Mon 4th July
San Quintin to Catavina
So after a fun weekend together, it was time for me and Ed to say farewell to each other before parting ways again. It’d been good to see each other, however we were both keen to head off on our own, but little did we know that we’d be seeing rather a lot of each other on our way down the Baja.
You see there is only one proper road (Highway one) going down the length of the Baja, with other roads leading off it to more remote places. And of course there are also a ridiculous amount of sand and dirt trails to tempt the adventurer in you. For me, it was a case of self preservation and sticking to the paved road. My back hadn’t felt as good as it did in a long time, and I wasn’t in a rush to undo all the hard work that it had taken to get it to be like that. Ed on the other hand was up for more of a challenge, and after receiving a text saying that he’d downloaded the Baja 1000 route, I had a chuckle to myself and thought nothing more of it.
By the time I’d packed up my bike, found a place for the turf that Ed had kindly acquired for me (I wanted to re-turf my bike, of course), and said goodbye to everyone, it was gone 2pm when I finally got on the road. It wasn’t an issue though, as I only had around 200km to get to Catavina, which was the halfway point between San Quintin and my next destination of Guerrero Negro, which by the way is reeeaally hard to say properly if you’re English!! I’ve had many an entertaining conversation where I’ve tried to to say the word properly to a Mexican, and they’ve had to repeatedly correct me, despite me being convinced that I’m saying it exactly the same as they are!
It was the perfect temperature when I set off, but after stopping off for some rather tasty crab burritos at Mama Espinozas in El Rosario (unfortunately they were out of the recommended lobster rolls) it got progressively hotter. This was due to the fact that I was headed inland, leaving the cooling Pacific ocean far behind me. I must admit that I had no idea just how many mountains there are on the Baja peninsular; they went on for miles, as far as the eye could see. Occasionally it would flatten out, but then before you knew it you’d be back in to the endless mountains again.
The road was smooth with very little traffic, and as I continued cacti started to appear, in various shapes and sizes. I really enjoyed my ride through the strangely relaxing and head clearing landscape, admiring the pretty yellow flowers that accompanied the cacti, which were getting bigger and bigger with every mile.
I decided to have a little explore off-road to ride amongst them, and took one of the many trails that runs from the road and disappears off in to the cacti fields. It was hard packed and I only rode it for a short distance, but it was enough to remind me how much I enjoy riding off-road. Despite deciding that I was going to stick to paved road from now on, this little jolly made me think that I might just tackle some off-road after all, maybe even in the Baja, but I’d save it for another day when I had more time. After all, the last thing I needed was a puncture, and looking at the various spikes that protruded from my multi-armed companions, I thought I’d be asking for trouble if I continued any further.
I’d been back on the highway for less than a few minutes, when I spotted a cactus so massive that I couldn’t resist getting a closer look. It was literally just off the highway, down a packed and easy dirt trail, so I decided to risk my tyres and get a closer look.
This giant green beast towered above me at goodness knows how many feet, and made me and my bike feel particularly small. It had the weirdest patterns on it too, and I was surprised to find that it felt like bark from a tree.
I don’t know why but I was expecting it to be squishy, like an aloe vera plant or something. I also wanted to get a picture with it, but being on my own and not having anyone to take my photo, I decided to make use of my new tripod. I didn’t have a remote and hadn’t set it up with my iphone yet, so after many takes of jumping up and down and running backwards and forwards, I was absolutely drenched in sweat. It was worth it though, as I finally managed to get a good photo…
But of course Ed had to trump that didn’t he…
Just as I was getting used to being surrounded by these sizeable beasts, they started to disappear, and were replaced with giant boulders that were piled on top of each other like they’d been tipped out of a giant dumper truck. It was quite a sight as the sun started to set, as the boulders took on a pinky orange hue, and the remaining cacti cast elongated shadows across the road.
I’d planned to camp at a place called Rancho Santa Ines, but after arriving there to find the place completely deserted, I didn’t feel so comfortable about staying there and rode back in to town.
I could have wild camped, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of random trails heading out in to the boulder fields, but I wasn’t so sure about wild camping just yet. I did want to camp though, so I stopped at a cafe I’d seen earlier to see if they had camping. It was closed but there was talking coming from the house behind, so I poked my head in and was greeted by the friendly owner. I asked in my best Spanish if I was able to camp there, and not only did he immediately say yes, but he also said that it was free of charge! This was perfect for me as I’d already spent the remainder of my daily budget on crab burritos, which in my opinion was money well spent. Not only were they really tasty, but there’d been enough left over for my dinner, which I’d happy scoffed while contemplating where to go at the deserted ranch. My friendly saviour explained where to go, and even offered me some fresh water, before I followed his directions to an open area surrounded by boulders and cacti. It was the perfect place for me for my first night of solo camping, and despite the hum of a generator in the distance, feeling safe meant that there was a good chance of getting a decent nights sleep, or at least so I thought…