Copper Canyon Adventure – Part I

People’s Guide correspondent Mike Huckaby is an avid hiker who runs a guiding service in the Copper Canyon. This is the first installment in a three part series on Mike’s most recent canyon adventure.

by Mike Huckaby of Copper Canyon Trails

With freedom from the encumbrances of full-time employment, wanderlust bloomed like spring wildflowers, and a perfect alignment of the stars foretold another fun-filled hike along the trails of the Copper Canyon. I had bamboozled a couple who lived nearby to join in the adventure, and so far things were going like clockwork.

The 13 hour drive was completed in daylight, thanks to an obnoxiously early start. The Douglas/ Agua Prieta border crossing was effortless; relatively so, as foreign credit card charges can send up an inconvenient red flag. Our guide Jilo was even waiting at the hotel in Divisadero, but like all things Mexican, our intended start was delayed for a while. First, Jilo thought we were starting the following day. His wife was out of town, the kids were in school, and there was no firewood for the stove or groceries in the cupboard. Finally, poco a poco, Jilo got things got straightened out out. We started just a few hours late, but our guide said, “No problem, only four hours to the river.” The two Tarahumarans, Manuel and Geronimo, who showed up like magic to chop firewood, said, “Oh, no problem, four hours to the river.”

Finally, five hours later we stopped for water refills, and the river was less than two hours away. Except for the fact that sunset was fast approaching, we would have made it, too. Luckily, by now we were at another water stop; but this one was hot, steaming water coming from a volcanic vent. You could have filled a cup put against the cliff, and made a nice cup-of-soup. The richly mineralized water mixed with cool springs from higher up, and settled in comfortable little pools perfectly designed to massage screaming quads. A little spot, barely 10 feet by 12, was the only flat ground we had seen in quite a while. We cleared away the cow pies, and with a couple of vigilant dogs to keep it safe, slept soundly this first night out under the stars.