Tajo Canyon


By: Roy Ward



It all started with a phone call from Doug saying that he had hurt his ankle and Ron couldn't make it due to his work. A later phone call confirmed this, so it ended up that I was the new leader and Cris Libby volunteered as assistant.

Three cars and 10 people met at the Pemex Station at the head of Laguna Salada, which is reached by driving West on Mexico 2 for 19.9 miles from the traffic circle intersection of Highways 5 & 2 in Mexicali, Mexico. From the Pemex Sta. on the North side of the road we drove another 2 plus miles West to a large dirt road going South with a couple of buildings close to the road. We followed this road South for apprx. 22 miles past a large canyon with multiple drainage tracts crossing the road. You can see the large light colored block of the Great White Throne at the head of this canyon. We followed a road for apprx. 2 miles that ended up on the South side of the canyon but quite a way from the canyon. We back tracked to the main road and retraced our track a couple of miles then turned West on some previous tracks. We followed these as far as we could and started walking.

It was over a mile to the canyon mouth. There were numerous palm logs along the fan arid canyon. About 2 miles into the canyon we ran into a small stream that ran intermittently all the way to the head of the canyon. We found an old jeep trail along the base of the peaks on the North side of the canyon which made for easier walking. We followed the canyon up about 10 miles to where several canyons joined and it widened out. All up the whole canyon we could see evidence of extremely high water and most of the palms at the bottom of the canyon had been washed away.

We made camp by a couple of small waterfalls and small pools. We met some kids who were from San Diego and had hiked down from the top. There was a little wind that nite but not bad; a nice camp fire and a couple of bottles made for a good time.

Next morn we took off carrying 3 ropes and a little gear up the canyon to the base of El Gran Trono Blanco, the Great White Throne. Around the South side, some brush whacking and quite a bit of bouldering we finally reached a spot we thought we could climb. There is a route for anything that pleases you from HI 5 to 3, but lots of large boulders on the route we chose. Near the top we spooked out a desert big horn who was drinking from one of the tenahas. (tank weathered out of the rock). 8 of us climbed what we thought was the high point but found that we were quite a way from the high point. It is on the North West, but time caught us. Cris Libby and Eric Schumaker tried for it but ran out of time. We gave up and headed back to camp, the last of arriving just at dark. Another campfire behind some rocks, as the wind was quite strong, a couple of jugs of wine and off to bed. Then the winds really came and there was sand everywhere. It was a pretty bad night for most people. However I found a hole to craw in and spent a good night.

Next morning some of the people planned to do a bit of exploring to find the hot springs that the kids from San Diego had told us about. Cris and Henry didn't see anything in the Canyon they tried. Others couldn't find the Canyon that was suppose to contain the springs. We hiked back to the cars and a little pushing to get them turned around, we started to take off. After tge other two cars left, we got stuck. With a little digging, jacking and a couple of pieces of belting, we reached the main dirt road. Tajo Canyon shows indication of having year round water in an intermittent stream and is a very scenic canyon. However, if climbing the Great White Throne only is your desire, it can be day hiked from the roads up on the top of the escarpment.

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