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John Harper
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 06:22 AM
Mike's Sky Rancho


Left for Mexico early on Palm Sunday. Stopped to get my FMM, I was the only person at the border at 6:15 AM. When I picked up my FMM and left, there were two cars in front of me, and two Mexican cops at the secondary. They each grabbed one of those cars for inspection and I just sailed through with a smile and a wave. Nice to be third in line at that time.

We left from my friend Cathy's place at K55, Campo Lopez. Just below the Halfway House on Hwy 1



After going in circles in Ensenada for about an hour, we finally found Hwy 3 east toward San Felipe. A couple hours later we arrived at the turnoff to Mike's Sky Rancho. I stopped to drop the air pressure in my tires (to 25 psi) for the 20 mile dirt road into Mike's. Pretty easy and lowering tire pressure really made the ride smoother, for sure.



Found some interesting plants, not sure their botanical name, Beercanus Yuccai, I think. This is the entrance to a small rancho (San Javier) on the way to Mike's. Looks like a fun place to me. I wish those beer plants grew in my yard.



An abandoned rancho further along the road, built of stone.



Not sure what they used to grow, but Cathy called it "cattle corn" but it looks like mule ears or something like that to me. Maybe someone can identify?



Arriving at Mike's Sky Rancho, after 18 miles on my odometer. No one here but us at 1 PM Monday.



This place is a very famous stopover for offroaders, racers, and adventure riders. Soon after a group of Razors, some moto tour group with KTMs, a couple guys on Huskies, and some Jeeps showed up. It went from two guests to about 40 within hours.





This place can handle 70 guests. It's $70 a night for a room, dinner and breakfast. I was going to camp out, but it would have saved me $10, so I got a room of my own. They let us drink the beer we brought, and even offered to let us use the refrigerator. How cool is that? I love Mexico! Here's the pool/patio area. Pool not used until summer so it's left low.



Okay, so here's the part you all waited for. It's a long hike to get the the "cascada" probably 3 miles. I left at about 6:30 and got back at noon. I tried nymphs and had no luck, was about accept the skunk. Then, I tied on a parachute black ant and got some interest. Got a small fish to at least give me some hope.







I backtracked and tried to get above the falls, but as you can see, it was pretty brutal. I was by myself, no one can help me, and I'm no fool. I'll save it for the next trip.



Found this bigger model on the way back down, which gave me at least two Nelson's trout, good enough for me.


(Oncorhynchus mykiss nelsoni)

I also packed out a huge bag of trash, very disappointing to see such blight on such a beautiful little creek and location. I did my part to help.

Thanks to all for your generous advice! I consider the trip a complete success!!!

John




[Edited on 4-13-2017 by John Harper]

[Edited on 4-14-2017 by BajaNomad]

[Edited on 5-16-2017 by John Harper]
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 06:42 AM


Thanks for posting, trout are wily creatures glad you were able to catch a couple.

Halfway house? As in Richard Halliburton's place?
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 06:44 AM


Oops just saw you said Halfway house in Baja, sorry
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 08:02 AM


Does anyone know the approximate altitude of Mikes?



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John Harper
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 08:17 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Howard  
Does anyone know the approximate altitude of Mikes?


4000 feet. Like Pine Valley in San Diego County. Which used to have a wonderful population of wild fish. But it completely dried up for the last three years, so no more trout.

John
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 08:26 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Howard  
Does anyone know the approximate altitude of Mikes?


Elevation from my GPS, with distance and time from Hwy. 1 via Observatory road, in 2005: Mike's Sky Rancho: 46.6 mi., 2:41 hrs., 3,992' elev.
Trip web page: http://vivabaja.com/905/

John:
Thank you so much for sharing! This is very interesting, having Nelson's 1905 trip book, and about know how, in the 1930s, Mr. C.E. 'Ed' Utt transplanted the trout from the San Antonio (aka Santo Domingo) River to the other year-round streams in the San Pedro Martir.

In John Hilton's book, 'Hardly Any Fences, Baja California in 1933-1959' are many pages about Mr. Utt.

Thank you for sharing this with us Baja history nuts!




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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 09:22 AM


A couple of years ago I was lucky to head up to MSR early one morning during a cold snap and there was a light dusting of snow. Beautiful, but it didn't last. Great country up there
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 09:40 AM


Thanks for the pictures and trip report. I've never been to the water falls but always wanted to.

John you say you hiked to the falls and it was about 3 miles. Are you saying you could not drive the dirt road to get near the falls?

[Edited on 4-13-2017 by TMW]
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 10:17 AM


Forgot to mention...your friends house at Campo Lopez looks AMAZING :o
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 10:29 AM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
Thanks for the pictures and trip report. I've never been to the water falls but always wanted to.

John you say you hiked to the falls and it was about 3 miles. Are you saying you could not drive the dirt road to get near the falls?

