After three perfect days in Cabo Pulmo the famous Baja wind came back. The wind in Baja can be intense, turning a calm bay into one with white caps and breakers in the matter of hours, it reminds me of Le Mistral winds in Southern France. If you are beach camping, getting sand hurled at you in gail force winds makes you eager to pack up and leave. Fast. So we decided to head to the mountains.
In southern Baja there is a national park called Sierra la Laguna that allows you to explore some of the tropical canyons in the mountains that divide the Pacific and Sea of Cortez coasts. There are even multi day trails where you can hike the entire way over the range ending up near Todo Santos on the west coast of Baja. Sam and I decided after almost six weeks exploring the beaches and deserts of Baja it would be fun to see this last part of Baja before we left.
Sierra la Laguna is near the Tropic of Cancer, and for Baja it felt really lush with palm trees, green vines rapped around the cacti, tall bushes with pink and yellow flowers and more colorful butterflies and birds than I could count.
This park has multiple canyons that you can explore, and Sam and I decided that we would spend our first day at El Chorro because a local in town told us there was a hot springs there. We drove up a long dirt road and finally arrived at El Chorro, paid the 40 pesos entrance fee and went to go luxuriate in the hot springs. When we got there we looked around at a fairly ugly pool of water that was blocked off by an old cement wall and thought “Wait, is this it?” There was one other couple there from Canada who were also looking at the water in dismay.
We decided to jump in the cold creepy pool and see if we could find the “hot” spot. I found an area near the rocks where hot water was indeed bubbling up and the area around it smelled like sulphur. The problem was that to be near the hot spot you had to cling to the slimy green rock, not really the relaxing day in the hot springs we imagined. Also, after watching every episode of River Monsters the murky deep water freaked me out (I kept imagining a eight foot catfish was below me).
We found another very tiny cement looking bathtub near a spring that was coming up from the mountain and felt the water and it was actually hot. The problem was that is was covered in a black slime on the bottom, and the Canadians soon found out that the slime was actually millions of black worms. All I could think was thank God I did not go sit in there!
Since the hot springs were a bust we decided to go for a hike. We put on our Chacos and headed out. About a quarter of a mile in we realized that the “hike” would be wading through the river most of the time on slippery rocks and bush whacking through tropical plants that had thorns over an inch long. This was also a bust, but one thing we are learning is that part of long term travel is that not everyday will be perfect and that when things turn out a little below expectations, you just have to laugh and realize it is all part of the adventure.
The silver lining to all this was we got to camp in the park for the night and we were the only ones there (well except for the moths the size of humming birds that we called Mothras that were throwing themselves against our windows until we were forced to turn off all our lights). We slept like babies in total silence (not even a rouge rooster or dog!) and headed out the next day to explore another canyon hoping that we would not have another “agua not so caliente” experience. And the good news is that we did not.
We took the very rough back roads to the next canyon through the stunning mountains and had a much better day. We found a beautiful waterfall and pool at Sol de Mayo where we swam alone for hours, sunned ourselves on the rocks and talked about how you never know what you will get when you travel. You can get a luke warm, worm filled hot springs, or you can get a tropical oasis all to yourself for the day. The thing is you just have to be brave enough to head out into the unknown to see what the world has to offer. Most of the time it is pretty spectacular.