River Kayaking In Baja

At certain times of the year it is possible
BY: PETE MOSS

Scratching thorough reeds so thick I couldn’t see more than 10 feet ahead, we crawled through the flooded river bottom.  I had planned on riding the rapids high above this mess, but so much for scouting the river before you run it.  My son happily navigated from the front of the two person kayak, letting me know which way looked less impossible than the other.  After partially dismantling a barbed wire fence (sorry rancher!) we finally pushed through to a small pond, which led to another reeded area with a bigger pond after that. The ponds grew longer and the water started flowing again until we emerged back into a beautifully formed river complete with sandy banks and waterfowl.  We were in northern Baja during the winter, on what I’ll call the Rio de la Mision. 

River kayaking in Baja. It seems improbable but a friend of mine from Colorado had recently drawn me a vivid vocal picture of what he thought the landscape must be like in our part of the world.  Flat, sandy stretches of sand interspersed with cactus and far off mud hills filled with snakes and lizards.  This landscape isn’t far different from some parts of Baja, but northern coastal Baja is nothing like that. 

We enjoy rocky mountain vistas broken by flowing valleys, grandly draining the tilted mountain chain to our east.  From our house near the beach I saw snow on some of the far off peaks a few times this winter.  Our beaches are open and windswept, with the cliffs eroding in a slow natural way into the sea to fill in the beach sand that gets swept away every winter.

 Take any dirt road into the hills and you’ll find a winding path to the ranch of your childhood, (real or imagined).  When the rains come, there are no dams to hold back the fury of the floods, and the water rushes down the mountains to the ocean the same way it has for millions of years, washing away the dust and bringing in the new hope of spring.  Blooms of green and wildflowers fill the hillsides and make the land look like pictures I’ve seen of Ireland. The best view of this is from outside at Raul’s surf spot. 

So it is possible to river kayak in Baja.  The short trip we took last week was challenging and it felt like we were river pioneers.  It’s exactly that feeling that kept me coming back to Baja until I finally made it my home. 

Please enjoy all that this peninsula has to offer.  Treat her people fairly and they will return your kindness tenfold.  Remember, you are living in the land of adventure, so get out there!