[Edited on 4-13-2017 by TMW]


Not in my 2WD truck, but there was a spot where it looks like people drive to camp, at least from all the trash I saw. I hiked from Mike's all the way up, and all the way back, it was very hot hiking back.

John

[Edited on 4-13-2017 by John Harper]
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 11:52 AM


Quote: Originally posted by stiladam  
Forgot to mention...your friends house at Campo Lopez looks AMAZING :o


It's actually quite rustic, beauty is only skin deep.

John
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 11:56 AM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
John, did you ask how much for camping at Mike's? What facilities are for campers? I think I am going back real soon to see how it has changed since 2005.


Camping $20. There is an outside bathroom with showers. Unfortunately, they lock the place until about 6:30AM, so you would not be able to use them until they unlock the front gate. I could not get out either to hit the trail

Meals: $35 dinner, $10 breakfast.

Room plus dinner and breakfast: $70, for the $5 more, I just took a room.

Camping amenities are nonexistent, no fire rings, maybe a trash barrel nearby, not too much shade either, a few trees but you'd probably have to carry your gear to a good spot.

John
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 12:25 PM


They have an interesting history...

It began about 1967 and it was designed for fly-in guests ("Sky Rancho") with the first airport a few miles south (El Encino) and offered horseback riding. The first off road race to pass through was the 1972 Mexican 1000, the last 1000 race NORRA ran before being kicked out of Baja (just after the 1973 Baja 500). That year was the first for the La Paz race to start in Mexicali. The racers had an option to cross over the peninsula to Camalu through Mike's on his new north road or to use the Valle Trinidad to San Vicente road. My folks and I stayed there in October 1972 and there were several pre-runners there.

My next trip was in July 1974 for the first SCORE race, as I mentioned above.

The founder (Mike) became a big race enthusiast and raced a Baja Bug in many races. He was killed a few years ago in a traffic accident on Hwy. 3. His son, also named Mike, runs the place now.

In 1978, I was there again for the Baja Internacional ('Baja 500').

In 1985, my first wife and I camped there and they still had the horses for rent, the stables were above the camp area, the same side of the river. I have a photo of her and the horses.

I don't recall any more trips until 2005 when Baja Angel and I passed through, staying long enough for a margarita in the bar.

I picked this up at Mike's on that 1972 trip:











Don't we wish the daily rate with meals was $15 still!!



[Edited on 4-13-2017 by David K]




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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 12:32 PM


Here's another photo of a trout at the waterfall, scroll down: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=58957



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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 01:11 PM


Great report John. Thanks for the Photo's. I need to go there soon. Looks like fun stuff.:bounce:
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[*] posted on 4-13-2017 at 05:46 PM


$35. for dinner . How was it ?

Thanks for posting such a damn fime report .

And especially for packing out the trash.

[Edited on 4-14-2017 by Paco Facullo]
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[*] posted on 4-14-2017 at 05:18 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Paco Facullo  
$35. for dinner . How was it ?

Thanks for posting such a damn fime report .

And especially for packing out the trash.

[Edited on 4-14-2017 by Paco Facullo]


Steak, rice, veggies, tortillas and beans. The steak wasn't bad, but I'm glad I found the fish the first day and only had to pay the price one night.

John
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[*] posted on 4-14-2017 at 01:37 PM


The pics of those wonderful lil' trout remind me of another strain found in the Deep Creek Mtn's of western Utah, about 60 miles south of Wendover, UT / NV, a border town on I-80. A biologist studied them, also small (but very voracious... will strike a bare #14 hook)... he thought them to be common cutthroat trout, but on further scientific study found them to be a thought-to-be extinct species of Snake River Cutthroat. The four small perennial streams that flow from the Deep Creeks quickly disappear into the salt deserts at the base of the mountains, and the lil' guys have been propagating by themselves on that high elevation island since Lake Bonneville flooded out and disappeared over 15 - 30 thousand years ago, the end of the Pleistocene ice age, which remnant is now the Great Salt Lake.

Makes me wonder about these fellers you angled... I wonder how long they've been doing their solitary thing up there. The Baja peninsula was a whole 'nother world during the Pleistocene; Chapala, and several other areas had verdant lakes and abundant wildlife, now all gone. In the San Augustine area a little north of Cataviña (where you can see Picacho Del Diablo) I read you can find ancient turtle shells in the lake bed sediments. Kewl beenz, señor.
I hear those fish taste kinda like a cross between a spotted owl and a California Condor..... :biggrin:



[Edited on 4-14-2017 by bajabuddha]





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John Harper
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[*] posted on 4-14-2017 at 06:34 PM


Please practice proper catch and release techniques if you fish there, it's precious water. It's not perfect, but barbed hooks and dirty fish are far worse.

John
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[*] posted on 4-14-2017 at 08:09 PM


That was a great report and read, thanks.



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