|Caballo Blanco & Odin taking a quick break on Day 3.|
Blessed with some serious good luck, I experienced the most incredible hike of my life in la Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) in Mexico with this amazing man.
|El Paraiso del Oso|
The owner, Doug, paid me a stipend to be a resident English speaker during the summer off-season when he was away from the lodge. I assisted as a guide on horse-packing and backpacking trips with mainly European tourists into the Urique Canyon. (Bonus: I also learned Mexican-mountain-style Spanish and got to hike with my dog, Odin, every day in the wilderness basically following butterflies and bouldering. One time I even found the coolest natural rock water slide tucked in between the madrones and pines that was about 100 feet long..
but I digress....
One August night, Caballo Blanco and his friend, Jay showed up at El Paraiso. Caballo lived in the Copper Canyon every winter and ran hundreds of miles through the mountains (which is how he got the name Caballo Blanco). The native Tarahumara also run hundreds of miles through these mountains. That's just what they do. To subsist, Caballo guided tourists through the canyons--but not just any tourists, he told me. No whiners.
Caballo and his friend were embarking on a 3 day, 50 mile hike into the Urique Canyon, back up the other side and then down into Batopilas canyon. Caballo suggested that I join them, and Doug (who knew him) said to go for it, so I did. The next morning, I headed out with a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, a water bottle, my Teva sandals, a back-up crappy pair of low-hikers and socks, a Ridge Rest foam pad and an old flat sheet for sleeping, a sun hat and some sort of camera. Maybe I had an extra shirt and pair of long pants? No joke, that's all. That's just how I roll. (Ahem....or used to....before kids. Oh, how I miss feeling that free...)
The first day we hiked 23+ miles into the Urique canyon, first climbing 1600 feet in elevation and then descending 6000 feet through pine forest and down into lush subtropical land with macaws and mango trees. My Teva straps blew out in the mud on the way down, so I switched to the really old, cheap hiking shoes. We cooled off in swimming holes and Caballo taught me how to run efficiently down hill through the trails.
About seven hours later we were in the town of Urique and found a room to share at the Hotel Canon Urique followed by dinner and Tecate at Mama Tita's. We sat in the picturesque courtyard of Tita's home and restaurant while she whipped up fresh salsa, frijoles and other deliciousness. That night, I lay in bed with my legs up the wall-- my feet swollen and throbbing.
To be continued....
Next up: We head out for an easy, 8 mile day--although straight up. ...and then Odin takes out a baby goat.
* Born to Run is such a good book, by the way. I don't think you have to love running to like it. In fact, Jason despised running until he read the book.
**When I moved there, I actually drove in from the north-- but I wouldn't advise it (think flash floods, winding, dirt mountain roads and drug cartels)! That's a story for another time.