They say you don't really enter Baja proper until you get through Ensenada. I tell you what, the difference was phenomenal! Mex 1 becomes the only road with tarmac. literally. like the weirdest thing is seeing a traffic light and being like, well where is the other road?? Then realising that it is where the “junction” is, but because it is all just dirt and sand everywhere every one just drives every where, there are dirt tracks, but there are not exactly road markings telling you where to drive. You just have to avoid the shacks on the side of the road that are the towns. And when I say town I mean about 5 shacks on the side of the road with a taco stand.
It isn't half beautiful though. I seem to always say that drives are amazing, but they really are! Out side Ensenada the Mex 1 heads in to the mountains that run down the coast. The road winds through the valleys and over the passes as you head south. I took it pretty slow, just cruising and taking in the amazing vistas. My original plan was to head to San Antonio Del Mar and surf the beachie there, but I was more interested in the lava slabs and points further south on the Cabo San Quintin, so that is where I finally decided to head.
What I didn't realise, was how long it would take me to get through the mountains! Due to my slow pace, I ended up approaching San Antonio Del Mar at about the time which I thought I should be finding somewhere to camp! Figuring I could always just up and head off early in the morning, I took the turn off “around the corner from Km124 just before the bridge by the farm house” or whatever my info says. It was a crazy ride down from the foot hills! About 10 miles or so bumping along down to where there was supposed to be a little fishing village.
Supposed to be.
The village has been almost completely covered in sand. The dunes have just engulfed it! It was really eerie pulling up to this little ghost town all the roofs caved in and windows empty. It gave me the shivers and I didn't really want to camp there, but it was getting dark, so I knew I would have to…
I saw a dirt track heading of over the hill to another little river valley, and decided that anything would be better than this. So that is where I am now! It is actually an old camp site, there are still some signs up, but it has all been abandoned! I’m normally good at being alone, but this place just gives me the creeps, there are no towns around here, its just out in the middle of no where, and its completely abandoned! Safe to say I’ll probably be heading off in the morning!
As I suspected, the waves were nothing special when I woke up, so I headed out pretty much straight away (there were some massive sand dunes so I ran up them to watch the sun come up). The next part of the drive wasn't exciting, the fog had come in and the road to San Quintin was pretty much straight. I grabbed some food and fuel there before heading out on to the dirt road to see if I could find Volcanoes. I’m not sure if I have said or not, but they are a series of reef breaks along the the Cabo de San Quintin. There is supposedly a sick right hand sand bottom point out on the very end, but it says only attempt the drive in a very worthy 4x4… if only…
Any way, off I went bumping over the wash boards, it was relatively easy to start, but I should have read my guide more carefully. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten lost…
It said to just follow the main dirt track, which thinking about it now was fairly obvious, but for some reason I thought i’d be better off just keeping on heading towards the sea. I know where I went wrong now, as the road kind of went of back up in the wrong direction, and I just thought that this must be where you turn off for the waves! As it happened I turned off the road about 5 miles north of where I wanted to be! What followed was about an hour of seriously sketchy driving through sand dunes. Once I realised I had probably gone the wrong way down the small rutted sand tracks it was too late. I couldn't turn round you see, as it was just sand either side of me!
So I kept on, Big Brucie ploughing over the sand dunes. I was generally aiming to get closer to the sea, as I thought there may be some good surf to be found. It was near impossible however, due to a few rows of impenetrable dune. So I just kept heading south. At one point I thought that maybe I had passed volcanoes and would at some point stumble upon this sick right point out at the end of the cabo, but the cabo was quite thin, so I thought I should be able to see both bodies of water either side of me. All I could see whre volcanoes and sand dunes….
Eventually I found a place where I could turn around, but by this point I had come quite a way, so I wasn't going to do it all again. There had been a few close calls where I had almost gotten stuck, and didn't want to push my luck. I parked up and decided to walk ahead to see is I could see anything, I could even climb the volcano close by to get my bearings, plus it would be good fun! As it happened I spotted a little fishing village just up ahead! I jogged towards it keeping an eye on the road to see if I could make it the rest of the way if needs be. There was this one hill which was really sandy, but there than that it was ok, so I only had one challenge.
