By: John Robinson
From, a distance, the precipitous eastern rampart of Baja California's Sierra de Juarez looks drab, arid, and totally uninviting. You must penetrate this hostile-appearing desert scarp to discover its hidden surprises - picturesque canyons replete with year-round streams and lush palm oases. Fifty-six DPSers and guests, ranging in age and ability from 4 to 76, did just this the first weekend of December.
Meeting early Saturday at the northern edge of the Laguna Salada, our large party caravaned south and then, southwest across the vast, featureless floodplain to visit some of these picturesque spots First stop was at Cantu Palms, a palm oasis on the eastern slope of the Sierra Juarez once used as a woodchopping and mining camp. (For the full story, read Randall Henderson's 'We Camped at Cantu Palms', Desert, August, 1946'.) We planned to explore next a deep gash in the range known variously as Canyon Torrentes, Canyon Tanques, or Canyon de Las Palmas Azules (depending on which authority you believe). However, a very poor access road and the varied make-up of our large party resulted in a decision to pass. This rugged chasm appears to merit a future exploratory trip by strong hikers.
After negotiating some pitches of deep sand, we arrived at our Guadalupe Canyon campsite in time for lunch. That afternoon, most bathed in the very freshing hot spring-fed pool, while a few of the more adventuresome explored up-canyon. For the benefit of those planning future visits, it should be noted that the price has doubled ($2 per car) while the facilities have degenerated. (Badly needed is a strong work party to clear up the litter and debris.)
Sunday morning 22 of our group explored up-canyon, going a distance of about three miles, Guadalupe Canyon is a botanical wonderland - both Washingtonia and the rare Erythea (Blue Palm) are present in abundance, along with Elephant Trees, several species of cacti, and a few Cottonwoods. Our one big disappointment was that the usually sparkling pools - both the Bathtub and the Pool of the Virgin - were clogged with sand. Needed is a cloudburst torrent to clean them out. (For a full description of the canyon, read Henderson's "Guadalupe Canyon in Lower California", Desert, January', 1946.)
Four peak-baggers climbed nearby Cerro Rasco (not Risco), one of our DPS qualifying peaks; while the rest enjoyed a morning soak in the big pool. Early that afternoon, we caravaned out - a long line of cars choking in the fine, dust of the Laguna Salada (It pays: to be leader on occasions like this!).
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