Treasures of Baja Story Print
Monday, 28 January 2008 01:47

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Note: There are 31 individual photographs associated with this adventure. We have created "thumbnail" images linking to them at appropriate points in the story. To view the photographs, just left-click on the thumbnail images, then use your "back" button to return to the story.

Treasures of Baja Adventure


A group of explorers gather in November 2000 to take this journey back in time as we study what the lost people of Baja California left for us to see. We find many wonders to marvel, ponder and enjoy in this land of enchantment. Join us as we go from site to site learning and trying to understand mysteries of these ancient peoples lives in this wonderful place as we imagine to have been thousands of years ago.

Written by Frenchie with photos by Bill, Sharon, Sue and Colby.

Explorers; Bill, Sharon, Sue, Colby, Mindy, Dr. Dave, Tom, Dr.Dan, Dan, Rena, and Frenchie

With some late cancellations that are usual on the longer adventures, we meet up in Old Town San Diego for a get "acquainted dinner". We had a couple who were unable to make the dinner but they assured me that they were going to meet us in the morning. With dinner at a Mexican restaurant to help set the feeling for the exciting adventure to the south we could feel the adventure was starting.

Day one

We meet for breakfast and went over our last check of goods. I had forgotten my camera and went without it,. (I forgot to check it off of the checklist) and I know better then to forget to check the list. With the insurance, and fuel done we turned our sights to Mexico. After a short time getting our Visas filled out we were off to our first stop, the bakery in La Rumorosa for some fresh pastries. After a quick gas stop we continued east to the turnoff and on dirt to Canyon de Guadalupe. We make a stop at a side canyon to see a archeology site with some nice writings.

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Beautiful Canyon de Guadalupe is our first night of camping with an added bonus, invigorating hot springs spas.

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Day two

We begin out day with a short walk to a breathtaking waterfall before we pack up for the days adventures. The canyon below the falls:

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Our next stop is at another undeveloped hot spring and lunch. This took some time and we had to cross a large boulder field to get there.

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We arrived a little later then planned so we did not have time to explore the archeology site. Mindy and Dr. Dan did not want to cross the bolder field so they stayed back, on the way out Dan got the first ding in the quarter panel of the truck. We then picked up part of the Baja 2000 Race course for a while. We had a sudden steering problem with Mindy’s Toyota truck. We all grabbed our tools and jumped in to see what was wrong. Bad news the idler arm broke inside and we could not weld this and repair it on site. We moved to the side of the road and set up camp as it was late in the day.

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Day three

Mindy and I got up early in the morning arriving at a U.S. auto parts store when it opened. We were in luck as they had the part and we were off. With some gas a wrong turn or two in Mexicali and we were back to meet the others. Dave grabbed the part when we arrived and as I finished packing we were off. We were headed for the almost dry lake when the line of vehicles started to sink in the mud. The crust was dry but that was the end of the dry, it was very soft and wet underneath. We backtracked to the higher road and around the lake we went. We fueled up in San Felipe and went to find a restaurant with fish tacos for Dave. Town was almost deserted as it was late on Monday when we arrived.

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The excitement was just starting as we wanted to make up time, when Bill and Sharon got a flat tire. It was dark now we had gone another couple of hours when I caught the same disease as Bill and Sharon, in a foot deep powder covering the road I got a flat. The team jumped in and we were on the road again very quickly. It was late when we made our camp site on a Gulf of California beach. This still left time for fireworks, beach combing by flashlight and a impromptu party before bedtime.

Day four

The morning sun warmed the day

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as we awoke in this beautiful site. After the morning ritual our next planned stop was at my friends place "Coco’s Corner" for a very cold beer

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and to sign the guest book.. Back on the road again and pavement where we headed to some of the most beautiful cactus in the world. Stopping for some photos we were gone headed to the border of Baja Sur (south).

