Baja, the Long Way

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HardWorkingDog, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. acesandeights

    acesandeights Asperger

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    unacceptable
  2. Bg22

    Bg22 Adventurer

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    DFW
    Damn, great RR so far HWD! I'll have to find another to read up on for the next couple of days.
  3. Nice_Rumble

    Nice_Rumble Long timer

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  4. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Yeah, the worst thing is it's hard to get back in the report mode...but I'm determined, so here we go again...

    Thanks! You can come back now :lol3

    Hey N_R, welcome!
  5. WoodsChick

    WoodsChick Long timer

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    Oakland, CA
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WoodsChick
    Eric and I are thoroughly enjoying this report, HWD!


    Hah-ha!! :lol3 No, he reads it every morning (or at least on the mornings after you make a post :D) and then we look at it later on my laptop.

    I totally appreciate your efforts, HWD, and I know how time-consuming a good ride report can be. It's a labor of love, for sure. It's a good thing I do them for myself, first and foremost, or I'd probably never finish one :rofl




    WoodsChick
    (and the dude)
  6. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Day 33, 2/1/13
    Loreto to Bahia Concepcion




    Where was I? Oh yeah, Loreto........


    [​IMG]


    We'd had enough pavement yesterday and were looking forward to a good dirt route today. Based on another
    of BigDog's tracks from his trip in 2007 I had planned for us to head back south on Mex 1 for about a mile where
    we'd catch a dirt road west towards San Javier, and then cut north to San Jose Comondu, San Isidro and then
    back east to catch up with Mex 1 again towards Bahia Conception and Mulege. My maps indicated this would
    be all dirt roads from the time we left Mex 1 until we rejoined it just below the Bahia so we were a little
    disappointed when we turned off 1 and headed up into the mountains west of Loreto on-------asphalt.


    [​IMG]


    Oh well, once we climbed a bit the road became a great stretch of pavement--full of on-camber twisty fun that
    snaked its way up the ridge. Mexican road sign makers have a great sense of humor. We'd been riding s-curves
    for a good 6 or 7 miles when we came upon a road sign warning: "CAMINO SINUOSO"


    [​IMG]


    We had to stop at one point for some photos. The road reminded me a bit of Calif. 190 as it drops down
    into Panamint Valley.


    [​IMG]


    As we looked ahead we could see some indication that the road ahead would require some caution.


    [​IMG]


    There was just a narrow strip of passable pavement through here-----another good rainstorm would probably
    take out the rest of the road.


    [​IMG]


    We finally got our dirt though, when the road to San Jose Comondu tee's off just after we passed Rancho Viejo.


    [​IMG]


    This road is a great piece of fun Baja dirty goodness. Rocky, twisty, rutty and scenic, we had a great time riding
    it to the settlement of San Jose Comondu. There is an interesting old mission there


    [​IMG]


    and the people waved and smiled as we rode through.


    [​IMG]


    After San Jose Comondu I had to make a choice. There are 2 dirt routes to ride, the shorter one heads northeast
    towards El Crucerito--about 25 miles--and the longer one goes northwest towards San Isidro and then east to
    El Crucerito for a total of about 38 miles. BigDog had taken the shorter route back in 2007. What to do?


    Of course that one's too easy, let's take the long way!!!


    There was a little bit of confusion as we climbed above San Jose Comondu, but eventually I had us on the right
    road, past a small cemetery, and away we went. I realized at some point that, strangely, this road was on my
    OpenStreetMap gps map--probably the only dirt route we'd been on that was actually on the gps so I felt comfortable
    this was going to be an easy dirt road.


    Couldn't have been more wrong.


    The road quickly turned rockier, ruttier, more washed out than anything we'd ridden yet and even worse, the road--
    I can't really call it a road now, more a track--started getting fainter and fainter. Clearly no vehicle had been over
    this route in quite awhile. No tire tracks, long stretches where the plants were growing undisturbed over what
    seemed like the path. If this hadn't been on my gps map I would have definitely turned around and gone back to
    the short route. But, we carried on.


