Quest for the Valley of the Palms, April 1st to 15th 2006.

In 2003 Patrick Pruit and I paddled around Isla Angel de la Guarda in the Gulfo de California. After I came back from this trip, several people asked me if I had stopped at “The Valley of the Palms”. I had been told that there was no water on the island, but desert palm trees usually mean that there is water. I started fantasizing about paddling out to this valley, finding water and being able to live there for a few weeks. It would be fun to come back and say that I had lived on a desert island in an oasis under a grove of palm trees. In 2004 while on my way to paddle across the Gulfo de California and back again, I ran into Ed Gelette on the beach in Bahia de los Angeles. Ed is an experienced kayak guide who has taken many groups around Isla Angel de la Guarda, so I asked him if he knew about the Valley of the Palms. It turns out he had retired from guiding, but he was in Baja to paddle out to that very valley. He gave me vague directions on where to find it and mentioned that this valley was full of really fat rattlesnakes. He held up his hands to loop his fingers into a four inch diameter circle. My reaction was to laugh and say “What more could a man want? Water AND protein!” This in turn made Fred Cooper (who was there to talk to Ed) start referring to it as “Viper Valley”.

I had resolved not to go to the Gulfo de California (Sea of Cortez) in the spring any more because of all the nesting birds and the bugs that live off them. But other things kept coming up in the fall and it started to look like I would never be able to fit another trip to Angel de la Guarda into my schedule. So before it passed me by, I decided to do the Palm Quest trip this spring.

As usual, I invited a large number of people to join me and many of them were interested but as the date approached more and more people dropped out. In the end only five of us went on this trip, which is a pretty good number. We all met at Doug Hamilton’s house south of San Jose on the Friday before the trip. This got us past all the Bay Area traffic for an early start on Saturday morning. We had good luck with the traffic in Los Angeles and made it to the Mexican Border at Tijuana by 4:00 PM. We got our tourist cards and kept driving into the evening, arriving at our favorite hotel in Encenada before full dark. We even had time to go shopping at the Gigante Super Mercado and buy all our fresh groceries for the trip.

The next day we got up early and started the long drive down the trans peninsular highway. Starting in Encenada made it pretty easy to get to Bahia de los Angeles before dark, even with a stop at the Shrine of the Virgin to bless our bowsprits. We had no trouble getting a room in a hotel and a fish dinner.

All text and images Copyright © 2006 by Mike Higgins / contact