We left the Muñoz’ in search of the open road. At this point it’s a dirt track that runs along the coast, pressing ever deeper into the East Cape. I was feeling very confident after having passedLos Cabos and the tip of Baja. We joked about ending the trip right there instead of the tip of South America, but the allure of Mainland Mexico is powerful and magnetic. It draws you in. I considered this my victory lap as I had finally got my air pressure right and the van was running smooth as a cucumber. Ingrid was feeling ill, which was a rarity, we stopped at 9 palms so she could cool off in the ocean. No waves to speak of, but man what a set up. Poor Ingrid, she laid down in the back and we pushed on. Later on I had to pull over to let her relieve herself. It was real, but it never got worse than that. She ended up sleeping in the back for the whole ride to Cabo Pulmo and I was left up front with my own thoughts. It was a victorious ride, slow and easy, beautiful terrain, no one around. Ever so often a crew of ATVs would cruise by in the opposite direction, so it was a process of rolling the windows up and down. This was the extent of my troubles on this stretch. Stunning scenery, from beautiful mountain ranges to glorious sand dunes, desert landscape all the way. However, the Sea of Cortez takes the prize with it’s endless palate of majestic blues and greens, captivating you at first glance.
Suddenly you arrive at Cabo Pulmo, there’s a giant headland that marks it from a distance. I had seen it and planned on stopping there for lunch, knowing that the headland would provide some protection from the wind, which can be vicious around these parts. But as we arrived we saw all sorts of campers and RV’s parked, and a sign welcoming you into the preserve. So I pulled into what I considered the best spot for us and got down to it. You shut the motor off and immediately the peace and quiet floods in like a gently flowing river. Nothing but the sounds of sea birds and tiny waves lapping on the shore which is a stones throw away. Nice and flat, we ended up staying in this very spot until we left. It’s free camping, so there’s no check in or hassle with money, just park and chill. There are some spots further past the headland if you want to pay, but we prefer to ‘rough it’, as we have a long voyage ahead of us and try to save everywhere we can. The spots past the headland aren’t as protected from the wind though. Luckily, the wind never came on to strong so it was paradise from the minute we got there till the minute we left. It’s worth mentioning that the potential for an epic peeling left-hander inside the protected point was most apparent. If only there was a swell, it didn’t matter. We had surfed more than our fair share and were looking forward to getting into some snorkeling. We brought our gear with us from New York, and I had a feeling that if we walked up the beach and started swimming for the point, we would probably see some fish and some corals.
We got on it the next morning, and sure enough it was stunning. We made it pretty close to the point, there were some big rocks that you could stand on to take a break, seeing that the land was nearly inaccessible due to massive rocks, and small long period groundswell. No matter, what’s to see is in the water anyway. Beautiful and exotic looking fish of all shapes and sizes, plumes of coral, even large schools of fish that respond to your every move. So much fun.
Later that day, our friends Bruce and Jodi from Instagram @Burlydirtyhippie showed up and we were stoked to see them. I had a notion to climb up the headland to catch the view and see whats on the other side. The girls weren’t feeling up to it, so me and Bruce went for a gander. It was further than it looks, but completely worth the effort. The timing was perfect with the evening light. It was shock and awe at the top, and the whole way down. I did manage to cut my toe as I was hiking with my sandals in my hand, (wtf?) but fortunately Bruce had a doggie bag and a rubber band in his pocket, and it wasn’t nearly the issue that it could have been. Thanks Bruce, couldn’t have done it without you! We would have liked to continue down the other side having seen a sign pointing to a sea lion colony, if it weren’t for the foot.
The next day we all went snorkeling, it was a total blast. Ingrid and I tried to swim all the way to the point knowing that just around the corner there was a sea lion colony, but after we got past the spot we made it to the day before, there was a big drop off and it was hard not to think about big fish and territorial sea lions. We turned back relieved to give up on that mission, perfectly satisfied with what we’d already seen. We swam back and had dinner with @Burlydirtyhippie, Bruce taught me a new song, which was an old country tune, and we went to bed as content as can be. The next day after coffee, we said goodbye to Bruce and Jodi, and moved on.