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With some explaining why we had not paid for our visas we headed into town to take care of that. We then had 100 miles to go before we could turn our sights to our next meeting with the officials for our permits. I had made arrangements on a previous adventure to be there at a certain date and time to get the permits. They were waiting for us with smiles. We toured the Museum as they worked on the paperwork and we picked it up on our way out. We then decided to stay at a campground with showers instead of a hotel.

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Dave and Tom wanted a more remote location so they headed out to the desert for a bit of solitude.

Day Five

We spent the morning shopping and finishing our site seeing. We then backtracked 25 miles to the turnoff to the mountains, canyons and the caves. We regrouped and headed for the hills.

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The route went from flat to a steep climb, then tapered off as we started climbing.

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Arriving at the first stop to check in and more paperwork we headed to the Rancho Guadalupe and our new vehicles. We will switch from four wheels to four legs as we enter the canyons.

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All of our gear is loaded into bags and packed on the donkeys, while we get the mules. Then without warning (where is a camera when you need one), Dave is excited when mounting the mule and throws his leg over the saddle on the mule and whole body follows to the ground. We started with a laugh at his expense, but we all got our chance over the next couple of days. The second time is a charm for Dave.

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We head across the plateau to the top of the canyon. All the time we are thinking this is not so bad!! We stop at the top to check the cinches on the saddles and we found out why soon enough.

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All of this to see the rated #3 in the world of cave paintings. The caves are dated at 10,600 years old and the paintings of thousands of years old.

Instantly the trail turns down the canyon, on paths from 6 feet to 6 inches in width. There were some among the group who were not confident about the ride and putting our lives in the hands of "Mules".

Dr. Dan who insisted on walking in and out, an with a small backpack he took off. Down the trail we went, Bill who was uncomfortable about riding walked his mule for a while. When he decided to get on unbeknownst to him he was at the steepest part of the trail. Bill was a good gauge of the trail as he was going along, you always knew how steep it was by his very verbal reactions. Mindy who was the experienced rider in the group took to it like a duck to water. Sue was a trooper as she navigated the canyon walls and around the overhanging cactus. Colby was a little uncomfortable , but with his big smile it was hard to tell. Tom was adjusting to this well as he hung on tight. Dan was not sure this was the best part of the trip, but was busy talking to the guides. Sharon was really looking forward to this part of the adventure and was in awe of the beautiful canyons. Now I was uncomfortable with the idea of getting in the saddle, as I do not ride the horse and burros that we have at home let alone over the side of a mountain. I needed to adjust the saddle on the way down

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and remove a cactus thorn or two.

Day five comes to an end as we arrive at our first nights canyon camp. It was thousands of feet below where we started and we are in a small clearing in a tropical thorn forest.

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We hear the sound of the cow bells around the burros neck as the second set of guides bring in the packs. The tent sights were picked out as we set up for the night. We started dinner shortly after that and sat around the fire covering the days events in a lighter tone. Our big question was when would the full moon rise over the canyon walls. Coby won the bet an we crawled into our beds for the night.

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Day six

We arise to the sound of chickens from a nearby Rancho Santa Teresa hidden in the canyon from the world. We prepare our breakfast and pack our gear for our continuing journey further into the canyons in search of the #3 rated cave paintings in the world. With the rounding up of the animals we loaded up and were off. The canyon walls were steep and some in the group were a little saddle sore and decided to walk in the canyon bottom. This would get them to our next campsite where we would hike to the remote caves. Our trail would take us along steep cliffs and 45 degree slopes that I would find hard to walk. The mules put their heads down and picked each step very carefully they knew that I did not want to fall off. We could see and hear the group below us as we rode along above them. We were able to see some of the caves across the canyon above the hikers that they missed from below. We had to bypass the caves to get down off of the cliffs and into camp.

We arrived at our next campsite where we would spend the next two nights.

