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Author: Subject: Live from the road to Mission Santa María
David K
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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 12:11 PM
Live from the road to Mission Santa María


Nomad Emerson has been sharing his InReach track on Facebook. He is midway between Cataviña (Santa Ynez) and Mission Santa María at noon Saturday, March 17, 2018:
https://share.garmin.com/BajaCruisers

The track point is updated every 10 minutes, so almost live!




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David K
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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 12:50 PM


Update:
Emerson is at the peninsular divide, 10 miles from Santa Ynez. It took him 1.5 hours (~7 mph). Now the really hard part begins, the final 4.5 miles down the mountain to the mission, which includes the Widowmaker and the Bog.
One can see Punta Final on the gulf coast (Gonzaga) from that point.
My photo zoom of Punta Final from there (2010):






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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 12:55 PM


Nice! Keep those reports coming Brother David! Gracias amigo!



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David K
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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 01:07 PM


Mission Santa María is one of my personal 'Best of Baja' picks. I have been there four times and it has some kind of magic draw on me. A combination of being very difficult to get to (or leave); the fact that a mission was there with hundreds of Native Californians (who lived there long before the Jesuits arrived); a palm oasis along a year-round running stream... with water that pours out of the rocks near the top of a mountain as if pumped up in a fountain and runs down to the mission and beyond... all make this a special place!
www.vivabaja.com/msm and www.vivabaja.com/msm2010 were my last two visits, with Baja Nomads.




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

A Baja Missions History book, updated in 2018: http://oldmissions.com

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David K
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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 03:06 PM


Emerson is at the mission at 3 pm.



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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 07:50 PM


David I have been there 3 times on dirt bike love that place. Have any of you visited Ralf and his wife that live off dirt path. After crossing sand wash. He has house built into mountain very cool place to visit.
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David K
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[*] posted on 3-17-2018 at 08:36 PM


I have never met Ralph but know of him.



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[*] posted on 3-18-2018 at 07:23 AM


Have been there 3 times myself, twice by truck, one by quad. I think it is one of the coolest places to see in Baja Norte. Worth the effort getting there to see those structural mission remains. Agree with DK, a "magical" kind of place. Should be on every Baja explorers radar.
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[*] posted on 3-18-2018 at 07:30 AM


Emerson hiked down into the canyon to the oasis pool often photographed and mentioned here on Nomad, called La Escuadra. Here is his message via satellite...


Emerson
Mar 17, 2018 5:32:00 PM

La Escuadra
Speed: 0.00 mph Course: N/A
Elevation: 1,247.60 ft.
Lat: 29.714423 Lon: -114.524981




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[*] posted on 3-18-2018 at 08:51 AM


I have met Ralph and his wife about 4-5 times over the years. I once visited them on Thanksgiving day right before they sat down for dinner. Real nice people.



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David K
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[*] posted on 3-19-2018 at 08:19 AM


Nice to see Emerson made it back to Hwy. 1 yesterday afternoon.



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[*] posted on 3-19-2018 at 01:41 PM


This looks like an excellent trip.

Can we get a map?
I'm trying to figure out my 1st offroad trip when I get down to San Quintin in late april-may.
Something fairly easy. My truck has not been on a real offroad trip yet. I've beed across a few nice lawns but I don't count that.
So he is due real one.
I think this gets me on the warm side and I can pass through the flowery spring desert too.




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[*] posted on 3-19-2018 at 01:43 PM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Mission Santa María is one of my personal 'Best of Baja' picks. I have been there four times and it has some kind of magic draw on me. A combination of being very difficult to get to (or leave); the fact that a mission was there with hundreds of Native Californians (who lived there long before the Jesuits arrived); a palm oasis along a year-round running stream... with water that pours out of the rocks near the top of a mountain as if pumped up in a fountain and runs down to the mission and beyond... all make this a special place!
www.vivabaja.com/msm and www.vivabaja.com/msm2010 were my last two visits, with Baja Nomads.



I didn't read this closely. Plus I have your book. I can do my own research.
Thanks

[Edited on 3-19-2018 by fishbuck]




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David K
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[*] posted on 3-19-2018 at 03:39 PM


Hi Mike, do enjoy the links of my last two visits. The bighorn encounter was the best I ever had.



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[*] posted on 3-25-2018 at 09:41 AM


David is Emerson going to do a trip report with pictures, if so.

What is the road like, primarily the Widow Maker coming back up.
What are the water crossings like.



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[*] posted on 3-25-2018 at 10:06 AM


Quote: Originally posted by TMW  
David is Emerson going to do a trip report with pictures, if so.

What is the road like, primarily the Widow Maker coming back up.
What are the water crossings like.





I have no idea... He did not contact me, I just got the inReach link, automatically. I hope he does post a report!




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[*] posted on 3-29-2018 at 04:47 PM


Thank you David, its been a long time since I posted, work takes most of my time, and Baja the rest.

The trip was challenging, but overall great.

The main agenda was the following:

Friday PM - Mexicali to Catavina.
Saturday AM - Catavina - Sta. Maria Mission
Sunday AM - Sta. Maria Mission - Catavina
Monday AM - Catavina - Mexicali.

