Altar 2003 Day 3: 06-12-2003

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From Camp Pork Loin to Camp Surf and Turf

Pork Loin was a good camp.  There was no wind and while cold, it was tolerable.  Since I had set up the tripod, I was positioned for shots of the sunrise assuming I could get my lazy ass out of bed in time.  Below is the result.

The morning shadows highlight the vastness of the Altar.

Looking back to the US from the tundra.

Mike and Alison enjoying the gun port on Mark's ex-military 1300.  We were on our way to El Gulfo to score shrimp, clams and diesel.

We followed the railroad tracks of the trans-Mexico railroad for a short distance to get to the access road to El Gufo.  There are many abandoned buildings built by the railroad, here is one of them.  We did not stop, but it was clear that the structure had been gutted for building materials.

As we approached El Gulfo, we had to negotiate a canyon to get from the upper mesa to sea level.  Below are the cliffs on the approach to the canyon.

From the mesa, you can see El Gulfo below.

As we got further into the canyon, we encountered this fellow.  The Mexicans would call him a basurero -- a garbage man.  He was quite a way from town and was picking through the garbage in the canyon (of which there was no shortage).  We stopped to give him our plentiful supply of empty beer cans.  When he saw us stop, he ran toward us requesting water, which we gave him.  Pretty sad, this really reminds us how lucky we are to live in the United States.

As we got closer to El Gulfo, the scope of the garbage in the canyon became apparent.  I thought that the evenly spaced abandoned washing machines were quite artistic.  The smell from the rotting shrimp heads was sobering, so we moved along smartly after the photo.

It was sad to see the garbage so close to the city cemetery.  There were piles of refuse right next to the crypts.

Fuel stop at the only Pemex in town.  Gladly, we all got fuel, though they were running low.

From the main street in town, you could see the fishing pangas in the Sea of Cortez to the south.

Main street, El Gulfo, Sonora, MX.  In town, we bought 10 dozen clams and 2 kilos of shrimp.

Note the size of these bad boys.


After buying shrimp, clams and diesel, we aired up and headed up the blacktop back to the high dunes.  This is the road leading out of town, the Colorado River delta is visible to the left of the photo.

Across the Sea of Cortez, you can see the 10,000 foot peak of Picacho del Diablo just to the left of center in the photo below.

Some miles north of El Gulfo, we turned east off the pavement into the dunes.  The Altar desert is part of the Mexican Biosphere Park, and the sign below shows that they are interested in keeping the horned toads safe from vehicles plowing across this area.  this is not really an issue in the dunes, per se, and we always look out for animals and obstacles when 'wheeling.

We traveled for some distance before we had to cross over the trans-Mexico railroad.  Below, Alison documents our efforts with a video camera through the gun port in Mark's 1300.

I am aware of 2 crosses in the Altar.  The first, and biggest, is near the start of the trail.  The second, shown here, appears to have fallen victim to the shifting sands in the dunes.  The base was planted in a 55 gallon drum and filled with concrete.  This was standing during our 2002 trip, so I am guessing the that the wind blew the supporting sand from around the base allowing it to fall over.

Fresh soft sand.  Note the bow wave of sand in front of the tires.

Double stuck.  I got stuck because I was in deep sand and one gear too high.  Mark got stuck because he was following my tracks and too close and had to stop when I got stuck.  Note that both of us have winch cables attached to our rears.  It was an easy, uneventful extraction.

The backsides of high dunes with razorbacks are always exciting.

We got to Camp Surf and Turf early.  Dan was nice enough to set up his propane shower so several of us took showers.  It felt great.  Below, Kathleen relaxes after her shower with a Tecate beer purchased in El Gulfo.

Camp Surf and Turf was named after the fact that the plan was to have steak and seafood.  We bought a ton of big clams and 2 kilos of shrimp.  Since at the outset of the trip we were not certain that we would make it to El Gulfo, we brought sufficient steak for the crew.  The clams and shrimp were extra.  I was thinking that Camp Gluttony would be a more realistic name, but since the other camps were named after the dinner cuisine, Surf and Turf was probably more appropriate.  The clams were served with melted butter and several kinds of hot sauce.  Yum.  10 dozen only lasted 5 minutes.  Can you say feeding frenzy?

Here Matt is doing the shrimp on the griddle with olive oil, garlic and spices.

You can't forget the "dead red".  Here Kai works on the steak.

We could not finish all the meat, there was just no way.  And, I don't think we ate any of the baked potatoes. So, we saved it and had it for breakfast and lunch the following day.  The moon was nearly full, so I attempted another shot.  300mm, F6.3 at 1/60 sec.

No trip to the back country of Mexico would be complete without burning a derelict tire.  These are available in copious quantities.  Here the team appreciates the head generated from the burning rubber on top of the fire ring.

The wind was good to us that night, it was clear, calm and cold.  We all slept good.

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