    We both had a couple get offs, and there was one long steep uphill stretch composed of 6 inch rocks in a matrix
    of loose sand. In other words, almost no traction. We both had to slip our clutches to keep going. Thankfully the
    new clutch in the DR held, but it was sweating bullets time. Hot, sweaty dusty riding, through washouts, rock steps
    and ledges, over bushes and groundcover, through areas that made us fully aware of how vulnerable we were if
    something went pear-shaped.


    [​IMG]


    I was really grateful to be riding with my son.


    We helped each other through the tough spots, laughed at each other and just kept going. Made it out to the
    main graded dirt road just east of San Isidro hungry, thirsty and hot, stopped in the little bit of shade and ate lunch,
    not talking too much, just relieved to be out of there unbroken. I was beat and we still had 30 miles of dirt, and
    another 30 of pavement to get to the Bahia.


    [​IMG]


    That was a long day in the saddle. Don't think we say anyone else from the time we left San Jose Comondu until we
    got to El Crucerito, where we passed a Toyota 4 wheel drive bouncing slowly over the rocks. Made me feel like
    a fast guy...


    I was tired, did I mention that? At one point we stopped near a small settlement east of El Crucerito--don't even
    remember why, now, maybe to share a clif bar?--anyway it was a flat level bit of road and as I stopped and went
    to put my right foot down I realized I'd stopped near the only depession within 5 yards, my foot had farther to go
    than I'd expected....bike starts to lean right......foot stumbles.......trying to hold it up.........it's going over!


    Gahhh! That was about the fifth 0 mph tipover for me on the trip and I'd HAD IT!! I jumped over the downed bike,
    literally hopping mad. Time slowed down in one of those freeze frame moments-----I spied a rock about 10 inches
    across, picked it up, looked around carefully to make sure I wasn't going to smash my own foot or bike, and SLAMMED
    it down onto another rock laying nearby. It splintered into about 8 small pieces in a soothing and satisfying
    crescendo and I looked back at my son with a mixture of anger and frustration that faded into pure relief.


    He just about fell off HIS bike laughing at me. I started laughing as well and we picked my bike up, again, and
    carried on. I've thought about this "road" quite a bit since then and I'm guessing that since the road to San Isidro from
    the west is now paved no one bothers with this old piece of dirt track. Not really sure, but it's clear the dirt road we
    took has unofficially been abandoned. It's doable--heck, we made it and others have as well--but be warned, it's
    pretty rough and is only going to get worse over time, in my opinion.


    We made it back to Mex 1 and droned on towards Bahia Concepcion on some now-welcome smooth pavement.


    The goal was to spend the night at the Playa Posada Hostel. I'd read about it here on advrider, a ride report had
    mentioned how enjoyable the hostel had been and best of all the owner ran a bakery producing tasty pan dulce
    on site...sounded perfect to us.


    We found the place and it wasn't quite what we'd expected. The Playa was packed with semi-permanent RV's
    placed close to each like little townhouses and no one was in the office. Finally a resident wandered over
    seeing our puzzlement and mentioned the owner was away for a couple weeks and the hostel was closed.

    :ddog


    We'd seen a number of small palapa/camping areas on the way so turned around and headed back towards
    an area called El Coyote. We turned off Mex 1 on a small unmarked dirt road and found an empty palapa on
    a nice little cove, inhabited by the usual cast of Canadians in fifth wheels. We were camped maybe 25 feet
    from the bay on soft sand


    [​IMG]


    Some of the Canadian residents had warned us of thefts that had occurred recently in the area--seems the
    closer to cities and Mex 1 the less secure Baja becomes--so we kept our bikes in the palapa and pitched
    our tents in front.


    [​IMG]


    As the sun set Bryn rode back to a small Super-Mini nearby, picked up some groceries from the abuelita who
    ran the place--"muy cuidado" as she handed him the fresh eggs


    [​IMG]


    and we cooked up our version of chicken and dumplings: A can of Campbell's chicken noodle
    soup with extra pasta, some red pepper flakes and 2 beaten eggs added in slowly while the soup and pasta is
    gently boiling. Fresh tortillas with avocado & salsa, a couple of Tecates, some oranges and Chokis chocolate chip cookies for dessert.


    Ah, the life of kings.


    Exhausted kings.







  7. WoodsChick

    WoodsChick Long timer

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    Music to my ears, Tim! You need to meet up with us somewhere in the west and ride one of our bikes. It's not as boring/sissy as it sounds on paper :lol3
    Honest!


