Canyon Journal 2 The First Crossing
Our first trip to Copper Canyon brought us to places we had never heard of before -- Humira, Samachique, Batopilas, Satevo. These were stops on a burro trail turned questionable auto route that took us deep into the Barranca de Batopilas, one of a series of almost impenetrable canyons in southern Chihuahua. We learned of another, still deeper, the Barranca de Urique, which concealed a little village at the bottom. As near as we could tell, the two canyons were separated by a high ridge of ancient rock and soil, remains of the Sierra Madre not yet washed into the Pacific Ocean. A few Tarahumaras and Mexicans lived there, raising corn and vivid fields of green crops, said to be avoided, near "abandoned" airstrips, also to be avoided. We decided to go there and cross the two canyons, traversing the ridge between the villages by any possible means -- truck, bus or burro -- but mostly, we were prepared to walk.
Michael and I had been defeated and turned back on a high desert trail during the previous summer in southern Arizona. We looked for just such a challenge, the deepest canyon in North America, to regain our dignity. Since we had no real idea what we were getting into, we recruited two friends, Kilian and Troy, who were at least flexible enough to leave the country during Christmas vacation and travel to an unknown destination without asking questions. There would not be topo maps or trail markers to guide us -- just a crude sketch with some dots beside Indian place names. We voted on artificial flavors of Raman, divvied up the camping gear and set course for Mexico. CONTINUE