By Carol Kramer
For ages I had wanted to visit Baja Dark Skies in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. The week after Christmas last year proved to be THE time. Reservations were made and we were on our way. We took the toll road—-12 hours before it collapsed—and continued down Mex 1 to KM 140 where we turned-off at the village of Diaz Ordaz with the signs for San Telmo and San Pedro Martir National Park and Observatory. We followed the paved road past Meling Ranch to KM 67 and turned left. We passed through a gate and then the fun began.
Four-wheel drive is advised for the last six kilometers although we were told a Prius made it just fine. We were glad to have our trusty Explorer and definitely used her 4-wheel drive. In a couple of spots we needed a second attempt to climb to the top of rock covered slopes. There were also patches of snow and ice– a Baja adventure at its best. Arriving at Rancho la Concepcion and meeting Mike Wirths and Pamela Weston made it all more than worthwhile.
Mike and Pam’s gorgeous home and the delightful cabaña where we stayed are natural in every way. All energy is solar-powered and the two buildings are built of adobe bricks made on site. In addition to Mike and Pam’s living space, which they share with three beautiful felines, the modern home has one bedroom with its own exit for guests. We chose to stay in the 575 square foot casita across the yard. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchenette and seating area, and it accommodates four people. It is equipped with a propane heater, which we happily used. There is also space for camping on the property.
Since restaurants are nowhere close, we ate delicious meals fixed by Mike and Pam. Dinners included homemade pizza and roasted chicken. Breakfasts featured fresh eggs, juice and fruit. There is an emphasis on nature and ecological friendliness. Pam and Mick raise chickens, grow their own vegetables and fruit trees and were getting ready to add goats to their property.
The peace and quiet of the area is mesmerizing—a healing for the body and soul. You can be content just watching Condors flying overhead. We went on a hike with Pam and Mike through patches of snow to an old homestead of the native Kiliwa Indians. At sunset we climbed a hill in back of their house for a spectacular view of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.
Of course, the highlight of the visit was the astronomy show. Mike is a longstanding member of the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada, well known for his lunar and planetary images published in several astronomy journals. He has built an observatory behind their house with a sliding roof so the sky is available for viewing. He has two telescopes an 18″ and a 30” Starmaster Dobsonian. We just so happened to choose a clear night with no moon so the night sky was spectacular. We donned gloves, hats and heavy coats and gladly braved the cold to view and learn about stars, clusters, planets, constellations and galaxies. The next morning we used Mike’s new Lunt 152mm Hydrogen alfa solar telescope to study the sun with its flares and sun spots. Viewing the posters on the walls of the observatory gives you a glimmer of the majesty of our immense and incredible world and of the cosmic miracle that we are all part of.
For more details about this magical place, check out their web site: www.bajadarkskies.com. Baja Dark Skies is open from March 1st to Dec 31st, and they give Discover Baja members a free viewing of the night sky. This little bit of heaven is definitely a wonder of Baja—not to be missed.