Matomi Peak, Matomi Canyon
By: Bob Greenawalt
A round of hoorahs go to John Robinson for his fine leadership of an unusually visited part of Baja which began the New Year. Though an Orange County event, it lived up to all DPS standards. With us also was Bud Bernhard of San Diego, who served as navigator for 29 eager participants. Our leaders are no doubt two of the most knowledgeable gringos on San Pedro Martir matters, and this area lies near the southern end of the range. Our ten high clearance vehicles had no problems in making the terrain, which was blessed dustless by a previous rain. We drove directly west from San Felipe until we were stopped by El Picacho del Diablo, and then followed the west side of the valley down to within a mile of Rancho Parral. Here we camped and upon our departure the next morning via backpacks, our cars were attended by a Parral ranchhand.
In a southern direction we climbed two passes and after about 5 or 6 miles reached our first palms. From here it was possible to see the rancho of Don Tomas Dowling. We later met this wise man, and he told us that his grandfather was an Englishman who prospected in Baja, hence his non-Spanish surname. Don Tomas is alone, with three pigs and one piglet in the yard. He did have ten little ones but the coyotes got the rest. He lost his house due to fire last October and has been constructing a new one of adobes which he himself has molded. His place is approximately 80 miles from the closest town of any size, San Felipe. This man deserves a lot of credit for his existence and makes a livelihood from cattle (part of a communal EJIDO).
We left his plot and came immediately to the mouth of Canyon Matomi which has literally thousands of blue fan palms, and best of all, a fine flow of water. Two camp nites were within the Canyon amid chill winds. This time of year brings shadows at 3:00 PM!!!
Our third day was spent in trying to win Pico Matomi, which was unknown to all of us--its exact location that is. So a shortly-after dawn departure led us up one palmed canyon and a few errors in trailblazing were committed during the day, but as a result Pico Matomi was scaled by all takers except me. The snow and wind in the upper levels were too much for me this time. Some of the drifts were almost knee-high and led to wet feet. But the climbers were successful and we all know where the peak is now. It reminds me somewhat of Avawatz Mtn. in difficulty to reach its summit. I would say it must be seven miles from where we camped, toward the SSE. We had some sort of a bootleg topo sheet but the scale was too small to do much good. I guess about a dozen or so persons captured the peak while the remainder hung around camp or did small hikes. Exploratory hikes generally mean getting lost and this trip was no exception; on the return to camp at least a couple of hours of darkness passed before the main group returned.
I was so thrilled with the area, I want to return. Who knows, maybe this peak will make the DPS list and become a regular!!!! From its summit the Sea of Cortes was in wide view.
The return home was practically a backplay of the above. Everyone returned to the cars with their blood well-tested due to the abundance of Cholla, Ocotillo and Agave (Spanish Bayonet). Never forget your tweezers in this Bajaland. Matomi is bound to see the DPS come in for a first time.
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