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Old 04-20-2019, 07:55 PM   #11
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Part 9

East Side of Bahía Concepción and Sierra los Gavilanes

Next, I made my way south to Bahía Concepción. For a long time I've wanted to explore the peninsula on east side of this bay.

I drove up the east shore until sunset, when I camped on a nice (if unremarkable) section of pebbly beach. (GPS:26.6247,-111.7111)

Punta Santo Domingo Beach

My goal was Punta Santo Domingo, at the northern end of the peninsula. At some point I had scribbled some notes in my Baja Almanac about a nice white sandy beach being out there.

Just before reaching the beach, I managed to destroy my right-front tire with a nasty unpatchable sidewall puncture. It was totally my fault. Preventable. I was tired and had recklessly started driving a bit too enthusiastically through a rocky wash. During one hard left turn, my right front tire rolled under, exposing the sidewall to a big sharp rock. Furthermore, I now believe I had my tire pressure set too low. I had aired down to 1/3 highway pressure -- which I find is good for sand and pebble beaches, but this is probably too low to use in rocks. I think I should have been running my tires closer to 2/3 pressure.

As the ruptured tire was a goner anyway, I decided to just drive rest of the way the beach, rolling along for a quarter mile on my flat tire. It would be so much nicer to do my tire change on the beach! Yes, it turned out to be worth it - so much more comfortable changing a tire with a cool sea breeze rather than up in a dusty wash. However, jacking in the sand is a bit tricky, as it tends to sink in.

Here's the beach at Punta Santo Domingo. (GPS:26.8646,-111.8441)


Arroyo los Pintados

I wandered inland to explore Arroyo los Pintados. Sure enough, it is painted! After parking at end of the driveable wash, I hiked a half mile farther up the canyon and spotted lots of pictographs.

(end of part 9...)

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Old 04-20-2019, 07:59 PM   #12
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Part 10

Gavilan Manganese Mine

I headed east on a side trip, crossing the hills in order to check out the abandoned manganese mine on the east side of the peninsula. (GPS:26.8761,-111.7929)

Wriggling around among the desolate gray walls and rock was this bright blue caterpillar! I've never seen anything like it, and I still haven't been able to identify it. Anyone know what this is?

(end of part 10...)

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Old 04-20-2019, 08:04 PM   #13
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Part 11

Tire Shopping

If I was to continue my road trip adventure, I needed to buy a new spare tire. Unfortunately I didn't end up have much success locating my tire size (LT305/70R16).

First I visited several local llanteras (tire shops). At each one, the routine was that we would poke around among the old tires lying in the driveway or out back on junked cars, looking for a size match. Not much luck. At one point, we did find a tire matching my desired size, but it was so trashed there were only cobblestone-like bumps where the tread should be. I didn't think it was likely to hold up.

Finally I made my way back up to Santa Rosalía, but the Bridgestone tire shop, "Autopartes Santa Fe", was almost entirely depleted of stock! The sales guy apologized, explaining something I didn't quite understand about a lack of tires there for the past four years. Finally I decided to just buy a much smaller street tire that would fit my 16" rims. This tire couldn't be used for long if I was in 4x4, and if on the rear it could wear out my limited slip differential, but at least I had a chance of rolling out any potential trouble if I did lose another tire.

La Trinidad Pictographs

About 15 miles southwest of Mulege, I hiked into a canyon with flowing water and nostril-like caves looking for pictographs. I finally located the rock panel - there's a lot going on here! Animals, hunting scenes, and several sets of child-sized white handprints.

Caguama Microwave Towers

I had tried in the past to drive up to these communication towers, but there had been a locked gate. But this time the gate was open! Then at the top, I found that the tower site has been abandoned and the equipment looted.

In any case, it's a great spot to view the Las Tres Virgenes volcanos. (GPS:27.4053,-112.5482)

(end of part 11...)
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Old 04-20-2019, 08:09 PM   #14
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Part 12

El Arco to Bahía de los Angeles Loop

My final adventure was to revisit the El Arco to Bahía de los Angeles loop. The El Arco road was in great shape this time - recently graded, and the steep pass at La Cuesta de la Ley has been paved. I ended up following this beer truck for a while, which was dragging a couple tires behind it for some reason. I wasn't sure what was up with that, but I've been told it's an attempt to smooth out the road's washboarding.

Bahía San Rafael South

Here, I'm camping at Playa Morro Blanco, one of my favorite beaches. The access road is eroded, rough, and there are tight squeezes through bushes that will scratch your vehicle. But for me, the seclusion is worth it.

To get photos of these shy red crabs, I had to sneak up on them - a few inches at a time over a period of 5 minutes. (GPS:28.4552,-112.9902)

This scenic lagoon pool is all the way at the east end of Bahía San Rafael, at Punta Ballena.

Bahía de las Animas

There's a lovely northeast-facing beach on the sand spit at (GPS:28.8190,-113.3590). The beach is used as the access road for an active fishing camp at the end of this sand bar, so camping isn't totally private.

Time to Go Home

My next thought was to do some more exploring north of Agua Amarga, but (luckily) I happened to pause and do a quick inspection under the van. The radiator was leaking! And this wasn't just from a loose hose.

Not a good time to go remote!

At this point, I decided my van had accumulated too many insults. I had a substandard spare tire, a noisy loose rear brake pad, a detached muffler, a cracked windshield, and now a leaky radiator. I purchased some packets of stop-leak powder back in Bahía de los Angeles. (At 20 pesos each, I splurged and bought two.) I realized it was time to call it quits, and limp my van 1700 miles back home to Seattle.

-- Geoff
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Old 04-20-2019, 08:21 PM   #15
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Fantastic trip report, and the GPS coordinates are a great addition. Thank you.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 04-20-2019, 09:16 PM   #16
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Nice post... kept me interested and wanting to go myself!
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Old 04-20-2019, 09:20 PM   #17
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Evidently I jumped the gun with my earlier post, didnt realize you were adding so much more...Enjoyed all of your trip. Now I'm also curious to hear if the Stop Leak actually worked?
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Old 04-20-2019, 09:39 PM   #18
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Well done report, it brought back lots of good memories. Thanks.........
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Old 04-20-2019, 11:01 PM   #19
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More Baja Fun!

Nice! Looking forward to finding these places next time, thanks for sharing, a great resource for sure. Hoping that’ll be with the fam next winter. Jeff, I know you’ll be there!
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:35 AM   #20
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Thanks Geoff... another great trip report! Mind sharing what mapping software and map you were using for this trip?


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baja, baja california

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