Working our way south and hiking Tabor Canyon

The next town on vague schedule is Mulege.

It has a laundrette which we definitely needed and also a micro-brewery which is an added bonus. We headed into this little town and made our way to the laundry, which was shut. The problem you sometimes have when you don’t live to a weekly routine is that it’s very easy to forget what day it is. Today was a Sunday and therefore things were shut. Still, the brewery wasn’t shut so it’s not all bad. We headed there to try a flight of Mexican craft beer and plan what to do next.

As we really did need to wash our clothes, and David and Katie also needed an open phone shop, we decided to stop locally and come back tomorrow. We headed down to the lighthouse, just outside the town centre as it looked like the best bet. The only downside was that according to iOverlander it could be a bit of a party spot for locals. Hoping to tuck ourselves out of the way somewhere we parked up around the back away from the palapas. We hadn’t been there long when another camper came and told us that this would be a loud place later, but said that if we went back over the river and camped on the opposite shore it was much quieter. This seemed like some solid advice, so we moved over.

Arriving at the other side, we were searching for a suitable spot when we got very stuck in the sand. We had sunk too deep to be pushed out, and the tow rope came out. This would probably have been the end of it, but we picked the wrong track to pull the camper down and got even more stuck. The camper who had recommended the spot came over and brought us his tow rope, which was better than ours as it actually had the hooks on it, and we re evaluated the situation. In the end, David towed me onto the beach which was much firmer, where I then took a run up and crossing the soft sandy part that divided the wet sand from the road. Reversing at full tilt backwards into a sand dune is a little unnerving, and I so nearly made it to the hard ground a few metres away.

At this point, David drove back behind Ruby and we set up the tow rope to pull her out the last remaining distance backwards. Lee and Katie shovelled excess sand away from the wheels, while I was in charge of driving. We had found from the previous attempt, that unlike when you normally tow a vehicle and take up the slack of the tow rope first, towing on sand seems to be better if you just accelerate and full speed and jerk the other vehicle out of the ground. David and I put our pedals to the metal simultaneously, and Ruby flew backwards out of the sand and finally onto hard road. Glad to be freed, we rewarded our saviours with a Tecate and looked at where we might sensibly camp. In the end, we left it right there in the middle of the road, it’s not like there’s going to be any traffic after all and at least we knew we could get out.

As we parked up across the road, another camper approached. They were some of the other Europeans that had been parked on the opposing shore and had moved around with us. I warned them that is they went past me, they would probably get stuck and we had a little look at the camper, a hire one. A very basic setup which just had a bed and a cupboard, it was a little to stripped back for me. As we chatted, a kind of howling noise started emitting from the front seat where his wife was sitting. With no kind of explanation, her husband continued to talk to us, completely unfazed. She got out the van, came round the back, didn’t really acknowledge any of us as she shut the back doors and went back to sitting in the front. Her distress didn’t seem to bother her husband, who would have happily chatted for a while I think. When they eventually left for a proper site to park, David said how she had been making faces in the wing mirror the entire time, and was clearly not impressed by having to stop to talk to strangers!

Now Monday morning, we headed back into Mulege to get the washing done. Happily, the laundrette was now open and we heaped our dirty clothes in. it took a while for everything to get completed as the driers weren’t that great, but a few hours later we had a nice bag of clean clothes. Exhausted from these efforts, we went in search of tacos. A little shack just on the outskirts of the village, promised Mulege’s best tacos so we decided to test the theory.

There is no menu, just fish or shrimp tacos. They arrived generously filled and including an onion ring, which is a new one to me. With them came a large plate of salad and different sauces so you could assemble your own taco, just how you wanted it. They were indeed good, but I’m not sure they’re the best ones yet. Washing it all down with a couple of cervezas, we were ready to head off again. We agreed to meet at a point at the bottom of Bahia Concepcion as we both had a few odd things to do on the way. Lee had spotted a stall on the way past that looked like it sold butane, something we had run out of a few days ago. To our delight, it did indeed sell it, and we stocked up. This means that in the morning we don’t have to try and turn the Wallas on to make our tea. This takes a while to do and also our batteries aren’t doing so good so often results in us having to start the engine. Not always something you want to do first thing in the morning. Happy with our discovery, we headed out of town, refuelling on the way down the coast.

We drove past several nice looking beaches, including Santispac, which were all chocka block with big rigs. As nice as they were, there wasn’t all that much space and they were also not free. Hoping to get the spot to ourselves at the bottom we continued on.

The entrance to the bottom of the bay is through ranch land, so Lee got out to undo the ‘gate’ (some sticks and wire). The entrance drops down steeply from the road and is very rough. Fortunately, this section is very short, and I inched Ruby down over the massive boulders and holes.

Once at the bottom there is a perfectly good dirt road, that winds along the coastline. We had arrived first, and we picked a nice looking spot to park up; not too windy, right by the sea and nice and flat.

Shortly after, David and Katie arrived. They said they had been having some problems with the engine, and it was misfiring and struggling to start. We popped the bonnet to have a look, but as it was now running fine there wasn’t much to see. We’d have to wait until the problem presented itself again to have a go at finding that one.

