Across to Tecate

Tecate Travel Blog

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Our friend Melisa cooks breakfast in the trailer part of the hut
In the morning after some breakfast, the road trip phase began.  A few years ago we bought the company trucks for a hundred dollars when they wore out, so we have big rusting hulks to drive in Baja.  Rolf knew about a secret waterfall sort of part way between Ensenada and Tecate, behind some vineyards, across some ranches, down a road, across a bunch of creeks, then on foot down a trail, up another creek for a ways.... 


Th road to Ensenada clings to the cliffs far above crashing surf hundreds of feet below.  You have an unrestricted view of the Pacific from the passenger's side.  The numerous holes in the guard rail decorated with with shrines are crosses where people have gone over keep you're eyes on the road through.  Offshore you see urchin divers and fish pens.
The road's closer to the cliffs than in the US, which is cool
  From Ensenada, a small road turns inland across the rolling hills and canyons of the interior.  This is what California would have looked like hundreds of years ago.  Unlike the coast, you can look to horizon and see nothing but sage scrub and lines of willows and cottonwoods along the creeks.  Scattered ranches turn up in some of the valleys, and scraggly range cattle wander across the roads.  Vaqueros (cowboys) are herding cattle in white hats and leather chaps.  Burros and goats watch you from corrals.

At the Guadeloupe Valley, sure enough, after crossing the requisite number of vineyards and ranches, paying an old lady a dollar to pass through a gate, and floating the trucks across a few creeks, we came to a cluster of assorted trucks of every vintage, big sedans (don't want to know how they made it in.
On the road to the secret falls
..) and the ever present 70's vans, we continued on foot. 


It was Sunday afternoon and parade of local ranchers and their families were heading up to the falls dragging big piles of picnic equipment, children in tow.  The narrow trail alternates between chaparral and the creekbed which was flooded at the time, which was nice, walking in the cool water in the midday heat.    The surrounding hills were painted with the colors of the wildflowers -purple Dicholostemma, yellow Lasthenia, pink Castilleja- I don't mean some scattered flowers; whole yellow or purple hillsides!


Little hibachis were smoking everywhere cooking carne asada, corn, carnitas, tortillas in the shade of the cliffs.  The falls were a lot higher than we were expecting!  A creek crosses the red rock mesa above then plunges down the cliff carved by larger creek below.
Dry scrub opens into the green vineyards and olive groves in the Guadelupe Valley
  Not having brought a picnic ourselves, we continued upstream there were geothermal hotsprings- not murky, stinky, sulfurous pools; but hot water boiling up through clean white sand in the creek bottom.  The water bubbles up at a bunch of different places so there wasn't a crowd. 


It's only an hour and a half drive back to San Diego from this far away place, or it would be without  the 3-hour wait at the border, courtesy of Homeland Security.  On the way back we of course stopped by Tecate for tacos and a visit to the Tecate brewery and the coveted tiny sample cup of beer straight from the tanks.  The whole trip lasted less than 24 hours, but really didn't feel different than a week-long trip, except that you're still refreshed when you get back, no jet-lag, and it cost just a tank of gas.
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Our friend Melisa cooks breakfast …
Our friend Melisa cooks breakfast…
The roads closer to the cliffs th…
The road's closer to the cliffs t…
On the road to the secret falls
On the road to the secret falls
Dry scrub opens into the green vin…
Dry scrub opens into the green vi…
Racing Rolfs matching rusting whi…
Racing Rolf's matching rusting wh…
The dusty road across the Vineyards
The dusty road across the Vineyards
Hills are golden with yellow Lasth…
Hills are golden with yellow Last…
A typical sight in spring, pushing…
A typical sight in spring, pushin…
crossing a more pleasant creek
crossing a more pleasant creek
...wading a couple miles up a clea…
...wading a couple miles up a cle…
Cold water felt good on dry feet
Cold water felt good on dry feet
Locals make good use of a stick to…
Locals make good use of a stick t…
All the ranchers in the area were …
All the ranchers in the area were…
A clear, hot geothermal spring far…
A clear, hot geothermal spring fa…
Back at the border in Tecate, Rolf…
Back at the border in Tecate, Rol…
185 km (115 miles) traveled
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photo by: diisha392