Friday, September 18, 2009

A Fun Day, Arno's back to his low stress state!

The day started much better than yesterday... no six stage runs, no border crossings, and a good night's sleep. Today was a very adventurous day, exploring and not making any real forward progress. That's what we came to the Copper Canyon area to do and we did it, but torrential rains, hail, lightning, mud, and flooding made the last half of the day a little too exciting, but adventuresome, that's for sure. We cut short of Creel again and wound up getting a room in San Juanito.

Here's a map of the area, we were riding off pavement for a good portion and this map is not routable, but you can follow along the towns and steep terrain (we spent almost the entire day above 7,000 feet, and were as high as 8,900 feet.

View Larger Map

We began our day being greeted by the maintenance worker of the hotel in La Junta. Arno got his pic, but I got his puppy, Blackie...

We talked to another hotel tenant who was very nice and gave us a good idea of the things to see around Copper Canyon (Arno captured his pic too). With his advice in mind, we set off for Tonachic, a small Indian town considered to be the birth place of the Mexican Revolution that led to Mexico's independence. Mexico celebrates Independence day on September 16th, a very important date as it's been nearly 200 years for Mexico to be independent from Spain. We just missed the celebration by one day!

As we set off for Tonachic I tried to snap a photo of Arno in trail, but my camera delays the shot after I pull the shutter and it accidentally took a decent self-portrait while in motion...

It was a very pretty but uneventful ride to Tonachic, pleasurable with good temps and again less stress. Here's a shot of a short break with the bikes on the edge of a roadside lookout:

We stopped in Tonachic to have breakfast and a couple of locals recommended the Magale, there's Arno taking a break...

The inside was pretty quaint... no English spoken here, but they did produce a menu hand written in English which helped!

The coffee was hot water and instant, but the O.J. was delicious to start. We're finding that instant coffee is pretty typical in this region. Thank goodness for my Jetboil!

We both had Huervos breakfast burritos, here's a shot of Arno's plate... they were delicious by the way.

We both had O.J., coffee, and breakfast, total cost was about 140 pesos, or just a little over $10 U.S. for both. I'd say less than half the cost for the same in the States.

Here's a shot of our waitress and cook, you can see their Indian heritage...

Out front a couple of boys walked by and I grabbed a shot...

The restrooms (Banos) were way at the back of the hotel which didn't look like much but I peaked in a room and it was very nice with a lot of personality... a typical small town hotel, one that I probably would have preferred to the "Super 8" style we stayed at last night (but it had internet, which has so far been surprisingly easy to find).

When I returned from visiting the Banos, I found that Arno had befriended 3 young children - all the kids seemed happy. Andrea, the oldest, was raised in the U.S., but their parents moved back down to Mexico. She spoke perfect English, of course, and they were all dressed well and had good manners!

That reminds me to mention that EVERYONE has been VERY, VERY nice in Mexico. Everyone who sees our bikes waves at us as we go by. They come up to us and talk and help us with our Spanish. At no time have we ever felt unsafe or insecure. We have had people advise us to be in by dark, but again, the people have been fantastic.

We then rode some VERY fun and TWISTY roads to a small town called Basaseachi. That ride was the most fun of the trip so far and was stunning:

There are a lot of very nice old stone fences in the area, some in good repair and others that are crumbling. Here's a nice one...

Animals all over, Arno had to come to a near stop as these calves wouldn't move until he beeped his horn at them...

Basaseachi is home to the world's 11th tallest waterfall (cascadia), and the second tallest in Mexico

The area is surprisingly nice, reminds me of a high elevation northern California. Would be great for camping and hiking.

While Arno guarded the bikes I set off to photograph the waterfall. There was a beautiful stone path, the first sign said 900 meters to cascadia... hey, I can do 9 or 10 football field lengths, no problem.

You have to cross a suspension bridge to get across the canyon:

Here's the view looking the other way:

I passed several lizards along the way. There were signs warning of cougars:

900 meters in, instead of seeing the falls, you wind up at the edge of the top of the cliff where the falls go over the edge. Just prior to that is another bridge that crosses the gorge above the river.

Here are some pics of the water eroding the rocks taken from the bridge:

From this area, I did get some good pics of the surrounding cliffs which are huge and absolutely vertical:

Hmmm... that's nice, but no view of the falls. The path continues on the other side of the bridge, up a large hill. Here's the view looking back at the bridge and a little cabana:

After that hill, the good path ends and there's a rough and rocky path with a zillion switchbacks that works its way down the cliffs. I went further and further down thinking I'd get a view of the falls, but no. I gave up about 2/3rds of the way down as I realized the climb back up at 7,500 feet elevation and in my motorcycle gear wasn't going to be fun. It wasn't. Two switchbacks, rest, huff and puff, do it again. VERY steep. I later found out that you can actually swim in a big pool underneath the falls. I would have had I known.

The trek back was long, but I met a couple and walked about half way back with them while talking. He actually lives in LA and was just down visiting relatives.

When I finally made it back, I was hot and sweaty and found that Arno had made friends with a couple of bikers...

We departed and started heading on a short cut road back to Creel. Off to the right I saw a sign for the falls and went to investigate to see if I could get a view from the cliffs on the other side. I ran across a real ass and got a picture of the ass's ass :

Three miles later I only had to walk this short path to the cliff's edge:

Then I climbed up in this tower:

And was finally rewarded for my effort with this:

The weather on the back road to Creel started out nice, and it started out on pavement. Here's a view of a little dam that created a pretty little lake:

It was turning out to be a little farther than we thought and Arno took the opportunity to get a little gas from a home that had a hand painted gas for sale sign out front.

The pavement was already long gone, and a little further up the road it began to rain... and rain... and flood... and hail, and lightning...

We were above 8,800 feet at this point on a muddy road that was under construction along the cliffs in the pouring rain:

Every time we thought it was letting up a little, it only started again and got worse. Being on top of a high mountain on a wet motorcycle with lightning all around is part of the adventure we could have done without.

We finally made it to the little town of San Jauanito where it was a flash flood and we were being pelted with double pea sized hail just prior to town. It hit hard enough that it hurt through two layers of motorcycle jackets! The hail was beginning to make the now asphalt road slippery again so needless to say, I didn't pull out my camera to get any pics.

This was a tame time as we got near the town:

As we entered town I saw a covered drive through store so I pulled in for shelter, Arno followed:

We stood there and watched the streets literally flood:

We stayed under cover for probably 40 minutes and then it let up enough for us to try to find a hotel. We found one that had a covered entrance and looked secure, plus they had internet:

330 pesos a night, it actually is very nice for the $30 price:

Of course we had to lay our stuff out to dry:

All in all, a fun and exciting day. The forecast is looking pretty rainy, so we're not sure how we're going to play it yet. We may just look for an easterly route to get us working south, we'll figure it out in the morning.

Tomorrow we're hoping for blue skys, but know we better get started early if we hope to see them at all...

ELO - Mr.Blue Sky:



  1. Beautiful pictures Nate!  Thanks for taking me along!  Connie xoxo

  2. Mexico es bonita but when I watch t.v. it's only drugs, guns, gangs, homocide, etc. thanks for the different perception, you guys rock........