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BAJA LOST MISSION EXPEDITION 2011 (PART 1)

Discussion in 'Off-Roading & Trails' started by David K, May 12, 2011.

  1. May 12, 2011 at 8:12 AM
    #1
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    This was a 3 day trip into northern Baja California that was inspired by a geologist scanning Google Earth satellite images of an area that an old legend says should be the location of a secret, lost mission known as Santa Isabel.

    The Jesuit missionaries establishing a chain of missions on the Baja California peninsula learned that they had fell out of favor with the king of Spain, in 1767. That all of them were to be removed from California (which was the Baja California peninsula's name originally), taking nothing of value with them.

    The legend says one last mission was secretly built to store the accumulated treasures in a hidden canyon, beyond the final Jesuit mission of Santa Maria de los Angeles. A water source with the name Santa Isabel appears on a Jesuit map dated 1757 near the area of our search and an old story claims the mission is located 12 miles from a spring called Mezquitito (which may have been the Jesuit water hole) between Puertecitos and San Luis Gonzaga Bay, on the east coast of Baja.

    In reality, no mission records mention any such project and the missionaries barely could raise enough food for their native 'slaves' and themselves, let alone mining gold, silver or pearls! Many have searched for Santa Isabel over the past 100 years. We Baja nuts don't need much of a reason to go to Baja, so when this fellow joined our Baja forum with his findings, we happily jumped on the opportunity to go look. His handle is 'elbeau' and he lives in Texas, so he was not able to join us or search himself.

    Besides looking for elbeau's lost mission site, we were in a great part of Baja for geology... near an active soda spring which erupts monthly, making it a rare cold water geyser, called El Volcan. Also near a famous onyx mine (El Marmol) that was active from 1905 to 1958. A new barite mine 'La Olvidada' was 6 miles away.

    So, see all the sites we did a couple of weeks ago... there are many photos, so this will be a 6 part trip report for easy viewing. I hope you enjoy it... There were 3 Tacomas, 1 Dodge, 1 Bronco, 1 Honda XR bike and 8 men who drove nearly 300 miles south of the border, 13 miles off the highway, and 4 miles by foot to the Santa Isabel site.

    Primer: Does everyone know where Arroyo El Volcan is or at least where where El Marmol onyx quarry is?

    El Marmol is 9 miles from Hwy. 1 at Km 148/149 between El Rosario and Cataviña.

    The arroyo is 4 miles from El Marmol and flows to the Gulf of California just south of El Huerfanito. The Mexican topo maps have mis-labled the arroyo as 'Zamora' and called the next arroyo south 'El Volcan'!
    El Volcan is a cold water geyser and an area of soda springs where onyx is slowly being formed. Much onyx is in the area, as well. The geyser is less than a half mile south of the road, in the arroyo. The lost mission site discovered by elbeau is 4 miles to the north.

    Some maps (1962 to 2007):

    ElMarmol1962_a9099bbc15311dfc80a58929d42745f8175e2fa3.jpg

    ElMarmol1974_f111abdf133c2d09dde5a42c0dd3f6bc2516eb82.jpg

    ElVolcan1974_e95d7af8fffc19f59b60268582d81050a2a873c0.jpg

    ElMarmol1975_1c5dea1c9e3d4094f6468cb1d02a6406ffc8b289.jpg

    ElMarmol2003_3a9e7f07d56ee259fdc09bd12d30f42e93a2ab8c.jpg

    ElMarmol2007_ad79320a6533880c64f42d393e192189fe8e34d5.jpg

    PART 1 (Friday April 29)
    My fellow adventure seeker was Baja Nomad member ‘El Vergel’ (Vern) from the Los Angeles area and the beach campo south of San Felipe. ‘Baja Cat’ (José) who waited for us just across the border at Otay Mesa joined and traveled along with us on Friday.
    The drive south was easy and fun.
    Volcan007_eedca1b3fe301a274837146727aefece897dafdb.jpg
    Corredor 2000 zips you around Tijuana to or from Otay or Tecate (Vern Pic)

    We stopped for lunch in San Vicente at a taco cart operated by Gloria, who served us ‘tacos de borrego’ (lamb tacos) along with a cup of consommé de borrego to which we added onions and salsa… YUM

    Volcan2011002_ea37bad7c0f66912b7e31dbebf5a2980970b25bd.jpg
    Volcan2011003_cc9d30a1d0cb13e090daeb49da283d0a6e1abf75.jpg
    Volcan2011004_dde666ad0db1d9fa18dee2225dec13e98f0f9995.jpg

