Parque Nacional - Sierra de San Pedro Martir
I knew it would be similar in feel to my former home yet a world away in place. The fault block range—similar in formation to, say, the Sierra Nevada—allowed a nice gradual climb from the west where we enjoyed desert scenery which slowly transitioned to pinyon forest and ultimately a coniferous wonderland. On the plateau of the San Pedro we felt eerily at home as Olive-sided Flycatchers shouted "three-quick-beers" from the tops of sugar pine and white fir. Yet at the same time it was different. Millions of year of divergent evolution was at play here. Sugar pine cones were shorter, white fir needles were lighter green, and how did these birds find this place? This was an isolated sky island community with its own unique feel. These mountains offered a new twist and a better understanding of old friends. I can now say that I (anthropocentrically) comprehend what it is to be a white fir, sugar, lodgepole, or Jeffrey pine in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. What an amazing National Park.
Fueling up on tacos in San Vicente before powering into the wilderness of Baja California Norte.
How could we miss this sign? The turn was not as obvious as we thought. Once we found it, the boy was happy.
In the lowlands before entering the park we scouted the hillsides for the Baja endemic gray thrasher (Toxostoma cinereum), and found several (Thanks for the tips Gary!). This one posed for the binoculars and the camera—accounting for my second lifer bird of the trip.
Entering the park - the rangers seemed surprised to see us as there had only been two other parties over the previous weekend.
The massive conifer-rich plateau of the San Pedro Martir which we would traverse to reach the eastern escarpment. The dramatic peak is Picacho del Diablo.
The edge of the eastern escarpment offered views to the desert and the distant Sea of Cortés—all framed by sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana).
Joshua Tree south—granitic outcrops were decorated with conifers rather than the pesky and often prickly angiosperms of the desert—here at a much higher elevation.
Mitch dwarfs one of the many massive Jeffrey pine.
A gnarled Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) and more Picacho del Diablo.
This was the only area I was able to find the rare San Pedro Martir cypress (Cupressus montana). It grew in a ravine above a dry creek bed and associated with white fir, sugar pine, and Jeffrey pine. Several of these trees reached significant size (3 feet DBH) and were approximately 80 feet tall. Jeff Bisbee keyed me in to where to find these trees—thanks Jeff. See his report HERE.
Needles and cones of Cupressus montana (or Cupressus arizonica var. montana)
Another endemic, Arctostaphylos peninsularis.
On the return...
A side trip—on our return it was a 15 minute drive to see the southern range extension of bishop pine (Pinus muricata) near the coastal town of Ejido Erendira, south of San Vicente.
Salsipuedes GringosMitch and I (along with our families) were worried about entering Mexico because of some of the news we had been hearing recently. With the assurance of several friends who had made recent trips we took the leap, crossed the border, and had an excellent journey. The people were friendly and accommodating and the roads were in good shape and safe to travel.
On our return we passed the town of Salsipuedes which translates to "get out while you can." While this thought was in the back of our minds on the way down, on our return I could only think—when can I get back?