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Trip to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir - August 2012

Baja California’s New  Museum

Inaugurated August 9, 2012


At the beginning of August 2012 I returned to the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park with Pili my corgi, worthy successor to Penny and Pedro who accompanied me on my summer 2001 stay in the park, and whose photos, of course, adorn the cover of  Nearer My Dog to Thee.

Pili had lots of fun being teased by the squirrels and growling at coyotes while she followed me and occasionally led me as I hiked through pine forest and meadow and up and down granite boulders.



Approaching the entrance to the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir



Endemic Mearns's squirrel  (Tamiasciurus mearnsi)



Hungry coyote inviting Pili over for lunch



Pili romping among the fallen trees and rose sage



Resting on a rocky high point - sugar pine cones hanging on the right


Normally I like to visit a little earlier in the year when it’s not too hot and there’s maybe a few patches of snow still on the ground, but we gave it a try for early August hoping to avoid any dramatic rain and hail from the monsoonal storms that affect the area in high summer.

It rained on us most days, but mostly lightly and predictably between 2 to 5 PM. Otherwise the gathering thunderheads just provided welcome midday shade, cooling breezes and a fantastic energy in the forest. Certainly my brave little corgi didn’t seem too bothered by all the booms and rumblings as other areas of the mountains were getting hammered by lightning strikes and torrential rain.


Thunderheads looming over the San Pedro Martir



Torre de Piedra - a great viewpoint, but perhaps not in a thunderstorm



Picacho Diablo from the tower



My campsite near the park entrance



Pili sleeping off her day's exertions


The rangers and staff of the “Parque Nacional de San Pedro Mártir” were as friendly and helpful as ever. They informed me that the "Visitor’s Center" which has been sitting empty and in need of a  little TLC for ten years was finally going to open on August 9, 2012. Nearly all the park staff would be in attendance, and many dignitaries would be there along with reporters from Baja newspapers and television crews - possibly even the governor of BC himself!



The "Museo de Cultura e Historia Natural



Museum entrance


Even though the governor never showed, it turned out to be quite an event and the museum was finished and ready for its inauguration. A helicopter came and went, there were academic and political dignitaries from Mexicali, Ensenada, La Paz and Mexico City, and plenty of speeches about the importance of conservation and educating visitors from Benito Bermudez, regional director of CONANP, Juan Rafael Elvira Quezada, Secretary of SEMARNAT, and Efraín Nieblas Ortiz, the Secretary for the Protection of the Environment of Baja California which has direct responsibility for the park.



The digniteries make their speeches



Friendly ranger watching out for me


The blue ribbon was cut, the doors were open and sixty people poured inside to appreciate the work and investment that has been put into making this Museum well worth a visit. Galleries and rooms told of the region’s geological and natural history, its peoples, the early explorations by missionaries, soldiers, scientific expeditions, and the work being conducted at the Observatory and the California condor project.



Discussing the exhibits



Plenty of filming and phographing



Jesuit padre Link's pioneering visit to what was then called the Sierra Nevada




Record of a National Geographic and other expeditions to the San Pedro Martir



Some of the mushrooms seen in the San Pedro Martir



The main gallery looking towards the museum entrance 






Tribute to the Kiliwas - first inhabitants of the San Pedro Martir






Cultural aspects of Kiliwa life




History of the San Pedro Martir Observatory


Information about the work conducted at the Observatory





Section illuminating missionary and vaquero history




                                                                Answering questions from the media




Final group shot as it starts to rain 




Welcoming and helpful park staff



Rain falls on the now cleared deck


For such an out of the way location, the quality of the Museum testifies to the vision that strives to conserve the San Pedro Mártir for future generations… and bring as many as 10,000 more visitors to the park each year!

I have mixed feelings about that of course… but after twenty years of being enthralled and delighted by this very special piece of protected Baja real estate, I’ll be content if there’s a quiet spot for me and my dog to camp and explore next year.

To get to the museum follow the road through the park towards the Observatory and you’ll find it on your left past the Tasajera turn, just before you reach Vallecitos. It’s described as the Centro de Cultura para la Conservacion on the park map given to visitors. However, the sign outside declares Museo de Cultura e Historia Natural.




And above all... the condors and the magnificent twin peaks of Baja's highest mountain - Picacho del Diablo