Monday, February 15, 2010

Interlude: Trekking in Copper Canyon country: Urique, Chihuahua to Batopilas and return (12/29/08 - 1/6/10)

With Jason in Oaxaca, and Cass gone off for 2-3 weeks, Jeff and Anna parked the bikes at Entre Amigos in Urique and headed off on foot for Batopilas, a 2-3 day walk away.  A delicious break from the bicycle, free and on foot.  Here a storm is clearing as we leave our camp along the Urique River:


A truly Mexican treat.  A watermelon-flavored lollipop covered in chili pepper.

Here is Jeff getting directions and doing a style comparison with a local rancher.
(photo Anna Kortschak)

The Copper Canyon area is well-known for it's weed plantations, hidden deep in the canyons.  Here is one we stumbled upon...

(photo courtesy Anna Kortschak)

A great Urique canyon river scene.  Looking lower left, foreground, you will see another cannabis plantation:

this was our source of topographical information for the walk... a digital photograph of an old beat-up map at Entre Amigos.  It served us very well.


Our second night out we also camped along the river, and woke up the following morning with this scene:


The water was cool, but refreshing in the sun, and we took advantage...


Then we started climbing out... 6000 feet...
... winding through cactus country...
... and up and up...

 

Evening of this big climbing day found us camped in a cave high on the mesa between Urique and Batopilas.  This was the dusk scene...


... and in the morning...

Our first views of Batopilas Canyon, before the descent...

We pass a friendly local going the other direction...


Anna contemplating this stunning scene:

So we descend, nearly 6000 feet, Batopilas Canyon being the third-deepest in North America...


 A shrine near Batopilas:

Batopilas for New Year's Eve.  Lots of pointy cowboy boots, local girls in tight dresses and gaudy make-up, and all-night dancing.
A three-piece band provided the entertainment; tuba, accordion, and guitar.

This was the scene that night in Batopilas.  Drinking beers in the streets, showing off fine cowboy attire.

We left the following morning, heading back to Urique by a different route.


This route kept us on top of the mesa most of the way, which led to stunning vistas and great dusk scenes...


A piece of fine trail work along the way...

This is a picture of the road that we would be going to take out of Urique several days later! (on bicycle).

An abandoned ranchito at La Llesca.  We saw many abandoned ranches on this return route.  Apparently the mountain folk leave the mountains for the winter and go to Batopilas or Urique.

This map above shows the area where an asalteante (bandit) has attacked numerous groups of hikers in the past year.  We passed close by this area, but escaped unscathed.  

The following photo shows the road that we had descended to Urique on bicycles on Xmas Day.  We are now on the mesa across the Barranca de Urique.

We followed some rough slickrock trails:
(photo courtesy Anna Kortschak)

... and then began our descent back to Urique...

I dropped my camera here and had to clamber up near vertical cliffs to retrieve it (photo courtesy Anna Kortschak)...

Moments later we negotiated a landslide area, precariously, with near vertical drops beneath...
(photo Anna Kortschak)

... perhaps crocs were not the ideal footwear here...
(photo Anna K.)

Anna looking out into Barranca de Urique...

this is the trail that we descended.  Very exposed, very steep.

A great old oak tree along the path...

And then, here near a ranchito called El Astillero, more cannabis plantations...  This one may be the most beautifully-located in the world...


An old fig tree at La Higuera, a village nearing Urique:

Back at the Urique River.  An hour later we would be back in Urique, mentally and logistically preparing ourselves for the climb out on bicycle.

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