see you back in action, Mark!

woody with a view - 11-25-2017 at 07:28 PM

Mark good to see you back here! Safe travels!

Mark_BC - 12-26-2017 at 08:26 PM

OK we're heading down tomorrow. Here is the map page. Should be fun but I will have to backtrack out the way I go in because I don't have time to do a full circle and it is too windy this time of year to packraft out, I won't bring it to save space. I'm going in from the north. It looks clear except there is one section that might have a Botica-like cliff. Doesn't look too bad though.

[Edited on 12-27-2017 by Mark_BC]

Mark_BC - 12-26-2017 at 09:28 PM

I noticed my Photobucket images don't work. You can download this Chrome workaround. Eventually I'll convert them all to Flickr.

joerover - 12-26-2017 at 09:50 PM

Will you take the time to look for pinturas respuestas or cave paintings or other signs of early inhabitants? A fat bike would work good at Montevideo just the other side of the Bola highway

David K - 12-27-2017 at 09:38 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Mark_BC  
I noticed my Photobucket images don't work. You can download this Chrome workaround. Eventually I'll convert them all to Flickr.

Hi Mark, what Photobucket did was stop those with free accounts from posting photos on forums (3rd party hosting). TW, myself, and others simply paid up to the first level that allowed photo sharing here... about $40-50, I recall. is a free site and can be easily pre-set for Nomad's 800-pixel max. width, before uploading.

Mark_BC - 12-28-2017 at 08:19 PM

Joerover, I'll keep an eye out. My friends mark and josh want to hike up with me for the first day then turn back.

Davidk, I recall photo bucket wanted $400 minimum which is ridiculous. Maybe they came out with a more reasonable option. I can stomach $40 a year until switch them over away from photobucket.

Mark had some engine problems north of the border and had to get them fixed and he's coming down now so we'll head down from San Felipe tomorrow, only lost a couple days out of it. Im in San Felipe now.

David K - 1-3-2018 at 12:24 PM

Mark, with this app, all your photos from Photobucket are again showing up. See the post today by Jaybo for the link to the app (if you use Chrome or Firefox):

Troyeb - 1-3-2018 at 11:52 PM

Hi Mark, me troye from San Felipe/Gonzaga - heard wonderful things about the canyon. I met the ultimate non-pervy guru of the Baja in a sweet man name poncho at the mostincredible spear fishingand shore casting location possible. I caught 11 species there, 70 nmiles remote. You and theother mark should getin touch for details. Nice to have met you.

DosMars - 1-4-2018 at 03:08 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Troyeb  
Hi Mark, me troye from San Felipe/Gonzaga - heard wonderful things about the canyon. I met the ultimate non-pervy guru of the Baja in a sweet man name poncho at the mostincredible spear fishingand shore casting location possible. I caught 11 species there, 70 nmiles remote. You and theother mark should getin touch for details. Nice to have met you.

Hi Troye, other Mark here!
Great to have met you too. I'm guessing you got chased off the island by the wind? Sory we didn't have time to touch bases before you got back from the water but I turned around and noticed our window was closing as the tide was rising. Sounds like you were able to break in your spear?
Good luck on the rest of your trip. Start a thread here and upload some pictures!

Mark's back at his car. He took a spill and punctured a couple of his water bottles on the way up to the ridge. He decided to head back out rather than head in with less water than he felt comfortable with during the treck up and in.

Mark_BC - 1-13-2018 at 09:35 AM

Hey everyone, ya I decided to turn back at the pass. I was being silly and trying to push my fully laden bike up a steep section and it fell on me and I bashed up my knees. No structural damage but they were grazed and I didn't want to risk infection form the constant chaffing of riding a bike or hiking. Plus I was poking holes in my water bottles. Previously I used my kayak paddles to protect them but I didn't bring the packraft this time and didn't clue into this. I still had plenty of water but if I decided to go in, I'd have to desalinate at the ocean which might have been pushing it in terms of having enough water to get back out.

So there is a nice motorbike trail up to the pass there. Apparently some American guys have ridden the entire route through to Bay of LA. I'd like to try again with boat support and water drops on the beaches,m to avoid needing to desalinate. Also go with other people since it's a bit dicey by myself. With the proper planning you could ride all the way from Calamajue to Bay of LA.

I'll post a trip report when I get organised.

Good to meet you Troy, I'll have to head down further some other time and check out the fishing.

David K - 1-13-2018 at 10:09 AM

Glad you got out safe and decided to not make any risks we all would regret! I would like to know where this pass is.

The motorcycle track you mention sounds like a Bill Nichols track. TMW has posted Google Earth maps showing the Bill Nichols route.

Bill wanted to create routes across Baja that avoided paved roads (and major dirt roads, too). His first famous trail was across Baja from just south of Puertecitos to Highway 1 (and on to the Pacific). Another is what you may have seen, across Baja to L.A. Bay (north of the paved road)?

David K - 10-17-2018 at 02:43 PM

Long time since we heard from Mark...

ehall - 10-18-2018 at 08:22 AM

Wonder how those canyons are after the recent storms

David K - 10-18-2018 at 09:10 AM

More palm trees washed out to the sea!
When my kids and I camped at Punta Candelero (that is where the road north over the two dry lake beds ends) the rock beach there was loaded with flash flood palm debris that probably flushed out of La Asamblea/Salsipuedes system, which empties into the gulf just north of Candelero.

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