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Plan a trip staged in Catavina

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Bret had a great trip report earlier in the year where he concluded you could make a great trip staging at Catavina and do day trips right out of the hotel.

I've told the other guys that there is so much good riding right out of the hotel at Catavina that you could just drive there and do about 5-6 great day rides (including an overnighter to LA Bay) in every direction and return back at the end of the day for some more great food. This way, there is no chase needed and no lugging heavy backpacks, just leave it all in the room.

http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showpost.php?p=9986133&postcount=22

I've been down to Cocos and think this is a great idea. Let's share some info for such a trip.

Questions:

  • Is vendor fuel in Catavina "reliable"? Where else is fuel often found?
  • What's the deal with the "protected areas" around there? Translated "Valley of candles"?
  • Is there a passable route to get down from the mission to Gonzaga Bay?
  • Is the Desert Inn the place to stay? (what of parking, security, etc) What is their contact info ? rates?
  • Who's got GPS data for trails in the area?

Maybe in the spring of 2012...

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Bret had a great trip report earlier in the year where he concluded you could make a great trip staging at Catavina and do day trips right out of the hotel.

I've told the other guys that there is so much good riding right out of the hotel at Catavina that you could just drive there and do about 5-6 great day rides (including an overnighter to LA Bay) in every direction and return back at the end of the day for some more great food. This way, there is no chase needed and no lugging heavy backpacks, just leave it all in the room.

http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showpost.php?p=9986133&postcount=22

I've been down to Cocos and think this is a great idea. Let's share some info for such a trip.

Questions:

  • Is vendor fuel in Catavina "reliable"? Where else is fuel often found?
  • What's the deal with the "protected areas" around there? Translated "Valley of candles"?
  • Is there a passable route to get down from the mission to Gonzaga Bay?
  • Is the Desert Inn the place to stay? (what of parking, security, etc) What is their contact info ? rates?
  • Who's got GPS data for trails in the area?

Maybe in the spring of 2012...

Funny that you mention this. 8 of us are leaving next thursday for exactly this trip. I would have to say that Catavina is plenty reliable for gas (drums only). Last time there were competing vendors across the street from each other. It's a good gig for anyone buying gas down there and then staging in some of those remote areas (between El Rosario and G. Negro) and easily making a nice profit so I don't think those type of vendors are going away any time soon.

I wish I could help you with the protected areas, but I really don't know. I think there is actually a very large area out there on both sides of he highway that is a preserve of some kind, but have never heard that you cannot pass through it. Bajaboundmoto could probably give you info on what you can and cannot do there. My guess is that it means no blazing your own trails through it, but I'm really not sure.

I have never been to the mission, but have heard from reliable sources that it is not doable to get through that to Gonzaga. The thing to do would be to explore it from the east and go upstream through the wash to see what you're up against. Someone will probably do it one of these days (going west to east only) by lowering bikes down with straps and a lot of muscle work through boulder fields, but at that point your getting farther and farther away from what you came there to do, which is ride.

The Desert Inn is one of only a couple places to stay there. There is also Linda's Cabanas across the street somewhere (pink or purple building). Have not stayed at Linda's, but it is certainly much cheaper and maybe all you need. We're doing the Desert Inn again, but another guy made our reservations and I don't believe it is called that anymore. Seems like they have had about 3 or 4 different names over the last 10 years or so. The rate is $90 now I'm pretty sure, which is quite expensive to me. A year ago it was $75 and not exactly like the economy has gotten any better. Maybe for the extra $15 they will heat the pool this time, but I don't care I jump in just the same. Honestly, there is no one down there. I think when we were there last November we had the whole hotel to ourselves with the exception of maybe two other couples and a certain 1X rider that had not planned on being there. Security is good, they let you roll your bike into the courtyard from the side gate. I want to add though that some people feel it is ok to ride your bike into the courtyard when you come back from a ride. If you stay there, do everyone a favor and shut it down outside the gate and push it in else they won't be so kind to us in the future. As I mentioned before, the food is very good, but you pay for it.