    We arrived in El Rosario about 2:30 to fill our gas tanks and buy a few cases of Tecate and Dos Equis cerveza. I also wanted to show Vern the rooms at Baja Cactus Motel as they are so outstanding given the location and typical highway accommodations usually found in Baja. We also saw Itzel’s mother who reported her daughter as doing fantastic following the heart surgery of several months ago.
    Volcan063_be0820c7f55d55b327b2b9a05aaf25cf864ff180.jpg
    Baja Cactus Pemex (Vern Pic)
    Volcan069_9a4ca85fa6130aebf4ead72fba6b4ae94225f6f1.jpg
    Baja Cactus Motel front desk (Vern Pic)
    Volcan071_6a7a139851cb22a5545cd81a81ecbc9aad054ab0.jpg
    Hugo Lopez art at Baja Cactus (Vern Pic)
    Volcan074_03fc559506681f8461cfc2ee68a4701098728890.jpg
    Baja Cactus room (Vern Pic)
    Fuel prices in Baja (below the border region) were 8.77 pesos per liter for Magna and 9.87 for Premium. The exchange rate at Baja Cactus was 11.20 pesos per dollar and in Ensenada on Sunday was 11.00 pesos per dollar… both close to $3.00 per gallon.
    The 56 mile drive down Highway One to the El Marmol road was a breeze and the signed road was between the 148 and 149 kilometer markers. The next 9 miles to El Marmol are dirt, but some of the easiest dirt miles in Baja and would be a breeze for most vehicles.
    We stopped to take new photographs of the schoolhouse ruins and cemetery before the final leg of today’s drive down to Arroyo el Volcan. I heard the sound of a speeding Toyota Tacoma and it was ‘TW’ (Tom) and his brother Bill arriving from an ice run to Cataviña (20 miles distant). José, Vern and I followed them down to the campsite in Arroyo El Volcan, 4 miles from El Marmol.

    Volcan2011006_b7665ce002b20d4f5cbf01efb5d8e97dc41772d0.jpg
    Volcan2011007_2e5f5c95c72da375434b957a04a4fea486fe297d.jpg
    Volcan2011011_8790d98944a114834b539e1258388b04faef8b66.jpg
    Volcan2011014_b8332336bc96d8799f3f1ba64f9f8e6bd618c78c.jpg
    Volcan2011018_91f31ff510d6e669861798ae7adea66ebdfa656e.jpg
    Volcan2011019_342635daabeb64da5a7c7f5a56bf28abdebfe8d8.jpg
    Volcan2011021_6b2382dbd44ed86eea19ee23e50173fb8137eebf.jpg

    Already there was ‘bajalou’, ‘dtbushpilot’ (David) and ‘XRPhlang’ (Phil) on the sand/gravel arroyo at the base of a giant rock face. That evening was plenty fun discussing just why the hell we all drove hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to be in such a place! It was great!

    Volcan2011027_fca8e89580db33a396ac3f54e455ed05cab41e31.jpg
    Volcan2011032_bace6d57bb2d2e0c33ebc294d02f16719e04312f.jpg
    'bajalou' and 'BAJACAT'
    Volcan2011033_249d531a25d44e4bacabfa01839f13b41d888a71.jpg
    'XRPhlang' (Phil) and 'dtbushpilot' (David)
    Volcan2011034_21d4eba64da5d48d684c9a6ad5b3fa245c89d67b.jpg
    'El Vergel' (Vern), Bill W and 'TW' (Tom)
    Volcan2011035_1cb2192011bcb2089b771d076684d3ca379a249d.jpg

    Saturday, the hike begins!:

