To Hell with Tijuana
Sandstorm! Granules from the now mostly dry Laguna Salada catch wind and sail across our route for hours, impeding the rescue of the jackknifed truck by squinting federales.
We're trailing around the giant Laguna Salada, stopping first in Mexicali. The obviously mixed Asian-Mayan-Spanish faces and Chinese script tell of this city's past as a Chinese labor town. From here, we take Route 2, turning at a signed dirt-road exit 20 miles out of town. We trek south, back toward the Sierra Juarez and into the western canyon perimeters of Parque Nacional Constitucion de 1857. The rocky road to Caqsn Guadalupe is some 35 miles, first along the shore of the Salada, then along sandy flats. The driving's more difficult than the canyon hiking, where inclines are merely moderate, with sandy footpaths most of the way. And the scenery's nothing less than spectacular: We find blue mineral pools dancing down the canyon and thousands of California fan palms lining the creek. These palms are, oddly, the only major species endemic to the Californias, and they're magnificent, forming dark, cool canopies of mosque-like interiors.
We hike farther into the canyon; it narrows and waterfalls form small pools. I swim in the cool water, watching a lizard make it down the cliff for a drink. It notices me, loses its grip, and hangs by one hand off the wall, finally making a pounce for a nearby ledge and escaping to the drink. The moment crystallizes for me what our travels through Baja have been all about: persistence and, of course, success.
Camping in Canon Guadalupe requires a $10 to $20 fee. It's best to stake out all three independently run campgrounds before making a choice. Many spots have access to private mineral pools, shade, or camp-grills.
Read about Erik's adventure in southern Baja!
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication