Monday, February 15, 2010

Segment 11. Urique, Chihuahua to Guachochi, Chihuahua (including trekking in Sinforosa Canyon) (1/6/10 - 1/20/10)

We left Urique and our first challenge was to ford the Urique River at Guapalaina.  Anna almost had her front right pannier float away:

(photo courtesy Anna Kortschak)

After fording the river our first task was to climb what were very difficult 7 or 8 kilometers out of the steepest section. 

With steep grades,  gnarly rough surface, and tight switchbacks, some of this section was unrideable with a loaded bike...
(photo courtesy Anna Kortschak)

Stopped for a grapefruit snack.  This is grapefruit with agave sugar, the grapefruits coming from Keith's orchard at Entre Amigos.

Our campsite halfway up the climb.

Anna got an early start, and Jeff remained in camp long enough for the raptors to start passing on the mid-morning thermals.  Here is a red tail hawk:
... and here a couple of turkey vultures...

Further up the grade lessened, but the cycling was far from easy.

These guys are blasting the last bits of what is a fairly new road, about one year old:

A Tarahumara boy at the top of the climb

The big climb was finished (6000 feet on a loaded bicycle on steep dirt roads is no joke), but we still had to negotiate a long stretch of rough road with many lesser climbs and descents...

A painted redstart.  We had also seen many of these on our treks in the barrancas.

Anna working up a climb at dusk...

Here are two young kids who were interested in our travels, near Samachique:

A license plate from Chihuahua, saying "God is my pilot", and bearing a likeness of Pancho Villa.

Arrived in Guachochi, where narcotraficantes (mafia drug traffickers) are supposedly in high number, we didn't waste much time in finding what we needed:

Jeff and Jason together again after 2 weeks (photo Anna Kortschak).

street scene in Guachochi

A painting seen at Mariscos Bucanero

A much-enjoyed plate of fried breaded shrimp

Jason practicing Old Delta Blues in the hotel room

Another Guachochi street scene

Here Anna is going to business on a full bowl of shrimp ceviche, served in stone bowls called molcajetes:

We also managed to find what is often the source of much happiness in Mexico, the local tortillería:

This is pure corn tortilla technology

Some more photographs from the streets of Guachochi:

Here the taxis are pick-up trucks!

Guachochi is located in the Golden Triangle, a notorious area near the borders of Chihuahua, Durango, and Sinaloa states, where marijuana- and opium-growing and trafficking are common and organized by rival drug mafias, and where murder and heavy crime is elevated in comparison with other areas.  In fact two of the biggest cartels in Mexico, from Sinaloa and Ciudad Juarez, fight to stake out their turf here.  Fortunately, we didn´t meet any bad luck or bad characters in our time here.  Instead, we gathered up our trekking gear and headed out to explore Sinforosa Canyon for the better part of a week.  It is the second-deepest canyon in North America.  

We started here, at La Cumbre de Sinforosa, 17 km from Guachochi...

Our first encounter with Che-mania in Mexico

Here Anna is crossing a suspension bridge that is missing several planks, leaving doubt as to the dependability of the remaining ones.

We followed during most of our route what is the course for the yearly ultramarathon race called the Sierra Tarahumara Challenge.  Here is one of the flags along the path:

We couldn't imagine negotiating such a descent on such an exposed trail during a race...

We found some lovely little cascades, and even had a swim in the frigid water.

Rosalinda cascade

Jason enjoying some relaxation, just before what is to be a very hairy descent...

Incredible examples of figs growing in the least likely places

We didn't see any people, except a group of fishermen and one cowboy on horseback, during our trip, but we did see quite a lot of these.

Charro, or cheap liquor, which we brought down for the campfire scenes.  It costs 19 pesos, or about $1.50, for one liter!  It says "Long live Villa!"

Our first night we camped at the bottom of the gorge, and this was the scene we awoke to:

Here is a creature that we found in our campsite...
(photo Anna Kortschak)

This is the first of several encounters with leaf-cutter ants:

These photos show the rough character of the local vegetation, leading to several minor injuries...

Here we are collecting river cress for an evening salad...

absolutely delicious (photo Anna K.)

prickly pear cactus, nopales, which Jason collected and which we put in several meals

fording the Rio Verde, on our way to a campsite near the pictured beach...

Our campsite nestled amongst giant boulders, on white sand...
(photo Anna K.)

This fire kept us warm on a cool night, and also attracted this creature:

The following day we went on a dayhike upriver.  This required numerous fordings.  Here Jason negotiates a fast, deep section.  The water was COLD...

more leaf cutter ants
Anna, clearly out of her mind on a cool cloudy day, contemplates the water, and then goes for it!

A flycatcher seen along the river

Jeff cross training...

turkey vulture seen across from our campsite

Sunny again, Jeff goes for a swim:

We head out from this great campsite, aiming to get halfway back out of the canyon.  Our return will be a different route from the descent...

cowboy on horseback (photo Anna Kortschak)

This bridge is in a slightly worse state than the one we had to cross.  We didn't take this one.

Anna contemplating the scene before we start out on another 6000 foot climb (our fourth in two weeks!); three on foot, one on bicycle.

Climbing out of the canyon, the air was filled with the songs of canyon wrens, orioles, and Mexican jays.

Jason on a stretch of slickrock, the steepness fairly evident:

Nearing the top...

Arrived back at La Cumbre de Sinforosa

Our first priority back in Guachochi was to visit our favorite burrito place so far in Mexico: Montados Express.  In those bowls are a variety of sauces and vegetables, ranging from hot sauce, roasted chilis, chilis in soy sauce, steamed carrots, avocado spread, pickled onions, caramelized onions, and fresh salsa.

These giant burritos, with all the fixings you want, cost 25 pesos, or less than two dollars.


Anonymous said...

Jason strumming Old Delta Blues? Really....find that hard to believe. Can't even count how many times I've heard that over and over and over again. Great Pics guys! Glad you brought us all up to date.

Roma said...

I just stumbled across this post in a search for Urique pictures. Wonderful blog and photographs. looks like you had an amazing time in Chihuahua. Best,