We had made it through the dry lakebeds and back to the road pretty quickly and didnít really get slowed down at all. We got back early, took off our helmets and just then the owner of the camp came over. He asked how our ride was and then said if we wanted there was a little old mission maybe veinticinco kilometers abajo, muy bonito, mas rocas, mas rocas, hasta el arroyo, mas rocs!
My Spanish isnít that good and Iíve been slacking on my studies but were thinking a mission? About 12 miles away? Lots of rocks? Itís only 3:00? HmmmmmÖÖ We still had water and food left over, maybe 40 miles worth in the tanks, and not enough riding in yetÖ.easy decision.
So we headed out, but that didnít look right so we looped back, that didnít look right either, so we checked over there. Finally we went back to the camp and talked to an American lady that was loading up her car, I had a feeling she knew about it. I asked her if it was just up the arroyo?
She said you havenít been able to get there for many years now since the rockslide. ďIt is impossible nowĒ and said we had to get there from the other side. (This is very interesting now that I sit here and think about it, but more on that in a bit.)
Needless to say, it was pretty obvious what way we needed to go.
Up the arroyo we headedÖ
Big, wide and fast it was.
There were a decent amount of tracks in it but still plenty of un-cut on the sides if you looked for it. I saw a few tracks cutting off to the left but I kind of wanted to keep riding the sand so we went a little further.
It cliffed out just up a little bit so we turned around and took the turnoff.
We saw two fresh motorcycle tracks and followed them through several corners on some good 2-track.
Climbed up a little rise, through a saddle and saw our last view of the Cortez.
Then dropped into the rocks, nothing but bowling ball to softball sized to pick your way over. We were a little tired and knew that it was the time when itís easy to get hurt, but decided to go a bit further and came down into a gorgeous canyon.
Then I got a glimpse of the oasis; a big group of palm trees sprouting out of the rocky desolation. Knowing that they built the missions near constant water sources, we had to be close.
We came to the top of a particularly nasty, rocky hill. I stopped, looked over to BABs, he nodded and I went for it.
Then we came to this:
The track went straight through. This type of thing is not something to take lightly out here, the last thing we wanted to do was get stuck an hour of so before dark. So we parked the bikes and set off on foot to investigate.
It is pretty amazing finding such a lush oasis in the middle of the desert; it almost felt like we were all the sudden exploring in the deep jungle for a lost temple. We walked almost to the end of the main clump of trees and didnít see anything on the other side. The track went through the water for a hundred yards or more and neither of us really wanted to wade in.
The two fresh motorcycle tracks led right into the water however. I looked at it for a little bit but it just wasnít worth trying. It was a good thing too as we would later find.
We walked back to the bikes and headed for camp.
The rocky hill out of the valley was a good one. I flopped it like a fish a couple times and dabbed my feet a couple times, but at least I didnít kill the bike (BABs;). You had to be careful and watch the traction because one spot didnít have it and another did. Wheeling over backwards is only good if you are catching it on camera, and neither of us had ours out...well, let me take that back, BABs had his helmet cam now that I think about it (not to try and throw anybody under the bus or anything). We made it up without a problem and kept moving.
After pulling into camp, happy with a good 125-mile day, we started to change out of our riding gear.
Just then the friendly local came over again (he had stopped by that morning as we were headed out) to talk for a while. The first thing he asked is how far we got. We told him about the water and the two tracks we were following and how we hiked around a bit but decided to turn around. He just started laughing. Said that we were only about a mile and a half from the old mission and it was a good thing that we didnít try out the water. He said that the Godfather himself was there the day before and swamped out his bike trying to make it through. Apparently it is doable but extra deep at that time.
He also asked about the hill. Apparently when he takes people down there they tie ropes on the front of the bikes to make sure no one wheelies over backwards. According to him, he has rescued more than one person from the road back there; itís deffinatley a nasty one, Iíd have to agree.
He said there are rumors of a way out to the Cortez through there but he didnít believe it. According to him the only way would to be to lower your bike down by ropes, mentioning he has hiked it several times. (Looking back, it is interesting that the lady we talked to earlier said you had to come in from the other way)
We also learned about a little swimming hole with magical bright green water just below, the owner of Santa Inez (who also owns the pink hotel, you can tell by the bathrooms) even has a picture of it on his business cards. Either way, more investigation is needed as far as Iím concerned.
But all we can do now is dream about the deep sand, fast arroyos, endless rocks, dry lakebeds, and barren wastelands.
It was sad to stare at our last Baja sunset.
We loaded up the bikes that night and got as much packed for the trip north as we could. Iím not quite sure what time we actually hit the road the next morning, all I know is that we were in the outskirts of San Quintin by the time the sun actually came up. I have to say it was pretty sweet driving in the wee hours of the morning like that. The traffic was next to nothing that early but I still managed to drop the trailer tire off the side of the road moving over for a truck with its mirrors hanging over into my lane. Luckily it didnít cause any damage and we were eating our last fist tacos in Ensenada around 10:30. After a bit of shopping and making sure to top off the truck with gas before heading into CA we were sadly saying goodbye. We decided to go through TJ this time and sat in line for about two hours after having to loop back around because we accidentally got in the wrong lane that led to the police officer checking for medical cards to allow you to skip up in line. Down Town TJ really didnít seem too badÖor we just got luckyÖwho knows?
We crossed over with no problems even though I actually forgot my passport. All I did was have my better half scan and email a copy of it to me. I printed it out and showed it to the guard with my driverís license and after a thourough check of the truck we were allowed back in. We traded off driving and sleeping in the back seat, stopped at In-N-Out for the first time (honestly I donít know what all the hype is about), pulled off the highway and crused The Vegas Strip (too bad BABs was a month shy), and pulled into Denver at about 8:30 the next morning. Not a bad 27-28 straight through.
And thatís that, the end of another well served set of tires.
The Santa Maria mission was the last mission built by the Jesuits before they were expelled from Mexico for political intrigues. The area, which includes freshwater springs in a valley named "Cabujacaamang" by the Indians, was first seen by Father Fernando Consag in 1746, when he discovered Bahia San Luis Gonzaga on the Sea of Cortez. The mission itself was built in 1767 by Father Arnes and Diez as the third in a string of remote missions. It was designed to replace Mision Calamajue which was built in the previous year, but was found to have water that was too highly mineralized to sustain crops.
Although built in a wide canyon surrounded by volcanic rock and granite, Mision Santa Maria was the only mission built by the Jesuits mainly of adobe bricks rather than stone. After the Jesuits reluctantly departed from Baja Sur, the Franciscans occupied the site for a few months in 1768, but abandoned it as a principle mission when they began construction of the new Mission San Fernando de Velicata, forty miles to the northwest, in 1769. At that time, the Santa Maria mission became an outpost of Mission San Francisco Borja until 1818 when it was permanently abandoned.
Beginning in 1961, attempts were made to bulldoze a trail from Rancho Santa Ines, past the Santa Maria mission to Bahia Gonzaga on the Sea of Cortez. Constructed with great amounts of effort, the road reached a point about a half mile east of the mission on the Camino Real, but was abandoned because of impassable terrain. Today that trail has eroded and is obliterated in many areas, but is still the most common route for Santa Maria's infrequent visitors.
-Norm Christie, http://www.bajalife.com/v3pg40.htm
Now you canít say I never gave you anything.
WellÖÖthatís all Iíve got, for these coordinates atleast.