** Next response is (hopefully) as careful and diplomatic as I can make it**

As to gps data, there are tons of people that have it, but few that will give it away. I personally do not own a single track of any trail down there, nor do I record tracks for any trail that I have ridden. I have only drawn routes to places I want to go based on visible routes I can see in satellite photos and then load it up in a gps. This is hit or miss and you have to be able to fall back quickly to a plan "B" if it doesn't pan out. Not surprisingly, there are more animal trails out there than singletrack and it's real important to know how to tell them apart. Not that you can't ride an animal trail, but they tend to split off and rejoin and also basically evaporate completely. For that reason alone, I could not in a clear conscience give any of what I have out unless I was there to make it right after a potential bad decision. And that would not be your bad decision, but rather mine. Let me give you an example. Last time, I made a route that basically put us into a wash heading upstream, not terribly far from Catavina. When we got there, it was just absolutely choked with vegetation. I knew there was a 2-track that started almost out of nothing about 3 miles up the wash. It was doable, but we really did not know how ugly it was going to get before we found the 2-track. One of the guys in the group says, "There is a good 2-track right here if we go straight, but your route goes to the right". As I looked to the right into the wall of bushes, I said "we're going straight". It was far too late in the day for experimenting and we were too close to hoisting margaritas. Had it been earlier, we would have been much more open to exploring. Anything I have done down there is splitting off of known 2-track to check out more appealing looking trails that run in the direction and through the area that I want to go. I have to know that it will eventually connect to something solid or that I will not have gas issues if we have to turn back. For that reason, the route is fluid and always subject to changes based on the situation and energy level. I have found my share of the good stuff down there without ever being given a track or waypoint. It was the result of many hours squinting and staring at a screen. I have a trashed pair of 47 year old eye balls to show for it. Out of respect to those that put in the hard work to make it, I also have the burden of being a good steward to their work. I truely feel like I'm a guest, regardless of how I came upon finding the trails. I really hope you (and others) can understand. It's like being invited by a friend to go somewhere and then inviting one of your own friends to come along.

The day I build my own magical section of a 30-mile winding thread through the desert, I will have no problem giving up the info. I won't have anyone to answer to at that point. You have lots of time, just go and do a little ground work before you go. You can't help but have a great time no matter what you do down there. You will find some stuff before you go and will also stumble upon some stuff that you did not expect to. And finding it is way more rewarding. Sorry for the disertation, I just have mixed feelings on all this gps stuff.

Edited by OUTERLIMITS

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Experience level of all riders is a strong consideration when asking for routes.

IMO - considering what there is around Catavina & the time it takes to drive there (drive down Hwy1 sucks) you'd be better served to drive to Felipe and do a loop south from there. 1 day to Gonzaga, 1 up to Catavina, maybe a day loop in the area, a day to Bay of LA visiting San Borja, a day return to SF.

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I almost beat Teem to it on this post yesterday but.....

Tim is the smartest man on the peninsula or top 5 at the very least, I would listen clearly to what he says.

Based on your post you are asking some basic and some dangerous questions (gps files in the wrong hands are a bad idea).

The Catavinia area is beautiful but also rugged, remote and without any communication. This is the area I call the never never. Sat phones are the only real means of communications and some of what you are talking about can be fairly treacherous if you have never ridden it.

Three of the key trails in this area are subject to violent changes due to weather and water and 1 I know for sure I was taken on by the creator and then came back twice with no issues then came back and really needed my GPS to make sure I was in the same place. Yes I have a GPS as I am not as gnarly as Tim, Jesse or Jimmy (never met the man but have LOTS of respect).

The area also has some radical weather and changes that come up quick. All of this amounts to trails that can be easy to see and then disappear for long distances at a time.

I'm not trying to be a bah humbug but want you to understand that this is no small task or place for those not prepared.

As mentioned earlier you need to respect what has been put in by some real bad asses. I have tried to participate and do work along the way. I will fix on their trails and have helped to build some but people like Bill Nicoll, Tim Morton and Jimmy S. need to be heralded for their epic work in opening up the Baja and giving us all some fun trails to ride.

Generally you need to know someone and earn their trust and their belief that you are ready before you ask for such GPS files. I simply don't share, ever.

Have fun and be safe.

