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Upper Copper Canyon

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I left the tourist town of Creel with little knowledge of what I was getting myself in for (or little knowledge of a drug cartel related shooting overnight in town). Dark clouds threatened rain and the winds were less than favourable. Not everyday on the road is the stunning vistas you see in my photos or living the easy life.

I set forth towards the headwaters of the Copper Canyon, or Urique River to be more correct. Stunning rugged farmland kept me company, along with the constant local indigenous peoples, known as the Tarahumara. Strangely there were almost no vehicles on the road.

I made camp on the side of the road along a well used walking track that the locals used. Many walked passed me during the evening on their way to destinations unknown. None of them plucked up enough courage to wander close enough to inquire what this stranger was doing in their country. The rain that had been threatening all day gently fell on my tent as night fell.

I woke to yet more gentle rain. I enjoyed the peace inside my tent and quietly read a book waiting for the weather to clear. Late morning had me cycling through the steep inaccessible canyon lands. Despite its ruggedness people eked out a living in this strange but beautiful land.

As I reached the bottom of the canyon which I crossed on the bridge I could only imagine the possibilities. I imagined exploring this area on foot and with a small packraft. I could spend weeks or months in this area. The climb out of the canyon was a killer, as I expected. Some 1000 vertical meters of uphill had my legs screaming at me.

Don’t get me wrong I love a good hill climb but there are times I wish for a little less. But then again if this was easy everybody would be doing it. My rewards on the climb were the almost constant views. I stopped so many times to take photos and maybe catch my breath too. I was almost at the highest point, enjoying the view when a van pulled up. Tourists!  I hadn’t seen them for a long time. They recalled their journey, how they too hadn’t seen anybody. Their guide confirmed what I already knew, not many tourists.

I set off with a present of unwanted food from one of the passengers which loaded me with much needed calories. Before long the road became less scenic as it traversed uninspiring farmlands. I replenished my water and food at a small family run store in some unknown town before camping about 5km away. The night was cold but bearable.

I left camp only when it was warm enough for me to feel my hands. I stopped in the town of Guachochic. I considered staying the night and taking a visit to the nearby Sinforosa Canyon. As usual when I get to town I visited several stores to pick up supplies. One of the store owners gave me a little tourist trinket, a keyring in the shape of a pair of indigenous shoes.

I stopped for lunch at a restaurant and struck up another conversation with the local. The news I was told had me packing my bags and getting the hell out of town real quick! Things were not well in paradise!

  • Creel to Upper Copper Canyon = 50km
  • Upper Copper Canyon to near Arboreachi = 64km
  • Arboreachi to past Guachochi = 64km
17000km on the road right here
locals using the road as a footpath
bottom of upper copper canyon

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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24 thoughts on “Upper Copper Canyon”

  1. Beautiful photos of some amazing scenery. I’m always glad to see an update from you and know that you are safe. How’s the Spanish practice going?

    Reply
    • Thanks Heather. The Spanish is getting better everyday. Each day I learn a couple of new words and the grammar and use of tenses is getting better. Unfortunately to learn Spanish I have had to relearn English. I guess I’m able to communicate but far from what I would like

      Reply
    • I gained a lot of weight for the start of the trip so my weight is still normal. About 3-5kg more than when I finished the pct. My legs are also slowly building strength and muscle.

      Reply
  2. If the cartels need something to shoot, please have them go after those humongous hairy spiders you’ve shown in your photos … Jus sayin… Yikes!

    Reply

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