As your heading to La Paz from Cabo Pulmo you have the option to stop at the Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra de la Laguna. If you find yourself in this position, do not pass it by. This is surely one of the most beautiful locations in all of Baja. We drove deep into the mountains to find a hot spring, which we did. The track got pretty gnarly near the end and it was approaching dark at this point, but there are some nice locals around and they will tell you the way. Also like I said before, the gnarlier the road, the more beautiful the destination. The hot spring was epic, as good as you can ask for and more. Find your perfect temperature, and settle in. The stars were amazing, and being that it was nestled in a small canyon, with a river running right next to it, it reminded me a bit of Stagecoach springs in New Mexico, where our good friend Peter Helenius took us.
In the morning, we went for a dip and it was even prettier than I imagined it, as we had arrived in the dark and the ranchero had to lead us there with his gas lantern. Amiable fellow, let Ingrid take his picture as we left. We also walked up the river where there was a jumping rock into a deep natural swimming pool. This is pretty standard in Mexico, where paradise lives and breaths, and laughs, and takes siestas, and kicks back and relaxes, making you feel at home. There all sorts of springs, waterfalls and swimming holes in this area.
On this same day, we headed for the Zorra Canyon where there is a beautiful waterfall with a high jump into a deep pool. We go there late, but they let us in anyway and while we were there, we met our new friend Jason Roth. He had ridden from Seattle on his motorcycle and the proprietor had talked him into renting the only cabana at the top of the trail. We got to talking and we found we had a lot in common. He was heading for Nicaragua but was hesitant to make the trip to mainland. As soon as I mentioned I had a guitar he was like ‘Oh you should stay with me in the cabana! There’s plenty of room, it’s totally cool’. we were like ‘sure why not!’ Ever so gracious of him, and the cabana is super sweet. If you ever get to this place, rent this cabana and stay for a couple of days. You wont regret it. Ingrid loves to cook in a real kitchen and she got right to it. Jason and I started jamming, as I have two guitars, and it became immediately apparent that he was more than proficient. We had a blast, I think it was relieving and satisfying for both of us. I can’t remember how many songs we played, we got some beers from the restaurant down the road, everyone has left now and we are the only people in the canyon. You can just barely hear the waterfall in the distance below.
The next morning we peaced out, and set our sights for La Paz. You have to cross the mountains to get there. It’s a windy road, that goes up and down. It’s a wild crazy ride, but somebody’s got to do it, and the views are insane the whole way. Of course we make this trip with the perfect afternoon-light like we always do, and roll into La Paz near dark. This isn’t a problem because we’d been there before, La Paz is pretty chill, and were going straight to a friends house. This works out great. Our friend Jan Federico lets us in and then runs to a meeting. Ingrid prepares dinner while he’s away and when he gets back, we all dine together as new friends, but like old friends. We met Jan in Todos Santos he’s a righteous cat and a local to the area.
The following day we met our crew from Todos, and went to a beach past the ferry terminal called Tecolote. Reason being, this is the closest launching point to La Isla Espiritu Santo. We never made it out there, but we did get closer to it as we passed by on the ferry to mainland. We ended up staying at the beach in Tecolote because it was cheaper and easier, and it’s a beautiful beach with perfectly fine snorkeling just around the giant cliff. Another world awaits you there, and it’s sheer joy swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. After an epic beach day, we said good bye to our friends and spent one more night at Jan’s before taking the ferry the next day.
The next day was a good day. All was well as we had already been here before, and had an idea of how things would go. Also, our friends Devon and Kassandra had previously taken this same ferry and told us the scoop. The TMC trucker ferry is the one you can sleep in your own vehicle. Or on the deck, or on the floor in the lounge room, or on an empty flat-bed truck, it’s all good. Just grab your blanket and pick a spot. They put us on the upper-deck, in the perfect place, covered with the roof but in open air just the same. This proved to be most convenient as there was an incredible amount of moisture that built up on the ride across the gulf. Jason ended up sleeping on his camping mat on the flat-bed right next to us, his motorcycle chain up and fixed in place just in front. The boat is really cool, the truckers are really nice and the experience was surprisingly pleasant. They serve dinner and breakfast the next morning, before docking in Mazatlan.
Funny story, Jason unwittingly leaves his most precious bag with important documents and things in the TMC ticket office. We got all the way on the boat and parked and were heading into the cabin before he realized. We see him, or what looks like an ant from far away, running back to the ticket office, retrieves the bag that is still sitting on the floor where he left it, and runs back, all within 20-25 minutes of departure. The ticket lady smiled and told him he was really lucky. A trucker gave him a ride back to the ferry. We had a laugh and a beer as we finally got underway, heading for mainland Mexico.