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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 10:56 AM
Baja Amigos Off-Road Adventure


Baja Amigos Off-Road Adventure

April 2014

Itís a sunny Tuesday morning April 15th south of San Felipe as six amigos finish packing for fun and adventure. Rudy, Tim, Fred, and Robert had packed all the frozen food in specially lined coolers to keep them frozen longer. Ron and Tom, thatís me, have joined them for this fun and interesting trip. Three 4x4 mini-trucks are loaded to the brim. Everything we need and then some for our 10 day journey into the back roads and trails of Baja.

The crew and task assigned:
Fred: Food and Beverage Maintenance Specialist.
Ron: Equipment Maintenance Specialist (mechanic).
Rudy: Logistics and Equipment Coordinator.
Robert: Chief Chef (cook).
Tim: Historian and Rock Specialist.
Tom: Guide and Trip Planner.

L-R Fred Ron Rudy Robert Tim Tom


Itís down hwy 5 to Gonzaga Bay on the ever reaching paved hwy, then on to Cocoís Corner. We off load supplies for Coco and chat a bit. Then itís off to hwy 1 and further south into Baja Sur. As will play out in the days to come our MO will be to get on the road at or near 8am and stop for the night around 4pm. Our first night is at Campo Rene off the hwy to Punta Abreojos. A camp on an inlet from the ocean with showers, a restaurant and bar, several palapas and motel type housing for those who donít want to rough it. Robert is the official chef on this trip and we are not disappointed at dinner.




Wednesday morning after an excellent breakfast, which will become standard, weíre on the road to San Ignacio for ice and gas. Through the town square and out toward the Laguna. About 20 miles out of town we turn off for the village of El Patrocino. At El Patrocino we inquire about the road to San Juan de Las Pilas. The locals told us it was passable to get there but rough in places. The road was OK to good up to a Rancho shown as San Alfonso in the almanac. There were many people celebrating Easter holidays. We were told getting to Las Pilas was possible but the road was rough as we were to find out and the road was closed after the rancho.



I made it up a deep sand hill but the others were having trouble so out came the tow straps and I pulled the first Nissan up then we did a tandem pull to get the other Nissan up. Soon afterwards the two Nissan trucks decided to stop and wait for us to visit Las Pilas and return. Ron and I made our way to the Rancho. We were greeted by Jesus and Guadalupe, Lupe to her family and friends. They were warm and friendly and invited us to have a snack with them. I provided Jesus with a cerveza and Lupe with a coke. When they found out we had two other trucks waiting for us to come back they insisted we get them and camp at their ranch and we did.


Jesus and Lupe




San Juan de Las Pilas has cattle, horses, and donkeys. They grow a large garden of many vegetables. The next morning Jesus took us up stream to see the paintings on the rocks about a mile away. Along the way we could see the vast water irrigation system for the garden, the house and for the animals. All from a spring feeding into a very large concrete holding tank. He showed us two mountain lion skins he had shot. They told us the road toward Mulege had been closed for three years. After walking to the paintings we could see why, the old road was gone. It was about noon and we had to leave. It was such a pleasure being there. Soon we are back to San Ignacio and on hwy 1 we make it to the San Lucas RV and camp ground.


Notice there is no road anywhere.





Friday the 18th another great breakfast and itís off to Mulege. Ice and gas and out of town we go taking the turn-off for Rayís place or as others would say the Ice House Rd. We follow the dirt road out of to a sign with an arrow to La Trinidad. Then to the Rancho Las Cuevitas where we take the road toward the San Raymundo Arroyo and road. The road is like a roller coaster at times with steep up hills and down a fun ride for sure. At the junction for San Raymundo and San Estanislao we take the San Raymundo road. The sign says itís 80 kilometers or 50 miles to La Ballena. However it turns out to be only 38 miles. Itís a good road overall. We pass ranchos and cross the stream bed several times.

Weird tree along the way




At La Ballena we turn toward San Juancio and on to La Purisima. We take the race course turn-off about 10 KMs south and wow was it torn up by the rains. At an area shown as Los Burros in the almanac I felt I had taken the wrong road. I did not recognize any of it. Rudy went ahead and asked the people at the rancho if it was the road to La Purisima and they said yes so we went on. We camped near where the road crosses the water short of the paved hwy.


On the San Raymundo road Fred was having problems with his brakes. The pedal would go to the floor but on the paved road out of San Juancio they seemed OK. So Saturday morning we decide to head to CD Constitucion for brake parts. After bleeding the brakes it was decided the master cylinder needed replacing. After going to six auto parts stores we finally found one. Ron would replace it at the camp site in the morning. Of course we must have lunch but Rudyís favorite Menudo place is closed so itís off to his second choice for a chunky pork soup. An excellent choice.

