When you’re bikepacking in Baja, crossing the US-Mexico border is just the beginning. Journalist and historian James Stout takes us on a definitively indefinite journey through “Baja” on a bike. 

One of the great advantages of living in San Diego is the ease with which one can leave San Diego and get to the Mexican state of Baja California. The US-Mexico border is about a 20-minute drive from my house, 30 minutes with traffic. But one will likely spend about an hour getting through the border kiosk—especially if you’re trying to load up three people, two bikepacking bikes, and more camping and photography gear than any reasonable person would ever need through the checkpoint.

Still, for some reason, that’s normally how I start my Baja adventures. Up before the sun in San Diego, loading bikes into the car of a friend who has a SENTRI pass (which gets us across the border quicker). I took a trip like this just before an unfortunate incident with a pangolin derailed things for a while.