Baja, Isla Angel de la Guarda, April 11th to 24th 2003.

One of the Holy Grails of expedition kayaking is to paddle around Isla Angel de la Guarda in the Sea of Cortez. When you go to Bahia de los Angeles in Baja and look across the sea there is a range of mountains extending as far as you can see north and south. It is common for people to ask “Is that the mainland?” No, that is Guardian Angel Island. I have paddled the shore of Baja on three different occasions and for most of those trips this large island had been visible, if not filling up the horizon. It is remote and difficult to get to so of course I wanted to go there.

In 2002 I started telling friends that I was going to do this island in April of 2003 and inviting them to join me. At one time there were a dozen people interested in going. Roger Lamb was especially glad that I gave him almost a year’s warning. He says that he likes to plan things like this in advance. I found all the necessary maps, designed a float plan, picked dates that coincided with Konstantin Gortinsky’s spring break. Actually 12 people is a large group to take on a trip like this and I kind of hoped that some of them would cancel before the date. Be careful what you wish for goes the old saying and I almost ended up going on the trip alone. Only one kayaker, Patrick Pruitt, did not cancel. So the trip ended up being just the two of us.

We took two days to drive down, one day to drive to San Diego and a second day to drive to Bahia de los Angeles (also known as LA Bay). Many people claim that it takes two days to drive across Baja to LA Bay, but I have found it easy to do in one day, especially if you get up early in the morning. We drove through a morning rush-hour traffic jamb in Tijuana and finally got onto the toll road heading south down the coast. There in the early light of dawn I made a wrong turn and ended up in a suburb of Tijuana trying to find my way back onto the pay road. A Tijuana cop pulled us over and claimed that I had failed to stop at one of the 100 stop signs we had just stopped at. I insisted this was not possible and badgered him with directions for getting back on the road. I have had to play this game that the Tijuana cops use to pry big "fines" out of visiting tourists. This is one of the reasons I hate Tijuana so much. But to our surprise this cop gave in, issued us a warning and gave us directions back to the road. Patrick commented “We’ve only been in Baja for an hour and already Mike is in trouble with the authority figures”.

The rest of our trip across Baja was uneventful. We stopped in Encinada to buy supplies at Gigante Super Mercado , the largest supermarket in Baja. We stopped for lunch at Mama Espinoza’s in El Rosario. We stopped to pay our respects at the Shrine of the Virgin and get our cheep plastic virgins blessed. (I was carrying small statues of The Virgin to mount on the bows of our boats). We made it to LA Bay in plenty of time for a nice dinner at Guillermo’s Restaurant and Motel while watching a beautiful sunset.

All text and images Copyright © 2003 by Mike Higgins / contact