It was a pretty spot here, if a little windy. It seems that it’s hard to find a spot to yourself on the bay here, so to have the beach to ourselves was nice. Here was more of a pit stop on the way down south, so we didn’t spend all that long there the following morning, before we headed out towards the town of Loreto.

We followed behind David and Katie and watched as their engine misfired, chucking out clouds of black smoke. By the time we stopped to look at it, it seemed to have stopped again. Before too long we were in Loreto and at one of the larger supermarkets we had seen for a while. As we pulled into the car park someone offered to clean Ruby, but despite her being a complete state we declined. There is little point in washing your car here, 15 minutes down the road and it’s covered in dust again. Therefore, we were not too happy when we came out to find someone had given it a vague wipe with a cloth. As much as didn’t mind have it cleaned we didn’t really want to pay. It seems like this bloke wanders around the car park wiping cars and hoping for some money. In the end we gave him a token 50mpx, as we could at least see out of the windscreen.

Being in a town, means you basically have to get some tacos. After filling up the water tanks, we met up with Katie and David again who had found tacos for 7mxp each, unfortunately they were only beef so we went in search of our own. In the end we ended up in the only vegan restaurant that Loreto has to offer. Taken with the novelty of this, we ordered two burritos, a vegan hotdog and some smoothies. The burritos were pretty awesome, and Lee even enjoyed his despite the fact that it had pineapple on it, a breakthrough! Although you might not be convinced, looking at his face.

Pleasantly full, we went through a walk around Loreto.

I also managed to find an air valve to fit to our water tank which we hoped would make it a lot quicker and easier to fill our water bottles.

Loreto is an odd combination of run down and desolate plots, with nice new houses next to them. I guess it’s slowly being bought up by American tourists.

Our next camp spot was planned so that we could do a hike the following day, so towards the end of the afternoon, we left for Juncalito Beach. Popular with campers, there were already several others here spread down the beach. Including this literal garden shed conversion from Alaska.

We did debate driving right down the end of the beach for a less windy spot, but without anyone friends to help give us a shove out we decided to play it safe.

It was nearly dark before Katie and David arrived, it turns out that Mister Taro got worse and they had to take it to a mechanic. Fortunately, an easy and cheap fix, the coolant sensor had failed and David already was carrying a spare. As it got dark, we hunted for an elusive Aimee who despite her LED collar, was hard to find in the bushes. We ended up sleeping up downstairs that night, as the wind was so strong. So strong in fact that when we initially put the pop top down, and didn’t strap it down, the wind blew it back open.

That morning, we watched the hordes of pelicans on the shore. I’ve gone from never seeing a pelican, to having seen so many I couldn’t possibly count them, in the space of a few months.

The best thing about watching the pelicans is watching them fish together, in perfect synchronisation.

Then it was time to head out to Tabor Canyon for a hike, the mountains of which can be seen in the background here.

The start of the hike is only around 5km away from Juancalito Beach, which we had just left, where you are able to park at the end of a small gravel track in the mouth of the canyon.

The initial part of the hike is nice enough, starting off gentle ascending the river bed.

After a short distance you reach the first of the series of pools, which was filled with rather stagnant water and surrounded by some quite sizeable insects that looked like they would definitely sting you. We moved hastily on.

We were also lucky to have a glorious sunny day again, if there were some nice pools a swim would be tempting.

The further you go up the canyon, the more water you get to. The pools become a bit nicer, if a bit green.

The first slightly challenging part is here, where you have to scramble up the side walls of the canyon to by-pass these large boulders.

After only a mile, you hit a place where there are a pile of large boulders which appear to completely obstruct the route up canyon. We debated trying to climb the rock face, but decided it wouldn’t be the best idea.

After a little searching, we found that you actually follow the water up and under a large rock and behind here they are some strategically lodged branches and ropes so that you can climb up the rocks and continue.

Once above this section, not only is the hike even better, but also less crowded as not as many people want to attempt the rope climbing section.

As we climb higher, we get an even better view back towards the Sea of Cortez.

This little oasis is around 2.5m into the hike and at this point it gets even harder to continue.

We judged at this point, that given the time of day we should probably turn around. We had been a bit later starting than we had planned, and we were also pretty tired. This isn’t just a walk, but a full body workout, as you climb and pull yourself up and around large rocks.

On the way down, we met David and Katie on the way up, having started later than us. We continued back down and before too long we were back at Ruby where we decided to wait for David and Katie. We had planned to go to the hot springs, but it was too late for the tide. This looked like it would be the last night we were travelling together, as they were headed out down a difficult dirt road and we wanted to head further south. Earlier that morning, we had met John and Ina in their shuttle bus conversion, who were also travelling. They told us about a van meet up that was at Todos Santos from Friday to Sunday, what swung it for me was that there was a chance we would get to see some baby turtles.

By the time we had all finished the hike, it was nearly sunset so we headed for a local beach only 10 or minutes down the road, Playa Regalito Sur. Decided to park up on a big flat section just behind the beach to try and escape the wind, we set up for the night. We were both pretty tired, after a hike that involved hauling ourselves up and around large boulders so we didn’t have a late night.

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