Leaving Constitucion itís up hwy 53 to the San Javier turn off at KM27. The road to San Javier is a good road most of the way then we start crossing the San Javier arroyo with its rocky stream bed several times. They are not big rocks just a slow you down type, 4x4 not required. At San Javier itís a tour of the church and grounds then on to the Comondu road. Shortly after turning onto the Comondu road there was a family setting up camp and I asked about the road and the man said it was rough while shaking his head. Boy was it ever. Nothing like it was last November when I came thru. It was slow going on a long up hill in 4x4 low range. The rocks were not real big just lots of them. Soon we come to Palo Chino an abandoned ranch. We make this our camp for the night and ready ourselves for another excellent dinner by Chef Robert, we were not disappointed.




The road is much rougher that it looks.




Sunday morning April 20. Ron and Fred change the brakes master cylinder on Fredís truck. We pack up and continue to the Comondus. Along the way Fred says he still does not have brakes. At Comondu we look around the church and check out the town near the church. Back on the road to San Isidro. The road is much better. The road grading is now about 12 miles from San Isidro toward the Comondus and in great shape. At San Isidro we decide not to take the Guajademi road to Mulege but instead go out to hwy 1 and down to Loreto and see if we can get the brakes fixed.





This is how some people get their water in San Isidro


Mtn. Goats on the road from San Isidro to hwy 1


In Loreto we get rooms at the Desert Inn and a hot shower. That evening we eat dinner in town and most of us order a hamburger and fries, go figure. Monday morning we also eat in town at a local shop and have an excellent breakfast. After breakfast we split up while Fred goes looking for a brake repair shop with Rudy. Robert and Ron look for a welding shop to fix Rudyís front bumper guard. Tim and I go site seeing around town. We all meet back at the PEMEX on hwy 1 as you leave town to the south.

All seems OK or is it? North we go to San Ignacio for gas and ice. Soon we are on the No Wimps Trail. This will be the reverse of what Phil and I did in January. Itís up to the Santa Marta jct. and on to El Gato for the night. El Gato is a large rock corral with a deep well and concrete holding tank on the east side of the road and a smaller rock corral on the west side. To our dismay the brakes are still no good off road but OK on the highway. We will give this much thought as the cool night and clear skies are a perfect setting for sweet dreams.



Tuesday April 22. We wind our way thru Arroyo La Trinidad to the Sea of Cortez near Punta Trinidad. Then up along the beautiful sea side coast past the salt flats and on to Los Corrales. Along the way is a rope across the road with a cup on the post, a sort of toll road request. There is a tent and other packingís but otherwise no one is there. Further up I somehow manage to get us lost just south of the 28th parallel as we make our way west and around the hills. A couple of wrong turns and weíre down a dead end canyon. But never fear my GPS is near and I see the error of my ways and back on track we go. We stop at a palapa on a hill and notice a man on the high side overlooking the ocean where we had been before going west. Could this be the guy with the tent and toll cup, maybe but that was a ways back? We see him and are sure he sees us but since he makes no attempt to signal for us we assume he is a kayaker taking a rest.





Go figure, boy did it smell.





We turn inland and soon stop at the Shrine for lunch. Back on the road I again get us lost by taking the wrong road at the fork. In my defense it was the one with the tire tracks where the other had none. Back to the fork and the right side was the right one. Itís Rancho Ilusion and out their gate to El Barril then over to San Francisquito for the night. A farmer from Sacramento stops by on an ATV for a nice chat about the area and it was he who told us about the sale of the facilities there. Later clear skies and the lapping of waves make for a sound sleep.




Wednesday April 23. The road from San Francisquito to LA Bay has been recently graded and in great shape except for a couple of rough spots. We stop at Panchos dropping off some can food etc. There are several fishing boats in the surf and a small group of people with them staying at Panchos. There is also a Canadian gentleman there and we all have a good chat before leaving. In LA Bay we camp at Daggets. A shave and hot shower is most welcome.



Dead Squid at Las Animas on the way to LA Bay


Ever see a Squid's eye. They have sharp beaks too.




Thursday we move on to the San Borja turnoff and out to the Montevideo rock paintings. Along the way we see an orange moss on the elephant trees, Iím told thatís not good for the tree. The road to the San Borja Mission is on the rough side to say the least. At the mission we have a guided tour of it inside, outside and topside. Itís such an interesting facility with the old robes and artifacts and beautiful paintings. The mother and son that let us in gave the tour were excellent hosts. We leave taking the road to hwy 1 at Nuevo Rosarito, it was much better than the road from hwy 12.



I'm told this is not good for the tree.


