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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