    Dang, Charles...I'd be pretty honored, too! I mean, I've been posting some little ol' ride reports here, too, for years and he's never posted to one of mine
    :ddog


    ChoppedLiverChick
  8. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Cool! Glad you're still hangin' with this.

    It definitely reaches a point where it feels more like a burden...just gotta get through it...

    :lift
  9. WoodsChick

    WoodsChick Long timer

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    Oakland, CA
    Yeah, I know. It kind of feels like a monkey on your back til you're done. So worth it, though. I still haven't gotten to our anniversary ride report...and it was a good one! Still got the birthday ride to get to, as well. That's going to be a long one...



    WoodsChick
  10. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
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    536
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    I'm still hanging on and enjoying every bit of the way! I've been to many of the places you are reporting on and loving the memories. Keep up the good work. :clap
  11. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
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    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Nice! As the trip nears its completion it's hard to avoid feeling rushed...the pull of home is starting to call, whether 6 days or 6 weeks. But there's still some discoveries ahead. :evil
  12. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
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    Day 34, 2/2/13
    Bahia Concepcion to Rancho Piedra Blanca




    That evening we sat on the sand as the sun went down and were treated to an LED light show...the snowbirds along our
    stretch of the Bahia enjoyed creating light sculptures with twinkle lights strung along the fronts of their camps.


    [​IMG]


    We fell asleep to the gentle sound of the Sea of Cortez lapping near our feet.




    That morning I woke with the dawn, my tent glowing orange. Almost every day in Baja begins with a
    great sunrise, but I think this was the queen of all sunrises, at least for our trip.


    [​IMG]


    Just spectacular.


    [​IMG]


    Today's goal was to get some miles in--we wanted to get back to our friends at Surf Camp and spend
    a few more days with them before our trip ended--and we still had a long way to go. The destination I'd
    planned was Rancho Piedra Blanca, another place I'd read about here and at bajabound.


    We weren't expecting to really find anything there; at this point of our journey we'd found that the best
    places were found, not planned and so as we rolled out of Bahia Concepcion we knew that we had
    a few options if Piedra Blanca didn't pan out.


    We followed Mex 1 north through Mulege--that name is just plain fun to say: Moo La HEY--and along
    the coast to Santa Rosalia where it turns west towards San Ignacio. The road is very enjoyable as it
    sweeps past the volcanoes and up and over the backbone of the peninsula.


    [​IMG]


    We pulled into San Ignacio, filled up at the Pemex and once again stocked up at the tienda there.
    It was Saturday afternoon and the market was the place to be, full of people, busy in a good way.


    We slogged on northwest along 1, painfully aware of the saddle as the road became straighter,
    bulling its way through the central plain and eventually we found ourselves in Vizcaino where we
    filled up our tanks again. We'd made good uneventful progress, now we could indulge ourselves.


    Just beyond Vizcaino a dirt road angles off of Mex 1 towards Punta San Francisquito and
    Bahia de Los Angeles, we were ready to get off the asphalt and ride some good ol' dirt.


    [​IMG]


    A fun ride, not too difficult to navigate although there were several intersections and mazes. We'd
    become used to finding branching roads that eventually all come back together, usually the branch
    has been created to get around some obstacle or another. A good mix of sand, rocks, washboard and
    dust. We were having a great time.


    [​IMG]



    When planning this trip I'd spent a fair amount of time trying to locate the Rancho. It wasn't easy, as the
    people who I found who'd been there hadn't marked its location carefully, so I'd placed a waypoint as
    a guess based on things like "yeah, it's about where that creek on the map crosses the road, right where
    it reads '21.2'..." We were about a 1/2 mile from my waypoint when we see a weatherbeaten sign for
    Rancho Piedra Blanca, round a small spur and there it is.



    [​IMG]



    We ride up amongst people on horseback, small girls hiding behind fenceposts, dogs running and
    barking------not sure if this is the right place. Is this Rancho Piedra Blanca? Can we camp here?

    Si, Si!!


