(This is an old blog that didn’t send) Running the Valle de Los Chirios – tots in love!!

**SORRY FOR LACK OF PROOF READING!!!!**

I fear that my blog may get repetitive but I can only blame the amazing places I am visiting for that. First it was Washington state, then the Oregon coast. The Redwood Forests and Big Sur came next with south California all being heralded as the most amazing and beautiful places I had visited so far. Well I am sorry to say they have all been trumped and not just for being the most beautiful on this trip but most stunning scenery on any trip. I have fallen in love with Baja California, Mexico, or to be more specific the Valle de Los Cirios. This section started just after leaving El Rosario and runs down through the centre of the Baja Peninsular. It has taken me just under a week to run through this amazing landscape and each day has added something new to make it so special.

Just after leaving El Rosario you climb up into the hills and run along a road that zigzags through rolling hills strewn with cacti. I knew the cacti were coming but nothing prepared me for the sheer size and variety that grew all around. I am not going to dwell too much on the first day as I covered that in a previous blog.

On day two I woke and once my camp was cleared up made my way back to the road and south. After a few kms I stumbled over a small Rancho that offered food and drink. I was to learn that these little house were to exist all along the route and become an important part of my logistics. After a quick coffee and pastry I continued down the road feeling fresh and rearing to go – maybe something to do with the sugar!

Today’s landscape was mostly flat with an amazing amount of color. When one thinks of a desert sand leaps to mind but here the reddish soil was just a canvas for the most amazing display of colors. There had been a couple of hurricanes recently and I believe that the rain has meant that the desert has sprung to life. The run was amazing and once again my biggest problem was having to stop to take photos of everything around.

Later in the day something great happened. Before I left I asked people for suggestions for a expedition mascot and to be honest the suggestions were very few!! Well as I round a corner I was horrified to see a lovely big teddy bear impaled on a cactus. I leaped across the barrier and saved him. He sits proudly on my stroller and guards my tent each night.

At the top of the same hill a couple of trucks pulled over to enquire what I was doing. Once the overview of story was told they (a group of cool Alaskan surfers) jumped out and shared some beers and a impromptu party kicked off at the side of the road. This was a welcome distraction and they were a really cool group.

The scenery was to change again. As I decended the landscape became flat and more desert like with a healthy wind blowing. While hot and difficult going it was an amazing place to be doing what I love.

That night I started to feel my hip tighten and fortunately another rancho appeared. I pulled in and set about making camp only to find all three tires had once again been punctured by the little thorns that seem to be rather prevalent around here!! I could bang on a long time about punctures, thorns and solutions but it might get tedious. Lets just leave it that with the advice of motor bikers, friendly strangers and Justin then problem seems to be in check, for the time being!!

After an ok night sleep and a frustrating morning I got going once again. Today was to be the day I was going to be blown away by the scenery. But before we get there I have to mention and thank the three American lads who offered me breakfast on the side of the road. They were heading to south America in van and had a great set up. Thanks guys!

Later that day I climbed over a ridge to find a landscape with large boulders strewn across it. In between the rocks were large cacti and cirios trees. Cirios trees are tall with a single trunk that curls at the top and ends with a yellow flower blooming at the top. I had seen nothing like these before and was overwhelmed by just how beautiful everything was. Someone described this landscape as if god had picked up a mountain, crushed it in his hands scattered the pieces. In reality it is an old seabed. It’s weird to think that if it had still been a sea then there is a chance I would be exploring it with a mask and air tank instead.

After about 10 kms of this extraordinary scenery I arrived in Catavina, my base for the next two days. Catavina has three accommodation options – hotel, motel and camping. After much deliberating I decided to splash out and stay in the hotel and while it was a little out of my budget I am glad I went for it as so many things happened as a result of this decision.

The first was meeting an American anthropologist who kindly offered me a beer and talked me through the rest of my trip. The second was meeting a local chap who offered me the use of a small cabin for my second night. After I checked out he led me to this little oasis hidden in the rocks. It was a rustic affair but that was part of the charm. It seemed to be a stopping point for many travelers including Graham Macintosh who is the author of a book called Into a desert place. Strangely Graham is also a Scot who lived in London and decided to visit Baja and fell in love with it.

After a lovely stay I hit the road again and just after starting I was passed by a large convey of motorbikes. The last bike pulled over to find out more about what I was doing. After a good chat it only transpired that he was the producer of the Long Way Round with Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor!!! Russ, my pitch is coming your way!!!

The scenery was to change again. At about Km 200 the land changed into a plain with grass and large peaks on the horizon. As I ventured deeper larger boulder mountains appeared and to me they looked like naked mountains.

At about km 225 I was greeted by a convey of people traveling south. I had been waiting for this moment as it was the convey that had a package for me with new supplies from my sponsors The Rudy Project and Vango, a wee present from an old client and an amazing amount of stuff from Justin.

After I had unpacked and worked out how to transport everything I managed to make it another 10km to the next rancho where I suffered more punctures but more importantly enjoyed a lovely meal in cafe/restaurant.

The scenery continued to impress the next day as I passed through more dramatic landscapes strewn with armies of cacti and cirios trees.

If I could make one recommendation to anyone looking for a holiday then it would be ignore all the scare stories you hear about Mexico and get down here – it is amazing! When I have some spare time I am going to put together a blog post with all the places I have stayed and eaten that should make any trip hassle free!!

Written on my Nokia Lumia 1020

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