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Packing Bags and Taking Names

At 5 AM the alarm sounded and I should have been tired if not for being so excited about meeting the new faces for the first time again and finally getting the adventure under way. Matt Frick, Camp4Lo’s owner and Andy Holmes, a 4Lo vet turned associate in crime, were first up. New faces for this trip included Matt’s friend Shawn Britton, who was down from Canada, capitalizing on a strong exchange rate between the beaver pelt and the US dollar, Stuart Bourdon, the Tech Editor of JP Magazine, and just rolling into the lot, the trips mystery guests, @thejeepcalledyeti and @thewildyolo, or as they introduced themselves, Yeti and Yolo. 

We somehow managed to shoehorn everyone’s gear into my truck, along with coolers, tools, cooking and camp gear and my poor bike was evicted to the roof for the remainder of the trip. We headed to one of the few operational store fronts in Calexico to grab some donuts and what tasted like day old coffee, made more tolerable by something called “milk syrup” and then crossed into Mexico. After a few hours, a gas stop, a few packages of sponch (Mexican Candy) and a few U-turns, we finally hit dirt and headed for the Pole Line Road. 

Last stop on pavement and time to stock up on sponch.

The fun part about Baja is that you often have to take long dirt roads to get to the long dirt roads. Our path would take a moderately groomed dirt route through farms and what looked like hopeful ranch properties, before crossing over one of the outer fingers of the Baja 1000 route, where larger companies had already began staking out pit space. We watched a few late UTVs prerunning as we lowered our tire pressure and carefully made our way a few miles down a deep sand wash, which also happened to be part of the course, as many of the local roads are, so we were sure to keep an eye out for any dust clouds rapidly creeping up behind us. After heavy rains in the area a few weeks prior, many of the roads and road markers had been washed out, so we spent the first half the day connecting waypoints on the GPS. Once we were sure we were officially on the road, we headed west, found the first pole of the road and took a few group shots. While the hills were spotted with shallow caves I was dying to explore, we had a lot of ground to cover before dark. Excited for what the coming hours would bring, it only took us five minutes before we were staring off the edge of a deep wash where the road used to be. There was no question it would be impassable without days of work to try and build a ramp up the twelve foot face, and even then the next thirty feet of hillside was unstable and badly undercut where the road briefly traversed, so we would have to find a work around.

Connecting miles of washed out dirt roads in search of our dirt road, the Pole Line Road.

After scouting out the accessible stretch of the wash face, we decided the best bet would be to backtrack and loop around to see if we couldn’t reconnect with the wash further down and come back up. Several hours of combing the satellite imagery and countless smaller washes that tracked back in the general direction of the Pole Line Road with no luck, we decided if we were quick we could head back to the Pole where this adventure began and camp for the night, regroup and formulate a plan for the following day.  We chugged through sand washes and over rocks for another hour or so before ending up right where we started with only about an hour of dusk light to get settled in. We set up camp and I ran off to explore the caves I noted in the morning; a small consolation to the days other speed bumps.

Back at Pole #1, the Pole Line Road may have shut us down, but the view above camp made up for it.

Fortunately the group was thick skinned and easy going and even with all the heckling that had gone on, on many different levels, we all had a good laugh over evening coffee, guacamole, carne asada and roasted jalapenos. A looming storm offered up an amazing sunset and we decided around the campfire that we would head back over to the racecourse, link up with pavement and hopscotch ahead to pick up with the scheduled route at first light. Coffee and beer had the group up well into the night where we watched the full moon finally rise and saw the fire down to embers before finally calling it a day.

Yeti and Yolo taking in the sunset high above their camp, used to the camp life, because it is how they live every the grid.

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