    [​IMG]


    It is one of the best memories of the trip. And one of the reasons I wish I could have spoken better
    Spanish. As near as I can tell it is a family-run ranch, with cattle, horses, herding dogs, the works.
    They've built a few casitas on the upper edge of their homestead along with a very nice bathhouse
    and separate toilet building. There's a big palapa with chairs and a table, a barbecue, places to camp
    and a HUGE dining room.

    The owners are very friendly, curious and it would have been so much more enjoyable to be able
    to converse with them, but all we could do is stumble along in our poor Spanish, use some sign language,
    and lots of laughter.


    [​IMG]


    They prepared us a delicious meal of carne asada burritos, and when we'd plowed through one plate
    fixed another until we were stuffed.


    [​IMG]


    There were some good-looking rock formations nearby so my son took his bouldering shoes and went
    off in search of some climbing


    [​IMG]


    while I sat in the lawn chair


    [​IMG]


    and watched a young man practice his roping skills on a calf, helped by a dog or two.


    [​IMG]


    One of the men had made sure to light the water heater as soon as we arrived and we took advantage,
    I think we turned it into a sauna, but we simply couldn't help it.


    [​IMG]


    The perfect Baja day.





  13. Tim H

    Tim H n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3
    Yep, that's me:D.
    I followed Deeney over here, then Tami passed through briefly on her way to CafeHusky, but it's kind of like driving past a car wreck: you just have to look:huh. I've bitten off many, many replies over the years, but folks around here eat their young if they dare speak against the adv line, so I've kept it to myself (that is a personal record, by the way).
    Loving the report, envying the trip. Looking forward to the rest, too.
  14. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Well, cool! Say hi to the rest of the clan. That reminds me, I need to fire up my newsreader and see if it'll still jiggle bits--kinda rusty :lol3

    I think WoodsChick is still kinda miffed though.

    :turkish
  15. Tim H

    Tim H n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3
    "Hi's" will be delivered. Not much to be seen at rmd even if your newsreader blows out the cobwebs and works perfectly. They seem to have really managed to kill rmd off this time:cry.
    I think Tami will get over it. I can always distract her by bringing up her telescope, or talking about riding out of the Sawtooths (Sawteeth?) with her on her hose-clamped-together Pampera, or following her out of Gifford Pinchot with her tweaked knee, or helping her out when she beat the hell out of herself at Butterfly Lake up by Stanley, or, well you get the picture. Plus, I've even replied to her reports on Cafe Husky without regard to my personal safety in posting to a Husky site while riding a GasGas. Hell, I even attended a CafeHusky ride at China Hat without a single Husky. Hopefully we'll be all right.
    Tami? Still love you , lady. You know that.

    Tim H
  16. Butcho

    Butcho Been here awhile

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    Jan 11, 2008
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    329
    Location:
    Wisconsin SE
    Great job on the report. Got our sleeping bag liners and tried them out on the living room floor, {still winter here} They are super cool. Thanks Again! :lurk
  17. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Nice! I'm sure it seems like they're too thin to do much at all, but believe in the thermolite! It takes some time to figure
    out how to pull it up around your head while inside the bag, but once you get the inch-worm-boogie down you're golden.:wink:




    Forgive me, loyal readers (sheesh that sounds lame of me :huh)--------going to be
    another delay, probably won't have another installment for a week or so while we take family
    to tour Death Valley.



    There's a week left, 1200 miles or so to get home. It's been an amazing trip so far..........




  18. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    Baja is good
    HWD, I can relate to that road northeast from San Jose de Comondu. I took it back around 1990 in a Baja bug. Back then the road was well defined, but the locals had stopped using it a few years back judging from it's condition.

    The road was on the AAA map back then.....and shouldn't have been. They don't upgrade those maps very often. Like never! :lol3

    I was in my Baja Bug with a companion. If I'd known what I was getting into, I'd have never gone that way. As you did, I felt very vulnerable out there.

    Congrats on the successful transition of that route. You guys rock.
  19. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
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    18,336
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    Burbank CA


    charles, hurry up before the natives get restless.

    well done rr and enjoyed each post.

    have fun in dv. you're a week ahead of us, we'll be there last weekend of march. you will miss the spectacle of watching 200 noobs doing what they do best....:D

    hey ratman....being one of the founding fathers of this event, come and join us.
  20. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,104
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Thanks, dude!

    It's not a coincidence that we'll be there the week before :evil


    :hide