The adventure begins!
Sitting inside an internet cafe in La Paz I can attribute that the terrain is not the only thing remote in Baja. My expectation to post daily quickly changed as soon as we traveled past Tecate. The internet connections are sparse and slow, as is the culture on this wonderful peninsula.
As soon as the race started it was an adventure, but in a way no one wanted. Los Angeles traffic was HELL, and trying to work our way to the border was less than thrilling. Bumper to bumper on an 8 lane highway all the way through San Diego was a good test of patience, and luckily we were all still amped on coffee after the 5am start.
Around 10:30am we entered into Mexico through the Tecate border crossing. Getting our vehicles across the border was easy, it was gaining our official passport stamp was not. The process was less than inefficient, it made absolutely no sense. By the time we figured it out, a giant tour bus arrived and we found ourselves in a line about 30 people long. The process in total took 4 hours, and finally around 2pm we headed south to Mike’s Sky Ranch. The late night arrival made us all rush dinner, so we could get some rest before the 6am briefing.
Getting the sand out of our eyes, the briefing was short and soon lead us up a ridgeline to some really difficult terrain. We watched in one section as many of the race vehicles got stuck on the large rock ledges and boulders. Once it was our turn almost everyone made it through cleanly. Our only issue was one of the trucks caught a rock with the rear diff, and while we thought winching was inevitable, with good driving the truck backed off the rock and made a stunning climb to the top. PHEW!!
The remaining off-road section was quite intense, but we took our time and made it through with no problems. Soon we hit a sealed road which took us south east towards the Pacific coast. Stopping at La Lobera, which is a massive hole in the beach, we enjoyed the solitude of the coast, sleepy sea lions, and an amazing sunset.
A few kilometers south was Catavina, where we found the race camp and settled in for a 5am briefing meeting the next morning.
The longest day of the rally, we started before sunrise and headed for a long run down a sandy road that followed the pacific. The scenery was epic, and the road was tricky. Lots of unexpected holes, washouts, and forks in the road kept us on our toes. Navigating this day was not easy, and we had to back track a few times to get on the correct route.
Leaving the long trek down the coast we came into some sand dunes. Airing our tires down we headed into the dunes to find some of the race waypoints. Many a competitor got stuck in these silty dunes, and we even had to recover one of our ECs who found a really soft area and sunk the truck to the chassis. However, only using maxtrax we quickly recovered it and were on our way again.
Back on paved road it was getting late and we decided to get dinner in San Ignacio. This is a fabulous oasis town in the middle of a cactus forest. Making our way to the town square we found places to park our trucks and were welcomed to quite the mexican feast. Enjoying fish tacos, enchiladas, and great tequila we were invited to camp at the square that night… and we didn’t pass this opportunity up.
So far the rally has exceeded expectations with long-distance driving, beauty, and challenging terrain. I can’t say anyone is well rested, but each new location we find we soon forget about being tired.
Until our next post, which might not happen until we’re back stateside, enjoy some pictures we will have uploaded to facebook and instagram.