Another Weird Tree





At the El Crucero turn-off we meet several motorcycle riders that had just come out from Cocos on the Baja 1000 course. They were just a group of friends on a ride. Also there was a van and trailer with the Chris Haines tour group. The man driving the van said they had 8 riders coming out but added they were slow riders. We decide to go in toward Mission Calamajue. We are careful looking for dust and any sound of a motorcycle coming toward us as well as having our lights on. We stop from time to time to survey whatís ahead. Soon we make it to a nice camp spot and about 30 minutes or so later the bikers come thru. They donít look slow to us as they were on the throttle.



Not much left at Calamajue


Friday April 25. The winds have picked up thru the night. Breakfast was light but still a Robert masterpiece of burritos. Instead of taking the race course road to the main road that goes to Bahia Calamajue we follow tire tracks down the wash toward the fish camp. Well while it was my ideal it was not one of my better ones. After losing the tire tracks and getting a GPS reading it was decided to go cross country to the road. The road from about KM25 to the fish camp has some major damage from the rains over the years but there is a good side road in the sand. The fish camp is abandoned with the two main buildings still there. Not much left of the rest of the area some small buildings and whatís left of a couple of trucks and campers. There are people staying there bagging shells for commercial sales.


Where they smoke the fish.


Not much left of the fish camp.



Itís back on the road and up to Cocos for a cold beer and catching up on the latest news and happenings. Then up to the La Turquesa mine for a look see. Later we turn off and visit the Las Palmitas area with its many tall palm trees. The road going in was washed out on the downhill to the Santa Maria Arroyo so we were detoured down a very deep sand hill. Thinking we would not be able to get back up we follow the tire tracks east in the arroyo. As we get to the main road to Gonzaga the road working crew has piled large piles of sand and dirt on the west side of the road. We had to turn south until we find an opening to the road. Finally on the road we stop for gas at the PEMEX. Itís now the highway to Rudyís place.

Cocos


The Turquesa Mine.


Palm Trees.


The end of an area is coming soon.


Saturday April 26. After a good nightís sleep Iím packed and say my goodbyes to everyone and itís on my way home thru Tecate. The border wait was about 30 minutes.

It was another fun and interesting Baja trip. Along the way we met many friendly people including ranchers, camp ground folks, hotel and restaurant workers, repair shops, auto parts stores and the ever present PEMEX attendants.

Now planning the next Baja trip begins. I miss it already.

AAA maps of the trip.









[Edited on 5-5-2014 by TW]

[Edited on 10-15-2014 by TW]

[Edited on 10-15-2014 by TW]
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David K
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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 11:28 AM


Wonderful trip report Tom! I am just dying to get back down there... Thank you for sharing with us!



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 12:16 PM


nice trip report.
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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 12:50 PM


Very nice. You really get around.
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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 12:53 PM


I've been to most of those places on various trips...your trip reports keep reminding me I need to get back out there and explore some more. Thanks for sharing.



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 01:26 PM


As great a trip report as I have even seen on this forum!


Thanks for sharing!




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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 03:43 PM


Thanks for turning me onto a few places I need to visit.



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 04:35 PM


Love some of your pictures. Great report, THANKS !



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 04:36 PM


The palms at Las Palmitas oasis sure tell a story about the wind direction!

Emerson had also heard that the Las Pamitas road grade was washed out, so he drove to the Camino Real trail-head from the Hwy. 5 arroyo crossing (where the new bridge is going in). I drove in on the Las Pamitas road and drove out in the arroyo... yes, deep sand... and that was back in 2002 or 3 when I hiked the ECR towards the mission.

Here is where Las Palmitas, the Camino Real, and Gonzaga Bay are:







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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 04:48 PM


Radical trip report!! Going where not many others go! Thanks for the great write up and pics, sounds like a great crew!
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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 05:04 PM


TW, did Coco get a battery for the quad? Ehall just asked in this thread: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=72960



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 05:25 PM


Thanks for pix guys. Appeared to be a great trip!
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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 09:35 PM


Great report, TW! Yours are among my favorites with all your pics. Well done, once again!



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 10:56 PM


Thanks ... enjoyed the ride :):)



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[*] posted on 5-2-2014 at 11:16 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by TW






What a cutie. How old is a colt like that?
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 05:47 AM


Thanks TW!



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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 05:59 AM


Great report Terry, really outstanding. Maybe I missed it, but what was the reason for the breaks not working off road?
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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 07:56 AM


Wonderful adventure. Thank you for sharing the great photos and report with us.



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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 08:10 AM


What an adventure! I like that Ballena road. Wish I would've took more pictures when I traversed it. Thanks TW.



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[*] posted on 5-3-2014 at 08:28 AM


T minus 33 days......



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