26° 0' 42.32'' N 111° 20' 51.91'' W

Destination: Log From the Sea of Cortez Baja MX

Aaron McHugh

Sea of Cortez from 20,000 ft. Photo credit: Matt McHugh

At 20,000 feet the ambient light within the aircraft cabin refracted the aqua blue from the Baja’s Sea of Cortez. Islands appear like cookie crumbles soaking in a tall glass of milk bobbing and then disappear from view. Wilderness awaits. Giant mammals swim 5,000 miles from the frigid Alaskan waters to deliver new calfs in safe harbors easing the arrival and genesis of humpback life.

Welcome to Loreto MX one cerveza at a time. My brother and I getting our Baja chill started.

Loreto, MX
Four stray dogs peak a nose of curious anticipation inside our door’s threshold asking, “Do you have something to share.” The cruise ship anchored in the bay is an outline of a boardwalk roller coaster framed by light-bulbs. Locals residents, dogs, and people live at a sauntering pace that puzzles us, gringos. How do they live so lightly?

Cuidad

The “Cuidad” city historical grid of rectangular cobble laden thoroughfares find cover by leafy green canopies stretching to handshake across the “Mercado” market.

Loreto MX Chapel Iglesia

“Iglesia” Church

A spiritual collective raised beyond the 1694 Chapels rafters encased in Jesuit salvation campaigns. From priests to prisoners, the reverb of soulful melody invited our spirits. The man with outstretched surrender frozen on the old mission’s step. Was he not entering for pause, respect, and timing of the ritual’s cadence?

Or was he struck-in worship-content to remain an observer-participating but not immersed? The “Iglesia” church was brimming with locals hand in hand-clasped one finger over the next, agreeing in song. We crossed the chapel doorway to join the prayerful surrender chorus.

Gray Whales on Magdelen Bay

Magdalen Bay Gray Whales

Yesterday we drove to the Magdalen Bay to scout gray whales and their newborn calves. Success. Dozens of whales- enormous and intimate. Watching mom and calf in sync wondering if their heart rate is synchronized-beat-beat-beat. The Mexican scouts were gracious and respectful of the ancient ones giving them room and space. Last night we were in a tent on the beach across the bay from Isla Del Carmen National Marine Park.

Stuck on the beach across from Isla Del Carmen National Park. Weather keeping us from paddling for two-days. Photo credit: Matt McHugh

Weather dampens adventure

Twenty miles from Loreto. Rain and the wind. Private guide next time. Group travel is too slow for our taste. Food-amazing. Guides gracious. Paddled around little blurbs of water-low adventure. Still, can hear the highway.

Camp one beach launch Baja MX

Adventure Began today

We left behind the car camping beach of two nights and paddled south. Crusty, sandy, sun, rain while living outside. Awake by the natural rhythm of the sun and dark of night. Can no longer hear the downshift reverb of semi-trucks descending the canyon interstate, now only waves. God, my soul, knows you. My listening sextant finds you like a bearing on the horizon.

Camp two-Baja Sea of Cortez experimenting with our Baja Midnight recipe. Photo credit: Matt McHugh

Forgetting what day it is

Found hermit crab wrapped inside a polished shell. Fun to care about simple things. My brother rolled his kayak yesterday, rescued by David our Mexican guide. Today we hiked and found a sandstone arch above an abandoned ranch along the burro trail. Old Winnebago parked with a lean-to sun porch.

Forgetting what day it is on the Sea of Cortez taken at sunset from above our camp.

Three nights on peninsula

Hikes, big sea paddle to hot springs. Twelve people, three guides. Mike from the bay area knows Rolf Potts. We name our nightly tequila and fresh limes “Baja midnight.”

Rancho San Cosme Sea of Cortez Baja MX. Family owned and run. Incredibly friendly. It was our take out point to return to Loreto.

The Ranch

We pulled out yesterday at The Ranch. Goats, cinder block houses, a toilet that flushed with a pale of water. Fresh fish-trigger fish taco lunch. Charro our guide very intentionally arranged with the ranch owner family to use the local economy for our resources. Fruits, papaya, cabbage, eggs, limes.

Back on land

Oasis Hotel-great simple accommodations.


This post was taken from my field journal during our sea kayaking trip on the Sea of Cortez. We used Paddling South-Sea Trek guide service $1,400 for six nights, seven days. Fly into Loreto, MX on Alaska Air.

Next time

Next time we won’t go with a big group. The Sea of Cortez is very accessible for moderately experienced sea kayakers. Bring more fresh limes and tequila. Stay a few nights on Isla Del Carmen island.

Baja Midnight happy hour point.
Guides preparing dinner during a wind and rain storm. The Baja sees about twelve days a year of wet weather. We were there for four of them.
Paddling South course map
Mango Tango was the name of our orange tandem sea kayak. Most of the other group members were in singles.
Sunset on the Sea of Cortez was a light show every evening. Photo credit: Matt McHugh
Rugged, prickly, untamned beauty.