September 25th, 2003
In the morning we headed off to Guachochi. The city bills itself as the "Capital of the Sierra Tarahuma". Although it is the seat of the municipal government, the label is a bit misleading. There didn't appear to be any infrastructure for tourism, and we couldn’t find a single internet café for its students.
One of our reasons for visiting here was to view a waterfall that we had heard was right in the heart of town. Well, after driving around a bit, we found the center of town, but no waterfall. So we drove around some more and found a small river. We decided to follow it and it lead us to a small lake. On the other side of the lake was the waterfall, cascading into a canyon. Not exactly in the middle of town but we found it surprising that the city had this great feature and didn’t do anything to capitalize on it.
After stocking up on groceries and water, we headed off to a spot where we could view the Barranca Sinforosa and the Rio Verde. The various canyons that make up the Copper Canyon all have different names – and most of them are not the same as the name of the river that flows in them.
Upon departing Guachochi, we knew we were leaving pavement behind for the next 100 miles! We were about to find out that what is considered to be just a dirt road in this part of the world translates out to be a four wheel drive trail in the United States.
We arrived at the end of the side road to Sinforosa Overlook – and it felt like we had arrived at the end of the world. The view point at this location looks into Sinforosa Canyon down nearly 6000 feet to the Green River. For my money, the view was nearly as grand as the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
September 26 & 27, 2003
Today we explored the backroads, hoping that we could reach La Bufa or Batopilas by nightfall. We got to drive through several small rancheras populated by the Tarahumara and Mestizos.
As we drove, the quality of the road deteriorated until we were driving at the blistering speed of 5 miles per hour. We found the scenery outstanding and the small mountain villages of the Tarahumara amazing in their remoteness and their hardiness, but the road was atrocious!
Our maps showed that there was a "new" road that connected the towns of Yoquivo and Batopilas. When we stopped at a store in Yoquivo for tortillas, we asked the shopkeeper for directions to the new road. We were more than a little concerned when instead of an answer she just rolled her eyes! The next morning we found out why.
The "new" road was cut when the government brought modern electricity to Batopilas. The road was basically a powerline access trail. We also found that logging trucks were using this road to access the trees in the area. This wasn’t a problem until we found that the trucks just block the road and make all traffic try to get around.
Caught up in the excitement of trying to direct her, I forgot to photograph Kim as she drove the expedition vehicle up the hillside at an unbelievable angle to clear the logging truck by less than 2 inches!
September 28, 2003
Last night we made camp on the grounds of Alexander Shepard’s Hacienda San Miguel. During the final years of the 19th century Alexander Shepard controlled all the mining in Batopilas. The ruins of the Hacienda gave us a chance to imagine what life might have been like then. The mines produced over 20 million ounces of silver – this wealth allowed luxuries unheard of in Mexico. For instance, Batopilas was the second city in all of Mexico to get electricity.
The temperature here is very different from on top of the canyons where we have spent the past week. The temperature today was over 100ºF.