Copper Canyon Journal

Sept 17

Sept 20

Sept 22

Sept 23

Sept 24

Sept 25

Sept 26 & 27

Sept 28

Sept 28 (con't)

Sept 29

October 1

October 2

October 3

October 4 & 5

October 6

September 23, 2003

After spending the night in the rain at Lake Arereko, we awoke to clearing skies. Heartened by the sunshine, we hiked around this 40-hectare, man-made lake that is surrounded by pine tress and rocks. The water was about ten feet below the high water line due to many recent years of drought.

After enjoying the lake, we visited the 400-year-old, San Ignacio Mission, built by the Jesuits.  The interior was very plain with hand-hewn benches lining the walls.  Repairs were underway to the bases of the interior walls and I imagine repairs are constantly being made. San Ignacio Mission.jpg (29436 bytes)

After leaving the church, we headed out to the "Valley of the Monks".  On the drive there we were privileged to drive through the Tarahumara community of Arereko. The area was a valley between rolling hills covered with cornfields and wildflowers. Colorfully dressed women worked in the fields and the men toiled along the roads with cows or goats.  After working in the fields in the morning, children attended school in the afternoon. 

tarahumara house and cave.jpg (63991 bytes)

The homes were mostly log cabins, but we did see some structures in caves. They looked like they were mostly for storage and animals, but we did see one that for sure housed a family.

We may not always have a photo to show you what we describe because these people are very private and don’t always want to be photographed. To do so would be an intrusion and it is important to respect their wishes.

Finally arriving at the "Valley of Monks", we crossed over a small stream and parked the expedition vehicle. The valley gets its name from the rock formations that look like groups of praying monks. You can use your own imagination. We thoroughly enjoyed our hike through this geologically fascinating area.

monk pan2.jpg (57256 bytes)

Leaving Arereko we headed back to Creel for some grocery and internet duties. Finished with that we headed toward Cusarare where we spent the night alongside a stream. Before setting up however, we asked permission from the Tarahumara owner when she came by herding her cows toward home at the end of the day.  I had a very nice conversation with her in my broken Spanish.  She was telling me how much work it was taking her ten cows each day to find forage.  We were very appreciative when she granted us permission to camp on her land.

September 24

Our night was probably the quietest of our whole trip. No barking dogs and not much traffic going by. This morning we got up and saw a huge Great Blue Heron fishing in the creek we were camped beside. That was really special.

After leaving our wonderful campsite, we headed to the Cusarare Cascade. This waterfall was a 3kim (1.85mi) hike through pine trees and along the river. Cusarare, which means "Place of Eagles" in Raramuri, has developed their own eco-tourism program in conjunction with the state government. (See Ethnic-Tourism section)

The waterfall was lovely and we bought a couple of nice woven baskets from some Tarahumara ladies along the trail.

tarahumara woman.jpg (65673 bytes)

After the cascade, we headed to the Cusarare mission which dates back to the 17th century. The interior was beautifully decorated with Tarahumara designs and hand-hewn beams and floorboards.

cusarare mission pan.jpg (39749 bytes)

We continued down the road toward Guachochi where we will visit tomorrow.  As the afternoon got late, we started our daily routine of looking for a camp spot. Generally we look for a small side road where we can set up camp out of view of the main road. 

We’re often lucky enough to find a spot next to a small creek. If any Tarahumara come by – usually herding their goats or cows, we ask for permission to camp. The people enjoy talking with us and checking out our expedition vehicle.