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Once we had everything setup we left in search of the caves. Along with our escort a friendly new camp dog we called "Buddy". Our first cave was to be Cueva Pintada, a very large cave and one of the best with hundreds of feet of giant paintings. Humans, bird and animal paintings were 30 to 50 feet above our heads. Just how did they get there to paint them? We could not figure it out. We all stood in disbelief at the spectacular works we were seeing, everyone stumbled for words to describe it.

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We left this cave as we hiked to the next Cueva de las Flechas. This was across the canyon and a bit easier of a climb to access. The figurines were pierced with arrows

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and the feeling of violence all around us. The stories of hunting and conflicts covered the walls. The photos can never capture the feelings you experience seeing this in person. We return to camp and discuss the findings of the day and prepare dinner. The evening is filled with our stories from our personal experiences as we turn in for the evening.

Day seven

Begins with the cooking and anticipation of today's caves. With Buddy leading the way on to the Birthing Cave where the rock engravings depict female genitalia and other items.

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A short distance further we enter a shallow cave but darker then the others with large boulders have dropped from the ceiling leaving protected rooms behind them.

We drop down to the canyon floor to the intersection and a side canyon. This was a short hike up to Cueva Broca de San Julio a light south facing cave. The size of the paintings can be seen by the comparison to our guide. This was another inspiring mural explained by our canyon guide. We all hike down to the water for a lunch break and a chance to relax by the water.

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The trail leads us back through camp to another side canyon as we scramble up the canyon walls. The next stop is high above the canyon floor. This caused us some worry as we had to help Buddy up a section of the trail, he was not going to be left behind. Cueva de la Soledad is on a high perch on a side canyon wall is different in that it has abstract motif designs in the petroglyphs. We return to our camp trying to decide what these paintings meant. The evening set with some more story telling and group bonding.

Day eight

We finish our food and pack up for the climb out of the canyons. The animals are loaded and some want to hike to our first camp and others ride. Buddy follows us all the way to our vehicles and is shunned by the other people at the rancho where we find out that his name is Toby.

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Many had gotten quite attached to him in the canyon and were in tears as he ran after us as we left. We had to have a local boy hold him until we were out of site to keep him from following us.

We then proceeded down the road to the highway and a smooth ride on pavement again. We made a quick stop for needed fuel and supplies and headed north. We stopped a restaurant for dinner and the Dan’s decide to head for the border wanting to save some of their vacation for another trip. We find a quiet place an a abandoned ranch for a camp for the night. We settle in for a nice campfire and some quiet time.

Day nine

The morning brings us to Dave’s ingenious hot shower attachment to his Jeep. We are all looking forward to the warm shower, since the canyon creeks were not solar heated very well. We finish our packing and we are headed to the cave near Catavina a different type and newer paintings. The short hike to the cave is easy from what we have done in the past few days. There were many colored designs of abstract and unique figures.

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This is so much different from what we have seen at the other caves.

We pass through the Vascano desert

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home to some of the most beautiful and unrivaled scenery. This takes us past extinct volcanoes and many wonders on our way north. We proceed to the Pacific Coast where we set up camp for our last night. Picking a bluff overlooking the coast we settle in for the night.

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We do some beach combing for drift wood and a nice fire.

Day ten

Everyone is somber as we pack for the last time. The trip up the highway is more relaxed as we head to the last of the pure Indians in all of Baja. We arrive at Santa Caterina to buy of hand made pottery and baskets.

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Mindy was after the broken ones and pieces for her garden, which they did not understand, why she would by broken pottery. Mindy was ecstatic with the goods she got for almost nothing.

We drove down the road and found a view point where we had our lunch. Our last meal as the Explorers Club adventure was coming to an end. We crossed over the border and headed towards San Diego as we all bid farewell and went our separate ways.


This was an exciting adventure where perfect strangers were able to bond, enjoy some time and experiences together and part as good friends with wonderful shared new memories.

This is adventure at its best! Just one of the wonderful less traveled routes and sites most travelers do not know exist and Western Adventures provides. You can be a part of upcoming adventures and forever be changed after having experienced what most only dream about.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:06 )