Many residents and winter visitors to this area can remember an earlier time when exploring the trail to Rancho Las Canoas was an annual ritual. We drove up a wide wash to within half a mile of the entrance to the upper Arroyo de Las Canoas (Arroyo of the Canoes) shown at the lower right on the map below. Passing through a small gap in a high rock wall, we found ourselves in a lush desert arboretum with torote, agave, Baja California Rock-Nettle, and other vegetation hanging from the steep south wall of the arroyo. After a short walk that included clambering over boulders and stepping across a meandering stream, we stopped to wonder about the meaning of the Shrine of Las Canoas concealed in a cave just above the trail. Then we proceeded to the ruins of the Ranch. Some hikers continued up to where the sides of the arroyo come together like the prow of a canoe below a high seasonal waterfall that blocks hiking farther. Others trudged up a hill from the Ranch to another arroyo behind a ridge to the south and walked back down a path through a slightly different ecosystem to our starting point. Had we known the history of the Pericu Indians who made the Arroyo their seasonal home, and the Rieke family who first staked a claim on this property, we might have walked slower, quieter, and with more reflective thought and conversation. This story [i] is dedicated to the memory of those people.
Note: After translation from Spanish, interview material has been edited for length and clarity.
During the second half of the 19th century, there was a large migration of ethnic Germans into Mexico. They established several towns on the Mexican mainland where German culture is still evident today. A few brave souls came to Baja California to seek adventure and fortune prospecting for silver and gold. Doña María Rieke’s grandfather, Eduard Rieke, was one of them. Going by the Spanish name Eduardo, he probably arrived in La Paz around 1875 and made his way to El Triunfo to look for work in the mining industry. He met Fructosa Avilés in San Antonio. She was married to Avilés Castro, and they had a son named Raymundo. However, she fell in love with the German Eduardo and left her first husband.Continue reading “Doña María Rieke — Ángel de Las Canoas”