The pueblo turned out to be the very one which I was heading towards in the first place! I couldn't believe it when the young lad I ran in to told me, I had been through all that needlessly! part of me was hoping I had reached the end of the cabo, and the right point would be waiting for me just over the hill! But it was all good. I spied a few potential waves, so I ran back to the truck to make the drive. Brucie smashed it over the hill no problem, and soon enough I was pulling up on a nice looking beach to make camp!
Not long after I had parked up, a older looking chap came up to me. He is a retired american who has been living here for 15 years or so, he is looking after some houses on the point. He had just come over to say hi, let me know that I could come to him if I needed anything generally was just being a really nice guy and letting me know it was safe to camp where I was which was cool. We got talking, and eventually I expressed my interest in the wave at the end of the point. He reckoned I’d be fine, you can just about get away with a 2 wheel drive for most of it, there are just a couple sketchy bits towards the end. It gave me hope though, and made me think about trying tomorrow!
The waves were kind of shitty, so after hanging about and scoping the place out I decided to start hunter gathering and surviving! Donning my suit and assembling my spear gun (Hawaiian sling) I headed out to see what I could do. Turns out I probably do need flippers and good googles rather than the swimming goggles I had bought from home… It didn't take me long to realise I was never going to get anything out here, the water had to much stuff in it, I could barely see 2 feet!
Not to worry, for I had seen a few locals fishing off some rocks, so I ran back to the truck and assembled my rod. I could see they were using the mussels which covered the rocks as bait, so I collected a load and got to work. It took a while, but eventually my float disappeared and I was in! It wasn't hard to bring it in, not the biggest fish but good enough for one mans meal!
I grabbed a load of big mussels and headed back to my truck. When I had been talking with the old American, he had told me that this peninsular was famous for its giant clams. To get some all I needed to do was head out at low tide, Ideally with a pitchfork, but a spade would do, and poke around in the sand until you hit something hard! They would only be a few inches under the sand. With a massive seafood feast of fish, mussels and clams in mind, I grabbed my spade to see what I could find.
Turns out its not as easy as it sounds, but I did find a couple! It took me hours of trackng up and down the long beach, but in the end I had 2 hand sized clams to show for it. Un fortunately this is where my dream of a see food feast started to fall apart.
There was no wood! what beach doesn't have drift wood! All I could find were some old dry bits of bush, which definatly doesn't make for a good cooking fire. I tried my best, I got a good fire going and had everything cooking away, but it all just burned too quickly and not hot enough, I kept putting more and more twigs on but it didn't do me any good. It was long dark by this point, so I had no hope of finding any more wood. But I was so hungry! I had spent all day gathering this meal!
I ended up squatted by a dying fire tearing at a raw fish with my hands and teeth and ripping open half cooked clams. The muscles I left, as I had heard you can get food poisoning, but I doubted you would from mussels as fresh as these. Anyway, all in all it was rather disappointing, and I went to bed covered in fish and sand and without the full belly I was hoping for.
But fear not! For today was a day to be written in history! After waking with the dawn to find disappointing surf, I resolved to try my luck with the sandy roads out to the end of the headland, in hopes of finding better surf. I went to the old American to tell him of my plans, and he said he would keep an eye out for me, and would come looking if I didn't return in a few days. I let my tires down to around 20psi so as for better traction on the sand, stowed most of my possessions for the bumpy ride ahead and headed out!
The first 3 or 4 miles were pretty sketchy, but do-able. At the end of the beach, I ran in to some people who had gotten stuck! I stopped to town them out, but I had no worries! There was a little fishing village about half way out, but when I saw fishing village I mean 3 or 4 houses with a cow and a few pangas on the beach. However! There was what looked like a pumping right hand point break! I almost stopped to surf it it look so good, but I thought I could always come back here if I get stuck, and chances are the point out on the end will be better! So I set off again across another beach, a really long one this time, I saw a few guys in the shallows with pitchforks grabbing clams. When I looked in the back of one of their trucks and saw it full of hundreds of the things, I knew I must have been doing something wrong.
Driving on the beach was great fun, it was massive and the sand pretty hard and smooth, so I actually got a good pace up! It was at the end of the beach where I had my problems..