Friday PM
Left Mexicali, met Ensenada team members in San Felipe, had a small snack and headed south, after Punta Estrella one of the rigs blew a fan belt and while flopping around ripped a Transmission cooler line; repair took less than an hour, replaced belts with OEM and refilled oil and got back on the road, we missed Gonzaga fuel by 40min; it had just closed up, we kept pushing south and used the new section of the Hwy 3 up to the main construction site, way better than the old route. We struggled on Hwy1 with a electrical gremlin on of the Land Cruisers, it has been an ongoing issue for 6 months now, ignition shuts down sporadically, we can’t locate the source it ran fine for two weeks in a row and failed again after +400Km into the trip, we ended up towing it up the hotel, not safe at all, but we had very limited options given the time and location with blowing cold wind. - Got to the hotel after midnight, tired and sleepy, Hotel staff had keys labeled and ready for the whole team.

Troubleshooting a teamember Cruiser - Really windy and cold.


Saturday
Excellent breakfast at hotel, prepped the units, and re-arranged the stranded Cruiser passengers on other units - Aired down in Santa Inez and notified Oscar on our plans.
First part of the trail was rocky as always, nothing really complicated; we stopped on the peninsular divide to rest a bit and take pictures; we continued into the trail, and some of the rock steps seemed rougher than last time on 2015; reached the widowmaker grade, several passengers fell while taking pictures and video, its still very slippery with loose dirt on top of the loose rocks - evil combination.
The wrecked red jeep cherokee seemed to be further down the arroyo, very probably high current swept it away around ~50-70 feet. While the last member of the group drove down the grade, two dogs appeared running down the grade also, odd until we found Issac, one Catavina guide looking down from the top of the Widowmaker, he told us he had some visitors with him, we asked if he needed anything, he replied no, and we kept into the trail.

Breakfast at Catavina Hotel.-


Team packing to head down to the Mission.-




Santa Inez Trail Start - AirDown.-



Long Trail up ahead.-


My 80 Series.-


Peninsular Devide Rest & Snack.-



Team having a short rest.-


The Swamp was not muddy at all, some water and very heavily overgrown, the rest of the trail was in regular conditions, arrived at the Mission, and had some quick salad while we took pictures, video, flew the drone and contemplated the nice scenery.





Dead Cherokee still there.-


Going down Widowmaker.-


Registered on the logbook.-


After 20 minutes, the dogs appeared again out of nowhere, then we notices Issac approaching by foot; he asked help to one of the members who he knew from before on winching his ride out of a "difficult situation" he didn't provide any more details, so Victor, the one who Issac asked left to aid him, we told Victor to radio us if he needed any help; well, 30 minutes later, help was requested since Victor winch had a issue; then I launched to the rescue, once I arrived I noticed Issac situation was... well... interesting.

Rescuing Issac Truck.-



1970's Chevy 1 Ton Pickup truck, lifted around 6-8 inches; 33" tires dangerously bald and dry tires at 30+ psi; sidetracked going up an incline with loose gravel, Issac said he lost 4 wheel drive and tried to throttle up and then the rear tires spun sideways and then decided to stop right before a rollover.
I pulled up in front of his truck, rolled out my winch, connected everything and... surprise, my winch exhibited very low power/voltage, I thought for a second what could be wrong, the winch is connected to a Optima Bluetop that serves as a Auxiliary/Reserve battery fed by a ACR Dual Battery manager...anyway...I didn't have enough time for the root cause analysis at that moment; I decided to pull him up with the Land Cruiser, a couple up pulls combined with more throttle from the chevy stuttering engine and he was out.
Issac managed to engage 4Hi; Victor and I U turned and returned to the Mission where the rest of the team was awaiting us; after 20 minutes, Issac arrived also with his tourists and dogs; he stayed in the mission for 10 minutes while tourist took photos and we looked into his engine bay amazed by worrying simplicity of his setup; he even mentioned it was a new acquisition, 200bucks if I remember correctly - Issac and his visitors continued into the arroyo since they were climbing into the oasis; we continued behind after 10 minutes.

Aerial picture from the team in the Arroyo bed.-


The arroyo was dry and soft as always where the trail comes down into it; but after the palms located at the right of the arroyo entrance, there was plenty of water, a lot actually.
We parked the car as far as we could go in, hiked for 25 minutes maybe and finally reached the oasis, amazing place, unfortunately, it was packed with hikers who traveled from the east part of the Canyon, near La Palmita/ South from Gonzaga.
Camping there is actually not permitted, for environmental reasons I believe, it was really disappointing arriving to that place and seeing it packed with people/tents, really sad; they just leave no opportunity for anyone to enjoy the place; this kind of "I don’t care" attitude is really killing the few great things we have left around. - I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone that doesn't share my point of view, I just had to share the frustration of wanting to enjoy this place in its natural state, and being left with a overpopulated scenery of 50 sq mt. just to be in front of the oasis, it isnt even practical of comfortable - Just sad.

