Tag Archives: Spiny

Everything has a point!

16 Feb

Southern Baja is a long peninsula with the Gigante Mountains running down the middle of it like a backbone. Rattlesnake Beach where we are is on the eastern side of the Gigantes, on a large Alluvial Plain, right at the foot of the mountains. The summer months here are the wet season and rain comes from the western side of the peninsula, over the Gigantes and down through the vast canyons, gullies and out the arroyos. Every year the rains add to the gradual erosion of the mountains and brings fresh sand down out of the hills, to replace that which the Grande Norte blows away.

The Alluvial floodplain we live on

All of Baja is desert, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t life here. There is an amazing variety of it, but everything must struggle mightily to survive on the generally small amount of water that the rainy season brings. A scant 6 to 8 inches a year may be all that falls over an entire year, though sometimes it can come in one massive hurricane event. Hurricanes are rare this far up the peninsula, but there have been 2 in the last 4 years, the last one 2 years ago. Since then there has been drought conditions with little or no rain falling at all. Consequently every plant must develop a survival mechanism, to take advantage of good rain years and  survive low ones.
They all have various ways to absorb and store water and to protect themselves from those that would steal it.  Almost all cactus are built like accordions and can expand hugely storing water for years. They also have spines to protect themselves and keep their water loss to a bare minimum, but so do almost all the bushes, shrubs and trees here. The Mesquite tree we have that provides us with shade also covers our campsite with nasty, thorny branches. Take a close look at the photo below of the Palo Verde bush, you’ll notice that every stem and branch ends in a very sharp point. It doesn’t have it’s leaves right at the moment, but they also end in daggers.

Palo Verde Dipuga

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here in a few photos is the natural world around us. These are just a few of the many varieties of cactus that grow on the flood plain behind our beach and on Still Point Island on the north end of Danzante. I could include many more shots of all of the various other types of plants that carry deadly weapons around us, but I figured these few would suffice to give you a basic idea as to how careful one must be when going for a short walk in the wilds of Baja!

Chain Link Cholla

Sour Pitaya

Pipe Organ Cactus

Old Man Cactus

At high tide the land bridge disappears, and Still Point assumes it’s name!

Still Point Island

A typical island landscape.

When you wander the islands, you must pay a great deal of attention to where you put your feet. The cactus can be very small and they blend in and hide very well!

Fish Hook Cactus, blending in!

A baby Barrel cactus, hiding from the sun and wind

Strawberry Cactus

It seems scary I know, but you  get used to it, just like everything else in life. Sometimes it seems as if you’re dancing as you move along any path, zigging and zagging to avoid those plants that reach out for you. After a few bloody arms, legs or feet you learn how to avoid the obvious, look for the hidden and wear thick soled shoes!