Loop through the Copper Canyon

Cooper Canyon

This post has way too many pictures in it. I would have liked to make a better selection and write something, but I’ve had it sitting untouched in my drafts for over a month now, so it’s time to post it as is and move on.

Vincent and Melanie have a post on their blog (in French) of the week’s ride, in case anyone’s interested in more than just repetitive pictures.

But for a quick summary, I arrived in Creel on November 17 to meet up with Vincent and Melanie, who I had ridden with in Montana on the Great Divide. We spent a week riding a loop through the Copper Canyon (or Barrancas del Cobre in Spanish) in the Sierra Madres before they had to take a bus to Monterrey for a flight to Buenos Aires where they will continue riding north through South America.

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All packed and ready to go. We left much of our unnecessary stuff in Creel for the week.

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The first 60km or so are paved, winding, up and down, with little to moderate traffic.

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It’s about 45km from Creel to El Divisadero, one of the more popular look-out spots for the Copper Canyon.

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Many colourful things for sale by the local Tarahumara natives.

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A few kms past San Rafael, we turned left onto a dirt road that eventually drops down to the river about 10km from Cuiteco and follows alongside it until Bahuichivo.

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Camping beside the river about 10km from Cuiteco.

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It was a beautiful morning ride to Cuiteco, following the river and passing by some amazing rock walls.

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While passing through Cuiteco, we asked if there was somewhere we could fill up our water bottles and were invited for breakfast and given some cheese from their cows for the road. 

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Confirming directions with locals.

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We had perfect weather the whole time.

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Town of Cerocahui.

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Melanie, always popular with the locals.

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Riding out of Cerocahui. The first kms were paved and very steep, but it mellowed out a bit once we hit dirt.

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We were a few kilometers short of reaching the look-out spot at the top of the canyon where we were hoping to camp for the night, so we’d have to make it there for breakfast instead. 

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Not a bad spot for breakfast.

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It was a revelation to ride with so much less weight for the week and furthered my resolve to lighten my load for good.

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The town of Urique, at the very bottom of the canyon. We would be riding back up the other side of the mountain on the left the next day.

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Vincent got a pinch flat on the way down. Melanie, who was waiting a bit further ahead, drew the obvious conclusion that he must have fallen off the side of the cliff and was in a bit of a troubled state by the time we finally caught up.

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Heading out of Urique and starting a full day climb back up the the other side of the canyon.

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Rio Urique. I had seriously considered trying to find a ride back up the canyon the day before so I could camp at the top and ride down again, but I ended up swimming in the river instead.

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The only traffic on the road all day. 

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By the time we had reached the top of the climb it felt like we had gone back in time. Since leaving Urique, we didn’t see a single car all day and the only people we saw were Tarahumara natives who have been living virtually the same way for hundreds of years.

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Once again, not a bad spot for a sunrise and breakfast. A campfire’s a pretty nice addition, too.

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You can see part of the road we were on the day before.

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Some old settlements, seemingly abanonded.

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Corareachi.

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Just as we were finishing lunch, a pickup truck pulled over and out stepped the most outrageous and incongruous Irishman. 

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Mark Brady has been living in the area for 35 years, helping and working with the local Tarahumara natives. He invited us to his house in the small town of Basihuare.

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It was a short but very painful ride in the back of his pickup truck.

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The man in his house.

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We stayed at his house for the night and rode the last stretch back to Creel the following day.

 

It was a good week.