    TW made a batch of grits to supplement our morning diet and we secured camp for the day's hike. It looked on the map to be about 3-4 miles down the arroyo to the primary site of elbeau's Santa Isabel (arches, stairways, fountains). I called the location 'site B' on my Google Earth map. Our camp was just a few hundred feet down the wash from the El Marmol-La Olvidada mine road (which was totally graded very recently).
    The last photo posted above in Part 1 was the morning showing our camp.
    Our camp was in the arroyo, on the left of this image:
    campsites_06a5f2d01f7f61c1862f481f4b1667e456be0dfb.jpg
    The site (white tag 'site B') was exactly a 4 mile hike away:
    StaIsabelhike_7c7f280e896722b15b932969498c1aea2fb59b9c.jpg
    We begin the hike:
    Volcan2011037_84c740881ac7652598ed8b995311d7032cddd0e0.jpg
    The arroyo of El Volcan was extremely interesting and is well worth the visit (even without a lost mission)! I will let my photos do most of the story telling...
    Volcan2011038_b9fa845d2ad3041033f49471b0b6770bee2862b0.jpg
    Volcan2011039_7f26d25626ec92bd8d2f6bbb6062cbd54101752b.jpg
    Water in small amounts was near our camp and oozing out of a cliff at the first big bend.
    Volcan2011040_21b5c7a864d3a2abae7636df56445a1775d97906.jpg
    Volcan2011042_624947f13775ca0b1842d28f992b22569d1385fe.jpg
    Volcan2011044_c6825a1d1bb54c890337303adec2807af9edfb91.jpg
    David K, always happy to be in Baja!
    Volcan2011045_be9241ec20c7a06c8ed53a36f6c2d9a621d0ad46.jpg
    Volcan2011046_830161bf14d0a0f7ec3372f6b01ea9e464edad8f.jpg
    Volcan2011047_84eb899d09dc94606c711b5770d43d4d9d83b5e9.jpg
    Volcan2011048_5c4bb603e2c24276e426c113f0d4e7aed5a446fe.jpg
    A piece of onyx trapped in newer rock, along the arroyo.
    Volcan2011049_688db72679d711fe3d8d81096a70ee2696c4da06.jpg
    Volcan2011051_cb8e6e2a5a1dfa438bb0caa42d5e95ddcded1088.jpg
    Volcan2011052_f1fac662c808be69a0fc132e484ab8a524dbd2d5.jpg
    Volcan2011053_ea64e82d81930c3e40cd504ad858e1cbee1da5ba.jpg
    Volcan2011054_a7fe0ccafabc57c87ce5cea25452a3a31bf08d36.jpg
    Volcan2011055_65e98f4be77608331d6b0d9f7276048befa0e21a.jpg


    Why look in Arroyo El Volcan?

    Some believe that the Jesuits used a small clue on their 1757 map by using the name Santa Isabel (if they actually had a secret mission to hide treasures in):

    1757a_8ee6a33b0f18ae09fc15a644f4cbe90c586bd920.jpg

    An English pirates (Cavendish perhaps?) stole a copy and that is how we see an English version:

    CopyofEnglishversion_ae8f4d5717f719ed7e719b5a36d7c24dda3c80e5.jpg

    One story puts the mission 12 miles from the waterhole of Mezquitito...

    Mezquitito-2-1_eb2145b2819680694f3e1d92382c17f233d4503e.jpg

    So, when elbeau searched along this radius, and knowing water was a must... the El Volcan arroyo fit the bill... Nice that it is easy to get to, just 13 graded miles from Hwy. 1:

    AguaDulce-4_643d695a9bd2bd0129bbd24d7fce36632421ec7c.jpg


    To Be Continued!...
     
  2. May 12, 2011 at 8:29 AM
    #2
    TacomaJack09

    TacomaJack09 Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait for the next installment to this adventure! Thank you for sharing!
     
  3. May 12, 2011 at 8:47 AM
    #3
    Zombie Runner

    Zombie Runner Are these black helicopters for me?

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    I always enjoy your baja threads! If I was closer I would join in for sure
     
  4. May 12, 2011 at 9:52 AM
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    Digiratus

    Digiratus Adventurer

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    Fascinating.
     
  5. May 12, 2011 at 10:04 AM
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    TacoIII

    TacoIII Mr. Boombastic

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    super jealous of the wheeling opportunities you have in the southwest
     
  6. May 12, 2011 at 10:21 AM
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    lembowski

    lembowski Well-Known Member

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    Pretty cool! Wish I wasn't such a wuss to cross over the border.
     
  7. May 12, 2011 at 4:42 PM
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    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Best to go in a group with others until you feel as comforatable as you do in any big city... as the only 'nervous' part is Tijuana... and by using the Otay border and Corredor 2000 southbound (or Hwy. 3 and Tecate northbound), you have a very minor amount of city traffic to deal with!:cool:

    I will get Part 2 posted 'muy rapido' amigos!
     
  8. May 12, 2011 at 4:53 PM
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    97yota4wd

    97yota4wd Well-Known Member

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    my grandpa has a house in mexico and his rule is when going to mexico, leave chandler az by 12. when leaving mexico and going to chandler leave by 3pm haha

    looks like fun!!
     
  9. May 12, 2011 at 4:59 PM
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    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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