Tuesday February 21 2017

Posted by James on April 09, 2015
  • Mule rain headed to supply backpackers in the Sierra Laguna mountains
    Mule rain headed to supply backpackers in the Sierra Laguna mountains
  • Horsecamp backpacking into the Sierra Laguna
    Horsecamp backpacking into the Sierra Laguna
  • Creekbed in the Sierra Laguna
    Creekbed in the Sierra Laguna
  • Looking back at the Pacific Ocean from the Sierra Laguna mountains
    Looking back at the Pacific Ocean from the Sierra Laguna mountains
  • High mountain meadow
    High mountain meadow
  • Water can be found through much of the year at altitude
    Water can be found through much of the year at altitude
  • Frosty morning for the author in the Sierra Laguna
    Frosty morning for the author in the Sierra Laguna

The Sierra de La Laguna is the mountain range located in Baja Sur south of La Paz and on southward towards Cabo San Lucas. It has been referred to as an island due to its isolation from the rest of the world by its remoteness and therefore has a great bio diversity that is relatively un-effected by civilization.

The Biosphere of the Sierra de La Laguna is a protected area by UNESCO, is the back drop of many towns in Baja Sur and is where most of the water comes from in Baja Sur. Here is a trip that a friend made up to the Sierra de La Laguna using pack mules assisting the long 13 hour hike to the top.

I interviewed Fhêr by phone after having seen his post on this incredible trip he took with his daughters. Fhêr said this trip was on his “bucket List” for a longtime and he really offered up a lot of great details and suggestions making it clear that it is a difficult hike but well worth it.

Fhêr Gómez

The hike to the top once the mule train is packed is about a 13 hour hike with some stops along the way. The mules are arranged ahead of time and cost 500 pesos per mule and can carry 3 “Costals” which are those big bags used by farmers and seed stores. You can purchase them in any seed, candy “Dulceria” store or bakery but Fhêrrecommends not using the bakery ones due to getting flour all over your gear. You want to pack everything in with mules except for the water, food, sleeping bag, camera, lights, clothing and what not that you want with you on the hike. They send the mules ahead with your gear and you will not have access to any of those things till you arrive at the Laguna at the top. He explained that due to our recent storms that there is plenty of water along the way this year so you don not have to carry water for the whole trip like in drier years.

November is considered to be the best time of year to make the trip and 100’s do every year. I’ve had plenty of Mexican friends make the hike at Christmas and Easter breaks as well. For this reason not only are there permits required but a military and federal check point on the way in to regulate how many and who is on the mountain. There is no alcohol, guns or drugs allowed in this area the army did inspect their day packs for any of this.

Fhêr said they departed “La Burrea” at 2pm to avoid the hotter temperatures of the day. They hiked till 11pm (this is why you need flashlights and or head lamps) to “Aguaje” where they rested till 3am. They then continued on in the dark passing through “La Ventana” (the window) area where you have a view of both the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately for this trip they had a lot of clouds and low visibility.

They continued on to the place known as “Clambrina” which is from the Spanish word “Calambres” which translates into cramps in English. He said it is very appropriately named due to the fact the hike becomes steep and narrow like a vertical staircase and your legs really tire fast. They continued on till 7:30am where they finally arrived at the Laguna de la Sierra at daybreak.

La Laguna is where they made camp and where they were rejoined with the mules and all of the gear. They stayed 2 nights at the Laguna and while many hike on to the top of Picacho del Diablo (Devil’s Peak) he has a bad knee that kept this from doing so.  He told me how amazing it was the speed of the changes of the plants and animals as you hike up from the lower elevations. They did see some deer, many squirrels and hawks. He said that local people can arrange to hunt for wild pigs or boar (Jabali) because of their increasing numbers. They had no interest in hunting. You are not allowed to cut firewood in this protected area but you may pick up whatever you need from down trees and after hurricane Odile there was plenty of firewood available. He also said that the campground and surrounding area was very clean and they are very good at “pack it in, pack it out”.

Here is the original post by Fhêr Gómez with his description of the Sierra de Laguna Biosphere, location, climate, flora and fauna

“The Sierra de la Laguna is a mountain range on the Baja California Peninsula of Mexico. It lies at the southern end of the peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur, and is the southernmost range of the Peninsular Ranges.

The southern tip of the peninsula, including the Sierra de la Laguna, was formerly an island, and it has a distinctive flora and fauna, with many affinities to southern Mexico. The Sierra is home to many endemic species and subspecies. The dry San Lucan xeric scrub extends from the coast to 250 meters elevation. The Sierra de la Laguna dry forests occupy lower portion of the range, from 250 to 800 meters elevation. Above 800 meters elevation, the dry forests transition to the Sierra de la Laguna pine-oak forests.

The composition of the pine-oak forests varies with elevation; oak woodlands predominate from 800 to 1200 meters elevation, with oak-pine woodlands between 1200 and 1600 meters elevation, transitioning to pine-oak forests above 1600 meters elevation. The predominant pine is a local subspecies of Mexican Pinyon, Pinus cembroides subsp. lagunae. The forests are exploited commercially for timber, and cattle-raising is common in the oak woodland and dry forest zones.

UNESCO has designated the Sierra de la Laguna a global biosphere reserve: "This semi arid to temperate sub-humid climate area represents highly important and contrasted ecosystems, including arid zones, matorrales (shrubbery), low deciduous forest type, evergreen oak: Quercus devia (“encino”) woods, pine-evergreen oak mix woods and oases with palms and “guerivos” situated throughout the gallery of forest following the long river basins." The Biosphere reserve was established by a Mexican presidential decree of 6 June 1994, which designated a core area and buffer zones. The core area is centered on the higher-elevation oak-pine forests, while the transition area includes the communities of Todos Santos, El Pescadero, El Triunfo, San Antonio, San Bartolo, Buena Vista, Los Barriles, Las Cuevas, Santiago and Miraflores.

The climate is influenced by its altitude. At higher altitudes, it has a subtropical highland climate with cool temperatures year round and higher amounts of precipitation.

I want to personally thank Fhêr Gómez for taking his time to share his trip with our readers on www.bajainsider.com . This by all means a amazing trip that will demonstrate the incredible contrast that is Baja. From desert to pine forested mountains and a view from side to side of the peninsula. I would like to make this trip myself but will have to resort to horseback due to my severe arthritis and Fhêr and I are already talking about when in the spring to do this.

Additional Information

There is an office in Todos Santos for the Sierra de La Laguna where you may arrange your trip and purchase permits. The Office is SEMARNAT (Secretaria de Medio Ambiente Y Recursos Naturales).

Address: Calle Alvaro Obregon s/n Col. Pueblo Nuevo (right next to the RED CRoss, and the funerary house).

E-mail karelly.diaz@conanp.gob.mx and the land line is (612) 122-6890.

If you are interested in making this trip with mules you may contact Davidcito who is one of the mule guides, his cell phone number is: (612) 151-0330. You may have to try several times due to the fact that he comes up and down the Sierra all the time and there is no signal whatsoever, you can only reach him when he is down.

For the office in charge of the Biosphere Sierra de La Laguna overall

Jesús Eleazar Quiñónes Gómez
Dirección de la Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra La Laguna

Melchor Ocampo No. 1045 E/Lic. Verdad y Marcelo Rubio
23000 La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
(52) 612 1226890 or (52) 612 1239300

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