Date: November 19 – 26 (7.5 days)
Start: Basaseachic Falls
Distance: 143 miles (230 km)
Daily Average: 19.1 miles (30.7 km)
Total Distance: 143 miles (230 km)
Our trip began at Basaseachic Falls (246 m / 807 ft). Located in the northwest corner of the Copper Canyon region, Basaseachi is second highest waterfall in Mexico after Piedra Volada (453 metres / 1486 ft), a seasonal cascade located 7 km further south.
The first section of the Copper Canyon Traverse (CCT) linked together two of the region´s six major canyons, namely the Candamena and the Oteros.
It was a mixture of canyoneering, little used trails, dirt roads and plenty of gear ripping, shin busting, expletive peppered bushwhacking. How bad was the bushwhacking? By the end of Day 2, the side pockets on both our backpacks had been torn, I had lost my trekking pole which had been strapped to the side of my pack, and my hiking shirt looked like it had been lifted from the wardrobe of the Incredible Hulk………..albeit a somewhat skinnier version of the big guy.
During this initial period our daily mileage fluctuated dramatically depending upon the conditions encountered.
For example, on the aforementioned day two whilst descending the often technical upper reaches of Candamena Canyon, we managed only 6.5 miles total. In contrast, on the fourth day into Uruachi we covered approximately 35 miles on easy to follow single track and dirt roads.
Gerry the Gold Standard
Whilst wandering the backcountry of developing nations, it´s not uncommon to encounter folk making their way from village to village. When the path is far from clear, chances are you may be inclined to ask one or two of the locals for directions. Their reponse, irrespective of the conditions, usually goes something like: “Just keep going straight………follow the main path…………you can´t miss it………..you´ll be there in an hour tops.” In reality, this more or less translates as follows: “There will be a major junction within 10 minutes, there is no clear path and you have Buckley´s chance of arriving at your destination before day´s end.”
Fast forward to November 21, 2013. Just after breakfast we met Gerado (Gerry), a farmer from the village of Candamena. Not only did Gerry give us what turned out to be spot on directions for the rest of the day, he also provided eerily accurate time estimates, terrain descriptions and invited us to stay at his farm next time we happened to find ourselves in the Candamena. Quite simply, the gold standard by which all future third world directional advice will be measured.
No Thanks, we´re Walking
During the final dirt road stretch into the spectacularly situated village of Uruachi, we were passed by nine vehicles over the course of a seven hour period. All but one of these cars and trucks stopped to ask if we were OK and if we wanted a ride. Although we declined all offers, both Justin and I couldn´t help but be struck by the genuine friendliness shown to us. In a region (i.e. northern Mexico) which receives almost exclusively negative international press due to drug and violence issues, the hospitality we were afforded during our time in the canyons was universally positive.