The beach ended in massive sand dunes and a rock, sandy headland. I stopped on the hard sand and headed out on foot to scope it out. The road appeared again, but it was very sandy, and shot up pretty sharply across the edge of the headland. A steep cliff above and a sharp drop in to the sea to the right. The road looked pretty bad, It was barely wide enough for my truck, sandy and on an angle leaning you out over the cliff to top things off. The only solace was the road quickly turned nice as soon as you climbed the slope. I only had to make it up 10 yards of death before I would be on my way again…
It was tempting…
I would probably get stuck half way up before I slipped over the edge. I would just take it slow, I wasn't going to fall off the edge, and even if I got stuck going up I'd only have to reverse to get out again…
Taking deep breaths, I got back in the truck and started for the bottom of the cliff. Due to my caution, I started at a slow pace, and quickly regretted it. With my mind focused on the hill, I failed to notice the patch of soft sucking sand just ahead of me. By the time I realised it was already to late. I was going too slow to make it all the way. In a desperate attempt to save my self, I applied a soft pressure to the accelerator and attempted to turn around. I steered towards the rocks, turning slowly as not to jam the wheels. My efforts were futile. As soon as my wheels started spinning I stopped. I knew I was stuck and didn't want to dig myself in any deeper! I did lightly try and reverse, but I had already started my turn before I got stuck, so I was no use.
I realised it was probably a sign, “we stopped you here so you didn't kill your self on that hill” it told me. I realised that getting stuck here was the best negative out of the list of negatives that could have happened.
I didn't want to take my sand ladders off unless I was really stuck. I knew I would be out much easier, but it would mean taking them off and possibly running the art work Scott had done. Instead I grabbed my shovel and started digging. not wanting to do more work than I had to, I did little bits at a time, but in the end I had to dig two long trenches back to the harder sand to finally get out. It didn't take long, and by the time I started back the way I had come the day was still young! On the bright side, at least I had found that sick right hand point!
After stopping for a chat with the clammers for some tips (I seem to be getting better at Spanish!), I pulled up for a closer look at the point. My eyes had not decieved me. It was a lovely looking lava point, with a slabbie hollow section at the end which, in this wind, was lining up some epic ramps.
With out further ado, I jumped in my suit and headed out to the empty line up. I almost needn't say empty, it being so obvious. the lack of surfers in this area is crazy considering the potential of all the lava slabs and points! T’was a great surf t’be sure, with dolphins and seals as my only company. It would be nice to have maybe a few mates out, surfing in un known waters, but after my first few waves I got in such a rhythm I almost forgot I was alone! Hooting with the seals, perfect waves rolling down the reef and generally just having a bit of a laugh. The crazy thing was that I was almost spent after about half an hour! The sets were coming through at a rate which just about gave me time to make the long paddle to the peak, so I pretty much didn't sit still for the first part! long right followed long right, and in the end I had to start letting sets pass un-ridden! Taking the paddle at a slower pace and only getting every other set.
This went on for a few hours, but the tide started getting too low, turning that lovely slabie inside to a sucky, dry death pit filled with jagged lava fingers of rock. There was another point just round the corner, breaking in the beach where the fishing village was. I walked down, still in my suit to see if it was worth paddling out. As I stood there watching the waves, a old local approached me. We got chatting in Spanish, at first I struggled, but after 5 or 10 minutes, it became easier, and I started remembering words long forgotten. It felt good when I realised I could actually just about hold a conversation with someone entirely in Spanish! Its not like I was speaking perfectly, but he could understand what I was trying to say, and I got the gist of what he was saying if he talked slowly. When we got talking about the clams the told me his sons had just got back from collecting and I could take as many as I wanted! Not believing my luck I only grabbed 5 and insisted on giving him at least a little money, I gave him 30 pesos, which is about 1.50. He told me he needed to speak with someone from America over the phone who didn't speak Spanish, and asked if I would come over in the morning when he called him so I could speak to the guy. I obliged and we parted ways, him to his shack and me to go do some fishing!