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The Catavinia area is beautiful but also rugged, remote and without any communication. This is the area I call the never never. Sat phones are the only real means of communications and some of what you are talking about can be fairly treacherous if you have never ridden it.

Agree, and that's one of the problems with the Catavina area. There are lots of places to explore, but most of them are very remote. The remoteness definitely freaks me out a little. I still can't believe how remote some of the 2-track is and that there are people that still drive that stuff.

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Many excellent comments reflecting years of Baja wisdom! Certainly consider the cost before setting out in such an area...

What are the mapped dirt roads like heading to the Pacific?

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Many excellent comments reflecting years of Baja wisdom! Certainly consider the cost before setting out in such an area...

What are the mapped dirt roads like heading to the Pacific?

I have not gone to the pacific via the roads near Catavina, but look to explore some of that this week. The only one I can comment on is the first major dirt road that is north of the LA Bay turnoff and it is very scenic. It gives you a little of everything starting out as a fairly smooth and sandy, winding through a beautiful cactus area (might be part of the preserve), gradually turning a little more rocky with a nice decent into a canyon and later a couple of relatively short silt beds before you hit the water. At this point you have traveled about 40 some odd miles from your gas stop at the turnoff just to get to the water. Hopefully someone will correct me, but I want to say that there is zero probability of finding fuel at any ranch or fish camp between this point and the route back to Catavina no matter which way you go. There are many different ways to get back to Catavina from here and most probably take the coast route. We jumped off the coast after only a couple of miles through a very faint 2-track through a marshy area at the back of a beach. The purpose was to get away from the more travelled routes and into something more remote (I mean more fun). This route looked like it had not been used by anyone in a very long time and parts of it no longer looked accessible by a 4-wheeler (due to overgrowth). There was nothing difficult about it really, a couple rocky climbs, but otherwise fairly fast. What makes it a little hairy to me is that you are alone. Not just isolated, but ALONE ALONE. We had a KTM show initial signs of a sick Rekluse here and I'm not sure what we would have done if it gave up the ghost out there. Along the coast might have been smarter, but I would do this 115 mile leg again in a heartbeat.

You did not mention the experience level of the people in your group or if you have chase.

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Brett,

I'll be anxious to hear your report. We'd take chase if needed.

My typical group are middle-aged long term riders and Mexico vets... a big tank crowd. Mechanics, Baja500 vets, endurance racers, a Mexico resident, and a couple of their teenagers.

I appreciate the point - one really bad thing and you'd seriously wish you never went...

We got caught on a deadend beach of grapefruit size wet rocks and kelp with rising tide and a setting sun and overheating motors a few years ago and I remember the feeling well - if she dies here she'll be buried here - there'd be no getting her out.

#1 be safe, #2 have fun.

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Trooper8, your group sounds similar to ours with the exception of the teenagers. I would not venture too far from the highway at all with teens. As Cameron mentioned, there are places where it gets overly rugged before you know it. It's real tough to gauge with kids what their energy and enthusiasm level is. They will tend to say what they think you want to hear , like "let's keep going", when it should be "let's turn back". I'm not among the strongest riders in our group, but I know my limitations of what I will and won't do especially as it comes to speed. If it means taking it down a couple of clicks to keep from having a yard sale out in BFE then that's what needs to be done. Kids sometimes have too much pride and pride has no place in Mexico.

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All good points, this may not be the ideal area for teens as you pointed out.

I'll still be interested in hearing of your adventures there. I'm going to be heading to Mulege in Jan (non-riding) and maybe scope it out further at that time.

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Brett,

You mentioned in one of your posts that you rode down there with a SPOT. What would happen if you activated it on a trail outside Catavina? My buddy rides with one and I've always wondered? Thanks.

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I don't own one personally, but one of the guys in the group has one. He only uses it for emergency obviously, but also just to send a quick ok message to our families at the end of each day. Not sure if his is a regular spot or one of the newer models, but he has it set up so it will send messages directly to certain emails at home.

As far as activating it, I guess I hope we never have to, but the hope is obviously that someone is at least looking for us.

We're off in the am, hoping to explore some different stuff (along with some of the same) and be back on Tues. We have more possible directions and routes than we have time for, but it's good to have some choices and backup plans.

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