Today was the day I was heading to the canyon. My ambitious goal was to ride down into the canyon, spend the night, then ride out and head toward the west coast to see my friend. I wasn’t on a tight schedule (or any real schedule) but I do have a business to run and have to make an appearance at some point. Also the focus of my trip was to see my friend so I was already feeling a little rushed.
The main road into the canyon was only open at unknown intervals. I could risk the road down and if it was closed where the construction was going on there was a medical office there that would allow me to spend the night. With no sleeping bag, it might be a long night.
There is another option. Take a dirt road past San Rafael to Bahuichivo, then to Cerocanul and spend the night with the Munos brothers at a home on the rim, then ride down into the canyon to Urique. From there head west. Three Amigos and BoulderGuy
both recommended this route. The home on the rim is the Cabanas San Isidro Lodge and is basically staying with a typical local family from what I could gather. http://coppercanyonamigos.com/
There is only one catch. There is a high road and a low road that connect San Rafael with Bahuichivo. Both stressed taking the low road, which is a tiny dirt road that turns off the highway, is not marked and easy to miss. BoulderGuy
was even kind enough to send me some great and drawn maps with GPS coordinates for the turn off.
Can’t really screw this one up, can I? So I load all my stuff and head out.
The ride is a beautiful spanking new highway through some of the most wonderful scenery imaginable. I detour down one dirt road to see some attraction, get bored and head out.
And the Canyon is amazing!
I get to San Rafael and decide to grab a bite to eat.
This is one of those times when learning the language would have been a real bonus. I look over the menu and point to a picture of something that looks good. The lady smiles, nods her head and disappears in the back.
A few minutes later she reappears with a giant pack of what I guess is seasoning and starts asking me questions about it. Since the only thing I know less about than speaking Spanish is cooking, I am at a complete loss. She heads into the back and brings out a skillet of something they are cooking that looks like corned beef hash and I nod my head. So one item at a time, at 5 minute intervals, they bring a plate, tortillas, the stuff in a pan, some sauces, some other stuff. After 30 minutes I am waving my arms in surrender and they are still rounding up stuff to bring me. The table is covered. By the way, don’t pour on the green sauce – whoa, that stuff is not for the amateur.
The food is good, except for the green sauce, and I try to pay but have no idea how much. So I hold out a wad of bills and they pick through them and get paid and I threw in a generous tip and headed out.
I am still wondering what happened.
I cruise the highway keeping an eye out for the Low Road and end up at a giant road construction site that is obviously the beginning of the High Road. So I back track and finally find the Low Road, which kind of blends into the scenery.
I head down the Low Road for quite a few miles. It’s a nice ride, little bumpy with some washed out parts but nothing terrible. I come up on a truck in the road with some folks standing around, so I stop and ask “Bahuichivo?” just to make sure I am on the right road. Everybody in the group shakes their head and directs me back to the main highway and to the High Road where the construction is. They indicate it is passable on the motorcycle and better than this Low Road. Now I am wondering if I should follow the advice of the motorcycle community or the locals. One of the guys in the group is heading that way and wants me to follow him in his 4 wheel drive truck. Still unsure, I follow him to the High Road.
The road starts out really wet from the water trucks trying to keep the dust down in the construction area and it is slick. Really slick. All of the vehicles on the road are 4 wheel drive pickups and larger 4 wheel drive trucks and everybody is hauling ass. I am keeping up fine until we run into the dusty sections and then the road really starts winding up and down through the mountains. The ups and downs are kind of fun, but the curves are not. They obviously filled them in with deep layers of sand to smooth them out and while the trucks are blasting through the turns, coming and going, to maintain momentum, I am reduced to chugging along so I don’t end up as a fancy grill guard on one of these trucks. After about 8 miles the bike temp is creeping up and this route is just not working out for me, so I begrudgingly turn around and head back out.
By the time I get back to the Low Road I am worried about making it to the house on the rim before night fall, so I resign myself to heading back to Creel and saving the Canyon for another trip. I was way too optimistic on my time. The next trip to the Canyon will get a well deserved 4 or 5 days.
I am kind of bummed, but the scenery is so incredible that I enjoy the ride back to Creel, even if it was in temporary defeat.
In San Rafael I stop at a castle I saw on the way in and it is a gorgeous hotel. The owner gives me a tour and tells me how she and her brother built the place 26 years ago. I am going to have to stay here on my next trip to the Canyon. Hotel Mansion Tarahumara. http://www.hotelmansiontarahumara.com.mx/english/
I stopped at what I think was either Divisadero or Areponapuchi at a great overlook for the Canyon. The Tarahumara Indians were there selling their baskets and goods and before I could get off my bike, this tiny little girl had crossed the road and was selling her wares. I bought some stuff and checked out the incredible view. Up the hill was a complex of outdoor booths and I wandered up and had a late lunch. Another great meal.
This dog was trying its best to steal this little girl’s meal and she was equally as determined to keep it. Wish I had it on video.
Lots of Army guys out today and on the move. All of them waved and smiled.
Back to Creel and my old cabin. Check out the OSHA approved saw mill – lol.