Legacy Sailing
 Photo Gallery 33  
October 2005
San Carlos and Copper Canyon
Back in San Carlos in the last week of September we found the temperatures in the low 100s and the sun absolutely brutal.  None the less we had to get busy right away getting the boat ready to go back in the water.  We managed it by starting work early and working until about 11, then resting in the air conditioned hotel room until 3 before return to work until dusk.

One of our projects for 2005 is to make more trips inland in Mexico to get more of a flavor for the country.  We left San Carlos and drove south an hour and a half to Obregon where we headed east on some small, and poorly marked roads.  Well perhaps not poorly marked, but marked differently from the road maps that we had.  Across the flat plains and into the mountains the roads were pretty good.  As we got fully into the mountains the roads became very steep and winding.  They were in pretty good condition, but pretty slow going.  We passed through a few small towns and arrived late in the afternoon at Basaseachi where the waterfall park is located.  We didn't find a good place to camp and it was getting dark so we found a small family run motel and restaurant and spent the night there.  Very basic but quite clean.  The dogs weren't thrilled as they were barred from the room.  Dinner in the restaurant didn't involve a menu, just an offer of what they felt like making, which was fine.

The next day we hit the waterfall park and had a great walk to the lip of the falls.  Unfortunately despite the overnight rains there was very little water in the stream so the cascade was not too impressive, but the view into the canyon over the lip was superb.  Back on the road we took the long way around to Creel.  The roads on the East of the mountains were much better with longer straights and fewer extreme grades.

Creel is the heart of the mountain tourist area.  Tourists arrive mostly by train and bus, but a few like us come by car.  The old part of town is nicely cleaned and cared for, a bit of a contrast to the usual Mexican town.  Lots of restaurants, handicraft and curio stores, and a few displays and museums.  Also unlike any other Mexican city we have been in, cool and comfortable!  Creel is at 7000 foot altitude which gives it cool summers and frosty winters.  Many Tarahumara women in traditional dress are in town, some hawking handicrafts, but many just going about their business. 

After camping overnight near town we drove to Divisadero and Arepo for views of the copper canyon.  Unlike the Grand Canyon, Copper Canyon is much lusher, with green plants from the rim to the valley floor. Also the rock formations don't form the same high cliffs, but are thinner and offer more opportunities for trails or tracks.  The Tarahumara have houses throughout the canyon.  Summer places near the rim, and winter homes near the bottom.  Lots of small fields near their camps or homes in the caves.  Copper Canyon is spectacular, deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon, but also very different and more welcoming.

Another night camping and a morning spent in the museum and shopping for Christmas gifts and we were off to the flatlands around Chihuahua.  We had originally planned to cross the mountains back to Hermisillo, but decided that the roads back to Tucson via Chihuahua and El Paso would be much faster and more pleasant.  It also gave us a chance to see more of the State of Chihuahua.

We camped overnight near Cuantemoc in the Mennonite country.  Then on around Chihuahua and onto the road north to El Paso.  Chihuahua generally was a surprise to us.  The homes and businesses were in much better shape and organization than any we have seen in Mexico.  The whole are seemed much more prosperous.  Factories and industry appeared to be productive and well cared for.  Lots of quite nice middle class housing, and less of the third world squalor than in other cities we've seen.

After a long wait at the border in El Paso we found a hotel for the night.  The next day we zoomed on to Tucson where we spent several days shopping for those things that are hard to get in Mexico, like peanut butter. 

Chris swelters in 100 degree heat and a paper suit while cleaning the bottom.  Step into the sun and the temperature in the suit went up about 25 degrees.  Yikes! Kira and Minnow spent most mornings with us in the yard, usually camped out under the large boat next to us where the sun never penetrated leaving the stones cooler.
Although we haven't pulled out mast, it was interesting to watch Elusive get hers put back in.  The boom truck carries the mast from storage with guides walking tip and base. The boat is already positioned under the mast tower.  Rigging is attached to the mast just above the balance point and it is lifted.
Workers carefully guide the mast with lines and by hand as it rises on the cable from the tower.  Naturally the stays all want to tangle too. Eventually the mast is straight and can be lowered carefully into the hull and the stays reaffixed to hold it upright and in column.  Once back in the water there will be lots of adjustment work to do.
Chris works on the final plumbing and wiring for the new large fuel tank.  Having the floor up makes it tough for Heather to get much work done below. The Sea Of Cortez' coast is a wide flat (and hot) plain.  On our roadtrip we drove south to Obregon and then turned inland.  Here hills and mountains start to appear to the east.
We hoped to find a reasonable place to stay or camp in Basaseachi and found this family hotel and restaurant. The small clean cabin came with a wood stove and heavy blankets. There was no menu, you got what was offered.
The Parque Cascadia Basaseachi (waterfall park) is the local attraction.  Just above the lip of the falls a footbridge crosses the stream.  Very low flow when we were there but often great. Although the cascade itself was disappointing, the view into the canyon from the lip more than made up for it.  One can hike trails (5 hours) down into the canyon and back, but we just looked.
We drove on to Creel, the town nearest the canyons. It boasts a clean tourist area with both foreign and domestic visitors in the museums and on the streets. Many groups of Mexican students were in town.  Often they wore matching t-shirts or other signs.  This group of girls posed for group shot after shot so all could have a picture!
We stayed at a camp on Tarahumara land a couple of miles outside Creel.  No spaces, just drive around in the woods until you find a spot you like. Tarahumara adults and children like these would come by regularly selling trinkets.  We preferred to pay for a photo rather than gather more junke.
We drove through the Tarahumara community of San Ignacio.  The people live simply, growing foods like corn and tending animals. In San Ignacio there is a small mission church.  The Tarahumara combine their old beliefs with Catholicism in unusual ways, attributing different meanings to church symbols.
We stopped at the Hotel Mirador in Arepo for coffe to enjoy the view into the canyons.  The terrace perches at the lip of the cliffs and offers spectacular views. We passed this small and well kept chapel in Arepo and had to stop for a quick pic.
Divisadero is the train stop along the canyon rim.  It offers spectacular views of the lovely green valleys and steep rock walls.  The Tarahumara build homes and fields down the canyon walls. There is a hotel, train station, and vendor booths and a plaza right along the rim of the canyon.  While not as vertical as the Grand Canyon, it is deeper and larger.
The hotel at Divisadero, the Posada Barranca where we had a fine lunch with a great view, has its entry perched along the lip of the cliffs at one end of the plaza. Their front door is graced with this magnificent three dimensional carving of a Tarahumara woman at sunset.
The Tarahumara women vendors in their colorful traditional dress rest in the shade of the tree on the plaza waiting for the next rain of bus of tourists.  The view from their office is great! Followign the road from Creel back out of the mountains to the east the sides of the road are lined with yellow flowers and the nice green pine trees.
As the hills fade the high plains of Chihuahua spread out. Rich apple orchards and agricultural lands.  Lots of tilled fields and many herds of cattle. The area around Cuantemoc was settled by German speaking Mennonite farmers after the Mexican revolution.  This statue of a tall (for Mexico) farmer holding a sheaf of grain decorates a downtown intersection.
While in Tucson we had time to take the girls for a walk in the very nice Catalina State Park.  The undergrowth was still a bit green from the summer rains. All along the canyon loop trail that we enjoyed were forests of large saguaro cactus.
Updated 11/14/2006