A quick look at the original itinerary just to confirm that we were on schedule revealed that we had a spare day left! Great!
Jonathan wanted to check out some more local Ferocactus locations and I wanted to take a look around El Arco which was reported as a location for Pachycereus (Lophocereus) schottii var. mickleanus aka the Totempole Cactus, the monstrose form of the plant that is more widespread and known in cultivation than seen in nature.
Right in the middle of the road works on MEX1, some 2o km south of Guerrero Negro we turned east on MEX18 to El Arco. The ‘MEX’ designation is a bit misleading as it is not a hardtop, but a gravel track, mostly in good shape. The first 12 km was clearly an extension of the Viscaino Desert – flat, dry, with minimal cacti on display at 60 kmh, so we made a stop (S3427) to check things out on foot. As I’m logging the co-ordinates for this stop, I notice that just 1.2 km back towards MEX1 an image has been posted of an incredibly colourful Desert in Flower. Wow! What a difference with what we saw! I wonder when that image was taken – what a shame that Google Earth does not include that information. Digging a bit deeper suggests that it was taken before 14 June 2010.
We walked through a dense forest of Fouquieria splendens, Mammillaria dioica (no flowers or fruit on display so not a clear-cut ID), Pachycereus (Lophocereus) schottii, Stenocereus (Machaerocereus) gummosus – creating the forest impression – and Yucca valida.
At S3428, on the outskirts of ‘town’ the same range of cacti and succulent plants plus Pachycereus pringlei were found.
At the coordinates that we had been aiming for (S3429) Jonathan was pleased to find Ferocactus peninsulae while the cacti already seen on the way here were seen again and photographed for the record.
On the way back, 7.8 km before hitting the road works on MEX1 (S3430) we were in the really dry bit typical of the Vizcaino Desert and found the Ferocactus that Jonathan had been looking for: Ferocactus fordii.
Finally we made S3431 before visiting the restaurant where passengers for the Pangas to watch the whales in Ojo de Liebre leave. No we didn’t go again; Angie and I had already made the trip here in 2013 and in any case, sailings for the day had stopped at 16:00. I stayed in the car, nursing my back as it started to seize up after a long day.
If you want to know more about this El Arco, good luck! Searches on various internet search engines get plenty of hits but 99.9% refer to the rock formation at Los Cabos at the southern tip of the peninsula. Although the turning to ‘our’ arch is east off MEX1 on MEX 18 is also in Baja California Sur, MEX 18 heads back to the north, so look for El Arco, BC rather than in BCS.