I still had my dream of a sea food feast, and now I had a load of clams it made my job a little easier. It took me less than ten minutes to bring in a nice sized fish, and this time when I went searching for wood there was a lot more on offer! And so I set to work. The clams I arranged around the fire, so the heat would cook them in their shells. I also made a little rice on my camping stove, to add some carbs to the meal. While that was all sorted and the fire burning nice and hot, I started to fry the fish up. I couldn't have timed it better. As the fish was starting to look nice and cooked, the clams opened up. I made myself up a nice plate and sat down to eat in my truck. The clams were amazing, the muscular bit tasting almost like steak, and the rest was like a Mussel. The fish was pretty tasty as well, oily and meaty, like a mackerel.
And so ended my first day of true Baja perfection, perfect waves and perfect food out on a desolate peninsular of sand.
I awoke with the million dollar view. The sun glinting of the pristine waves as they rifled down the point. It was smaller than the day before and the tide was much higher, making it a shorter ride but no less fun. I didn't rush to get in, the wind wouldn’t pick up till lunch time like it did every day, and I wasn’t racing against a crowd of hungry surfers. I washed up, had breakfast, washed up again. And then I saw what I was waiting for, the tide had dropped enough that it started hitting the end section. Jumping in to my suit I paddled out for another epic surf, not big enough to be throwing proper barrels, but it made for a super fun, ripp-able bowl.
When I got out, I jogged over to the old fisherman’s house, to make the call. It turned out his phone didn’t have any credit, but we chatted for a while any way. I then had another chilled day, I caught 2 fish for lunch and had fish and avocado wraps. but by the time I was eating It was more like 3/4 o’clock! the waves were nothing special, so I grabbed my rod again to try for some more fish. Unfortunately, it seemed as though I was out of luck. With the sun near setting I gave up and collected a load of mussels instead. I wasn't all that hungry, so I just opened a tin of spinach and set it by the fire I made, while I boiled the mussls over the flames on a little rocky stand I made.
The swell was gone, and I knew there was possibly another coming in a few days or so. While I sat eating, I decided I would head out the next day, in hopes of catching the swell down at the 7 sisters! The seven sisters are a series of perfect right hand points. famous for their quality but also the long, hard dirt roads you have to take in order to reach them. The closest fuel stations are near 300 miles away, and its not just a “oh I'll just pop down for a quick surf kind of deal” for they are also said to be fickle, and if you make the drive and find them not working, you may as well camp up for a weeks or 2 and wait for another swell, as driving out and back again isn't worth it.
I decided that the next day I would head in to San Quintin and load up on fuel and supplies, grab a last bit of internet before finding a campsite which was said to be an hour south or so. From there I would be set up to make the long 6-7 hour drive to the 7 sisters the next day, with any luck driving for the swell said to come in the day after! the first of the 7 on my list is punta Cono. One of the hardest to reach, but possibly one of the best and where you'll be least likely to find other surfers.
With my plans made, I crawled in to the comfy bed in the back of my truck to grab some kip.
To my disappointment, the ocean had gone flat by the time I woke up. With the tide coming up to high, I didn't want to risk driving back along the beach. Meaning I still had 3 or 4 hours before the route out became passable (by my judgment). I had had my eye on the volcano nearest the wave since I got here on the first day, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to climb it. It wasn't very high, but the slope was steep and covered in sharp gravel-like stones. This made coming back down extremely sketchy, and I ended up practically sliding the whole way down, using my flipflops as skis. The view from the top was fantastic. I could see the whole of the cabo, the south facing finger of land almost like a mini version of Baja itself.
While I was up there, I saw that my exit was still cut off. I figured I still had about 2 hours to kill, which was fine by me. The sun was out and I enjoyed my last few hours on the beach, relaxing with a book. I don’t slow down and relax very often, so It definitely felt good to put my feet up. Saying goodbye to that spit of sand wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I definitly felt like it was time to move on. The swell would be next to non existent for the next few days, so It would be the prefect time to head south.
San Quintin was uneventful, I got everything I needed, found a good spot to get wifi, skyped Chloe and spoke with the family, everything I needed to do before heading to the seven sisters. To make things even easier the campsite I was looking for was sign posted! Can you believe it! Signs! It was cheep to park up, about 5 dollars. I even had a hot shower! The water was salty, but the fact that it was hot was more than I could hope for!
Feeling refreshed and ready to go I got an early night.