In the winter of 2014 I went to Baja to paddle the Sea of Cortez coastline.
The trip would see me hitch hiking and jumping on buses between towns, meeting interesting people along the way. And finally paddling 300 miles from Santa Rosalia to La Paz.
Though I had paddled the entire 1,000-mile coast twice before, both times solo, that was in a sea kayak. With this trip I wanted something different. I wanted to do it on a board.
So I rolled up my inflatable SUP, packed it in a dry-bag and flew south.
DUFFLE BAG PADDLE BOARDING
With an inflatable board and the willingness to travel with a light weight mindset, SUP can take from the best of backpacking and sea kayak touring.
Paddling with a backpacker’s perspective, the essentials can be made simple.
On land, the board is rolled in the bag for hauling around with all other gear. It will not be ultra-light, but it’s much more basic than other water sports.
Fly with your gear to a remote coast. Hitch rides. Take buses. Hike. Once on the sea, tether the pack (dry bag) to the deck and walk on water.
I have hiked into the mountains. I have gone down river on multi-day whitewater trips with my paddle board.
And have paddled several hundred miles on the Sea of Cortez. My gear is becoming lighter and more important, more essential. Still, people tell me they would feel better with more gear, more stuff. I always respond, “why?”
One of the great things about inflatable paddle board trips is the relative ease of travel. Roll the board up and go.
A gritty place. A mining town. The northern most town in Baja Sur and the first where trans-peninsular HW 1 meets the Sea. I
It’s where I begin my paddle descent. Crooked streets, broken streets, graffiti, dirt, pavement. If the marina is not the filthiest in Baja, I don’t want to know which is.
Harbor rats (Sea Gulls) and pelicans overpopulate, stumbling all over each other to binge on the guts and carcasses fishermen dumb. Garbage and dead things. Some people really love Santa Rosalia, its grit. It does have character. It’s good to have Santa Rosalia in the rear view.
Frantic, congested, colorful, gregarious, chaotic, Catholic, optimistic. A sunset beach kind of Mexican town. The Capital of Baja. It's a stay-a-while town and dance to a different rhythm. I really dig La Paz, don’t know why.
Port city with a Jesuit history. Loreto is the gateway to a maritime playground for fishing and paddling and island hopping guided trips.
There is leisure here. A golf course resplendent gringo resort.
A remains a quiet town, minus the dogs barking and roosters crowing. “What happens in Loreto, stays in Loreto,” the owner of Coyote Village Bed & Breakfast tells me, “because nothing happens in Loreto.”
Oasis town. A river runs through it. A shallow, slow moving, tidal river lined by mangroves and a neighborhood of North American owned homes in the flood plain. Supply town for the RVers and sailboat cruisers who habitat the protected coves of Conception Bay, just south of Mulege.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO
At the bottom of Baja is Cabo. Most people seem to know Baja as Cabo, parties, resorts, Tequila, and pharmacies on every corner selling Viagra. Locals remain as friendly and gregarious as in other parts of Baja, and a tiny sense of Baja time exists here. But for me, Cabo is about the departure.
Each time I travel to Cabo it is to access other places, go deeper into the peninsula, or fly back home.