Oasis Overpopulation.-


Great place, need to come back when empty.-


Increadible Rock formations.-


We hiked down to the main camp, I asked Issac if he was staying for the night, and he replied they had to go back to Catavina.
Running that trail back to Catavina at night isn't on my wish list, and on Issac ride, no sir...!; I just wished them luck and offer them our camp if things went wrong, actually, many of our group expected them back.
The team prepared dinner, some drinks, and slept early; with no sign of Issac comeback.
While troubleshooting my low voltage on the Winch, I found that one of the circuit breaker had tripped, so the bluetop was not receiving charge and the Radio,Fridge and Light bars consumed it slowly, so I just reset the breaker, and voila, winch working like a charm. I suspect someone tripped the breaker manually by accident while we were fiddling and benchmarking the electrical connections between units.

Sunday
Started Bfast around 7am, by 10am we were preparing to head up to Catavina.

Packing for our return to Catavina.-


There’s a nasty hill climb with a steep ledge on the way back to the Mission from the arroyo, really steep, loose dirt and huge holes right before the ledge to finish the climb, I was first, and attempted a smooth approach, no lockers, aaaand no... my rear hitch was hitting a rock and I lost traction on the rear tires; backed up, turn on the rear locker, same effect; third attempt, rear + front locker, same line of approach, success.
Second car struggled a bit (no lockers) so I gave them a quick tug, by the third unit we figured the correct approach line and no one needed tugs anymore, after all creeped up, we found that one unit had a punctured brake line; we cancelled the line and proceeded. While examining the steep climb, it became evident that the ledge is getting worse due to excessive use of the skinny pedal, too much wheelspin is causing the ledge to erode more and more.

You can kind of see the ridge depth, this needs to be approached on a strategic line to avoid spinning tires and making it worse.


While reaching the bottom of the widowmaker grade, we found Issac Chevy truck on the edge of the trail, parked and no one around, we carried on, all units made it safely to the top, many pictures and video were taken by passengers, airtime on some wheels and minor slippage on the rocks is always fun to watch.
A spotter is required for trouble free ascent, if the approach line is taken cared of, its possible to reach the top without problems

Chevy Truck, sad and alone.-


Going up the Widowmaker grade.-








Upfront, we decided to try the alternate way out thru the arroyo bed; very nice trail down to the arroyo bed, arroyo was dry and very soft as expected, we proceeded taking special care on coolant temperature, we reached Santa Inez quicker than expected; checked in Catavina hotel and started saying goodbye to the members coming back to Mexicali that same day.

Arroyo Bed Shortcut going back.-


And guess what...? The same couple of dogs approached us while in the hotel parking lot, followed by no other than Issac! - We immediately asked what happened; he told us his story with a glowing smile... Issac mentioned he continued to have problem with this 4WD, somehow his loose driver seat was pushing the transfer case lever out of gear; and yes, he did admit to throttle his way up ledges, even on the widowmaker, jumping all around, im pretty sure that If he havent have 1 ton axles (Dana60 front + 14 Bolt rear), he would have ended with broken axles with that violent driving techniques.
The main problem according to him was the alternator bracket gave up, and since he left the arroyo camp at night, his battery didn't last long before he realized the alternator bracket broke, and the belt was not on, by hence, battery was not being charged.
Solution? - Walk in the moon-less night from the Widowmaker to Catavina, and if the lack of moon was not enough, they even had some rain during the walk!. Issac confirmed they arrived at 2am
Quite the adventure for the tourist he handled! - Issac told us that he didn't joined us back in camp that night since he had to be at the hotel at 9am the next day to take another tourist to see the Cave Paintings. - Talk about commitment!

For the rest of the team that stayed in Catavina, we relaxed, BBQ's some great meat and deeply rested thru the night.


Monday
Another great breakfast in the hotel, packed up and started are way back, pretty smooth, fueled up at Gonzaga, and stopped for lunch and beers at Percebu, reached Mexicali in the afternoon, 6ish maybe.

Overall
The mission road continues to be in bad conditions, my expectation was worse, but its still bad, high clearance is a must. Excessive wheel spin in ledges and hillclimbs is causing it to erode quicker than normal.
In the Mission site, no mayor change from last time I was there; book is still available for signature, I could not enjoy the oasis due to overpopulation.
Great BajaCruiser team, a total of 10 Series 80 Land Cruisers joined.

Once we get the production done for the video I'll post them up.

Take care everyone
-Emerson


[Edited on 3-30-2018 by Emerson]
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David K
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[*] posted on 3-29-2018 at 05:56 PM


Super!!!
I saw on your GPS TRACK that you used the Coco's Bypass new highway (Mex #5) route.
Was it 'officially' open or did you "accidentally" drive around barriers?:light:

I will read the details and look again at your photos... I just got home from a nice lunch meeting with Baja El Camino Real adventurer and author of The Mission Walker, Edie Littlefield Sundby.




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[*] posted on 3-29-2018 at 07:21 PM


Thank you guys on great story some tuff Toyotas for sure.
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[*] posted on 3-29-2018 at 08:30 PM


Excellent trip report and pictures, thanks for sharing.
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