Coast to oasis through 175km of desert

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Mision San Ignacio, a Jesuit mision set up in the 1700s

Over the last four days I have run the 145km from Guerrero Negro to San Ignacio. I started at one of the world’s greatest salt mines on the west coast of the Baja peninsula and finished in San Ignacio, a oasis in the desert.

The first day was about 38km and at no point did I divert from the same course. The road was arrow straight and cut directly through the desert. While I love a good desert it can get a little monotonous so it is lucky that I finally discovered podcasts. While in Guerrero Negro I downloaded the podcast app and then loaded my MP3 player with as much as possible. This included the BBC World Service – The Inquiry, Desert Island Discs, History Extra, Freakonomics and The Archers. These combined with my Michel Thomas language courses and music have allowed my to become my own DJ and days will never be boring again! At the end of the day I arrived at a small unnamed settlement that had a shop and a place I could camp. After finding somewhere suitable (dog poop free) I set up camp and tried to get a good rest, not helped by a rather enthusiastic guard dog.

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My roadside campsite

The second day was very much the same as the first but this time the sun had turned up the power and partnered with a wind blowing straight into my face. There were a couple distractions that helped pass the day. 1) there was a turn. it was only slight but it did mean that the wind went from being in front to slightly behind. 2) a group of 20 Mexicans cycling to Los Cabos. We had a nice chat at the side of the road, took pictures etc and they very kindly replenished my energy bar supply. One of the cyclists decided that he wanted to experience what I was doing and dismounted his bike and decided to jog about 3 km with me running along behind pushing his bike. He took a particular interest in Charlie the bear and continuously chatted to him!!! I also got a nickname – caballo loco (translates as Crazy Horse)!! I finally arrived in a town called Vizcaino and stumbled over a RV park that let me camp there for a few dollars. The town was nothing exciting but did have a little WiFi access that allowed me to catch up on admin.

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A rest stop on the road to Vizcaino.

When I set off the next morning I had two choices: push for San Ignacio (73km) or split the distance into two. I decided that the best plan was to run as far as I could on the first day which would mean I would arrive in San Ignacio early the next day and give me a half day rest before pushing to the coast.

The run today saw me come out of the real flat desert and begin the slow rise into the hills again. towards the end of the day the scenery started to finally change from flat desert to rolling hills. After about 43km I stumbled over a small restaurant (or something similar) at the side of the road and replenished my water supplies and snuck in a cheeky beer! After another 12km the sun started to retreat by the hills and I had to start my search for a stealth campsite. When in the middle of no where you would think that finding somewhere to sleep would be easy but that isn’t actually the case. When the landscape is mostly flat and covered in ground plants with fierce thorns that enjoy popping tyres it gets difficult. Luckily I stumbled over a old quarry and managed to find a flat spot sheltered from the road and set up camp. Despite being hidden I still jumped at every sound thinking that someone might be coming to rob me forgetting that I was about 20km away from a settlement and to get to where I was any potential bandito would have to drive there… need to get a little more confident.

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A view across the desert

Today was the final day on my push to San Ignacio and it was comforting to be back in the rolling hills. One of the great things about stealth camping is that you are up at the crack of dawn and get to run as the sun rises. Today was amazing as you can see below.

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Returning to the hills near San Ignacio

Literally about 10km further on from the above photo I arrived in San Ignacio. This town is nestled in an oasis (see below) and is such a contrast to everything I have been experiencing over the last few days. Palm trees surround a large river and there is so much green and life. Unfortunately green also means flies… lots of flies. So many flies that it is actually difficult to stand outside without being driven to distraction. There is also no wind which means that the suns power can really be felt. For both of these reasons I decided to find a hotel and enjoy air conditioning while cleaning my kit.

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The oasis at San Ignacio

The one thing I did manage to do was visit the Mision San Ignacio which is pictured at the top of this blog. It was built in the 1700’s by the Jesuits. Wikipedia had this to say:

“The site for the future mission was discovered in 1706 by Francisco María Piccolo at the palm-lined Cochimí oasis of Kadakaamán (“arroyo of the carrizos”). The site proved to be a highly productive one agriculturally, and served as the base for later Jesuit expansion in the central peninsula. The impressive surviving church was constructed by the Dominican missionary Juan Gómez in 1786. The mission was finally abandoned in 1840.”

 

 

One comment

  1. Brilliant work Jamie!

    I only discovered them recently too…I’m not to tech savvy…podcasts are awesome…if you ever need some uplifting music I can recommend Armin van Buuren a state of trance…they are 25mins each and one a week…brilliant pick me up music when you are in a long road with no turns!

    Fantastic photos, we can only imagine what it is really like being there! You’re not missing much here weather wise, starting to get cold but not really winter cold yet! Shorts and t shirt for you every day I should imagine?!

    Take care matey

    Ps…do you prefer emails or comments on the blog…let me know as I don’t want to comment on here if you’d rather emails!

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