The light is different on the Baja California. Softer, not as colorful and less contrast as in other parts of the world. The low light gives the desert a somehow mystical feeling. Warm and cozy.
I could easily write a love letter to this long and narrow Peninsula because I really fell in love with the so extreme unique landscape. The desert is always the type of environment I feel most happy in. My favorite terrain – it is just damn gorgeous in general.
But this one here is different and just strokes my soul on every next bend where I get to see a new corner of this extraordinary part of Mexico. It won my heart within the first few days after I crossed the border from Gringolandia – the USA.
It is quiet, peaceful and remote, but that’s not everything – it is far more than that.
Garden of Eden came to mind after I saw those weird Cirios trees for the first time. It felt like I had left Planet Earth. I couldn’t stop looking at them and couldn’t resist touching these funny creatures and stopped more often than I cycled.
Paradise was home for a while from now on. Better than any 5 Star Hotel anywhere in the world. It was my 1 Million Star Hotel which was all for free on top of it.
All these long nights I had under those giant cacti and Cirios trees so far, are some of the more special ones of the entire trip, if not the most special of all. There is not a single noise which distracts me in any way – there is only me and the quirky vicinity.
People might think, wow that’s boring – or how lonely to be out there by yourself. No, not lonely and not boring at all.
Loneliness always comes when I am in a town, a city or being surrounded by people I have nothing in coming with. Then I feel displaced. Not fitting in any longer is sometimes hard to deal with. But out here, where there is nobody, I miss nothing and it feels like I am the happiest person around.
The campfire is lit with a single match in seconds. The smell of burning cacti wood is far less intense than eucalyptus bark in the Outback of Australia, but it has its own special aroma.
The nights are still a bit chilly. Let’s call them down jacket temperatures. But the days warm up quickly and are actually really pleasant.
What I wondered all the time was the lack of bugs, birds and mammals. No lizards, snakes nothing. I might have seen 20 different types of birds in total and only 1 coyote, a few chipmunks and not much else.
The vultures are predominant and it feels a bit funny seeing those symbols of the Old West Cowboy movies in reality. A vulture on a cactus branch is the picture here. Every day.
Cooking on my new Hobo stove became routine by now. Within a short while the meal is done and after a long strenuous day in the saddle, this started to become my favorite moment of the day.
Soya and Pasta with Tuna is the dish along the Baja Divide. Easy to carry, tasty and even a bit of a filler. During the day I eat mainly dried fruits especially dates, if possible bananas, apples and avocados.
Water is an issue. There is simply no water out here. Hardly any farmers, almost no traffic at all – maybe one soul in 3 days. I always carry at least 6 liters before I leave a town and hope it last for 2 nights. That allows me to camp early and start late and I can soak up the atmosphere as much as possible.
A few years back I never really understood why other cyclists, like Cyclingcindy or the Cyclingdutchgirl told me how much they enjoy their mornings around camp. That it takes them an hour to pack up and be ready to go. I was always ready in 10 minutes and wondered what those girls are doing all morning? What a waste of time….
But, that’s exactly what I am doing now. I have my fire in the morning to enjoy a hot cup of tea. I take pictures of the rising sun, I enjoy it when the air is warming up and the fire gives me a cozy morning greeting. I study my map, I sing and talk with myself and I search for the unknown around my little spot.
It is so nice to be out here and to have it all to myself. And I am happy that I have the time to soak it all in. It’s far away from being a waste of time – it is the way to enjoy life! I got it now!
I was a bit unlucky with the weather. It rained pretty often and the soil turned into a muddy clay type disaster. Once I was caught in the middle of a section between resupply possibilities and it took me half a day to push my bike through the mud to the next tarmac road..
The Baja is a paradise for photographers. But it is also a bit tricky to capture those giant Cirios trees and Cardon cacti as well as the elephant trees which are sometimes dotted in between this chaotic desert life. But the soft light gives great opportunities for nice colorful pictures.
Some sections of the trail are sandy. Really sandy. But now and then there is the possibility to avoid the track and to ride next to it – but with the risk of being trapped by thorns and bushes.
The cholla cacti is the worst of all. Those thorns catch you right away even when you just touch them briefly. And they stick nasty to your pants and even in your skin.
It is a desert, right? But it has its places where you think you might have pitched your tent on a lawn somewhere in Northern Europe. I had mornings when the tent was turned into a water dripping cave. Soaked from the heavy dew which came out of nowhere.
There must be a lot of moisture in the ground, something I would have never expected. Clothes sometimes need as much time to dry as they do in a thick forest area. Pretty strange.
The beaches are the other main attraction along the Baja Divide trail. The Peninsula is of course surrounded by water. The Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sea of Cortez in the east. I am not a beach lover, but those beaches are a real treasure.
Stay tuned for “The Beach” blog post.