Up in the Sierra de la Gigantica west of Puerto Escondido on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja California Sur, lies a steep canyon filled with huge boulders, pools of water, palm trees and wild geology. John Steinbeck explored this oasis in 1940, with Ed Ricketts, the biologist from Monterey, CA, three wealthy Mexicans, and two native guides. I read about this canyon in The Log From the Sea of Cortez, and in the Sea of Cortez cruising guide, and knew we had to go explore this place if at all possible.
One day last May we began our hike up Canyon de Tabor (it’s other name) on a day of shimmering heat. After hiking and wading, and finding our way past boulder-choked obstructions, we came to a seemingly impossible stack of gigantic boulders in a narrow part of the canyon. Looking up, we spotted John, a fellow hiker, already on top.
We used his shouted instructions and squeezed beneath a boulder, used a knotted rope to help us up the steep chimney, stepped onto a branch wedged between the wall and boulder, and shimmied over a protruding rock to gain the last obstacle, a tree trunk wedged as a ladder, with a helpful rope. Whew. Now we were in the oasis.
After lunch and some exploration of the oasis, it was time for DESCENT. I was nursing a cracked rib, from a hike on Isla San Francisco two weeks before, when a suitcase-sized rock detached itself from a ridge as I pressed on it, so I wanted Nikk to go first and spot me as I downclimbed. Here he is.
That last step took a lot of courage and trust in the fixity of that branch.