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sinforosa

We set out from Guachochi towards Sinforosa Canyon on foot and cover the 20 odd kilometres in a few hours with the help of a couple of lifts from locals in the back of pickup trucks.

We arrive at the canyon lookout late in the afternoon and check out the scene.

We arrive at the canyon lookout late in the afternoon and check out the scene.

The lookout affords a good view of the trail we will follow to the bottom of the canyon.

The lookout affords a good view of the trail we will follow to the bottom of the canyon.

We hike down to a suspension bridge that marks the end of vehicle roads and camp for the night in a structure that was clearly built with a bigger tourist population in mind than is evident. We see no-one.

In the morning we set off, in earnest.

Missing planks make the bridge slightly disconcerting.

Missing planks make the suspension bridge slightly disconcerting.

Jason tackling the suspension bridge.

Jason tackles it rather nervously ...

...followed by Jeff.

...followed by Jeff.

Our walk starts out in pine forest - over half the world

Our walk starts out in pine forest - over half the world's pine species are found in the Copper Canyon area.

We start to descend into a magic realm.

But soon we start to descend into a magic realm of rivers, waterfalls, cactus and succulents.

Clear, cold water running over smooth rock.

Clear, cold water runs over smooth rock...

...collecting in freezing cold pools.

...collecting in freezing cold pools.

We head along an exposed walking trail that is the route of an annual 100 kilometre marathon run.

We head along an exposed walking trail that forms part of the route of an annual 100 kilometre marathon run.

I'd prefer to take it at a more sedate pace.

I'd prefer to take it at a more sedate pace, myself. (Photo: Jeff Volk)

Plants cling to sheer walls...

Plants cling to sheer rock walls...

...or squeeze themselves into the smallest of gaps...

...or squeeze themselves into the smallest of gaps...

...

A venerable fig tree wrapping itself lovingly around a boulder.

Days are short in the canyon but it is far warmer here than up above. Snow is predicted to fall in Guachochi over the next few days.

Days are short in the canyon but it is far warmer here than up above. Snow is predicted to fall in Guachochi over the next few days and clouds whizz by overhead.

We set up camp while we are still descending a side canyon.

We bed down with the local wildlife.

We bed down, without the benefit of a tent, with the local wildlife.

I wake with nothing but the sky above me.

I wake with nothing much but the sky above me...

...surrounded by towering rock walls.

...surrounded by towering rock walls.

Breakfast over the embers of last night s campfire...

Breakfast over the embers of last night's campfire...

...while the sewing project continues.

...while the sewing project continues.

More intriguing vegetation appears.

Once we get underway and continue walking more...

More

...and more intriguing vegetation appears...

...along with the odd sleepy cow.

...along with the odd sleepy cow.

The stream offers the unexpected gift of fresh water cress...

The stream offers the unexpected gift of fresh water cress...

...which we harvest enthusiastically.

...which we harvest enthusiastically...

...before continuing through the tangled cactus.

...before continuing through the tangled cactus.

Cactus and tree, inter-twined.

Cactus and tree, intertwined.

We finally reach the main canyon...

We finally reach the main canyon...

...where we meet a group of four, fishing,...

...where we meet a group of four locals, fishing.

They are the first people we have seen in a couple of days.

They are the first people we have seen in a couple of days.

We walk down river, crossing the tributary stream we have been following. The stream crossing results in a bit of impromptu bridge building.

We walk down river, crossing the tributary stream we have been following. The stream crossing results in a bit of impromptu bridge building...

As dusk falls, we ford the main river to reach a beach with some sheltering rocks on the other side where we set up camp.

...and as dusk falls and storm clouds gather, we ford the main river to reach a beach with some sheltering rocks on the other side where we set up camp.

The campfire...

The campfire...

...attracts some strange visitors.

...attracts some strange visitors.

Another day starts slowly...

Another day starts slowly...

...

...which we use to explore up river. (Photo: Jeff Volk)

...which we use to explore up river.

We harvest some prickly pears to supplement our food supply with yet more wildfood.

The terrain is quite rough...

The terrain is quite rough and contains various hazards...

... I end up in the water four times. Twice by choice - and twice by accident. I return to camp at dark frozen to the bone.

... I end up in the water four times; twice by choice - and twice by accident. The water is icy and it's a cool day so by the time I return to camp at dark, in wet clothes, I am frozen to the bone. (Photo: Jeff Volk)

Another day at the beach cave camp...

We start another day relaxing in the sun at our beach camp...

...before setting off down river to find our way back out of the canyon. We pass the ruins of homesteads...

...before setting off down river to find our way back out of the canyon. We pass the ruins of homesteads...

...and even more terrifying suspension bridges.

...and even more terrifying suspension bridges - which thankfully we don't have to cross...

We finally, and somewhat reluctantly, climb back out of the canyon and back to the lookout at the top.

...before we finally, and somewhat reluctantly, climb back out of the canyon and back to the lookout at the top. (Photo: Jeff Volk)

{ 5 } Comments

  1. Harold | February 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    both online again – safe travels and happy chinese new year. Year of the Tiger!

  2. Kat | February 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    hey, wonderful, wonderful!
    And inspiring. I am still teetering on the edge of freeing myself from job and mortgage… perhaps I will join you…
    Happy travels
    Kat
    PS love the pink socks :)

  3. Neal Cassidy | March 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Those are beautiful pics which brought back great memories!

    In October 2008, my companions and I did a descent of the Urique Canyon to the Sausal gold mine. Following a return from El Fuerte to Creel via the Chepe RR, we arrived at the Sinforosa overlook. One look at the sinuous trail descending into the depths and I knew I had to go down there.

    I only had a crude road map which indicated a road crossing many miles downstream, but I reckoned that I could make it somehow with the four days’s worth of food I carried. My camera battery died on the steep descent to the Rio Verde, so it was great to see your pictures of all those magical sights.

    I made my way down river following foot trails that occasionally disappeared, forcing me into thick brush, over boulders, and across rough scree slopes. By the second day, the canyon sides became so steep that I was forced to swim long stretches. By inflating the dry bag inside my pack and using it as a flotation device, I made better time than fighting my way along the shore.

    I saw a few people each day – cowherds, fishermen, Rarámuri men and women – but overall, I had an incredible feeling of solitude in the depths of an inaccessible wilderness. Every evening, I made camp on a sandy beach. I scratched my name, the date, and an arrow pointing downriver, in case I didn’t make it out and someone came looking, then I dozed off beside a driftwood fire.

    Late in the afternoon of the fourth day, I spotted a bridge crossing in what turned out to be the hamlet of Rio Guerachi. Just as I was about to settle on the bank for a final evening, a lone car rumbled toward me, and I caught a ride out of the magical canyon and back to Guachochi. And just in time, as I discovered in the car that I had punctured my dry bag, and all my gear was sopping wet. In the hotel in Guachochi that evening, every scrap of clothing and every peso were hung on lines to dry!

    I’m dreaming of a return trip, perhaps going all the way to the confluence of the river from Batopilas.

  4. anna | March 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    thanks neal for sharing your adventure. sounds great. i dream of return, also

  5. Will Kemp | April 3, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    the tree with fluff cotton wool on it looks like kapok. if it’s like the australian native kapok, the flowers are good to eat.

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