Back on dirt…

July 22, 2010

After spending the last few days in seemingly bustling towns, connected by quite bustling roads, we were most excited for the days ahead where we could get back on some dirt.  Our visit to Mata Ortiz proved uneventful because we got there just too early and nothing was really happening at that hour.  We proceeded on to climb the newly paved grade that officially put us up into the Sierra Madres, the mountain range running through the center of Mexico.  Not long after reaching the top, we encounter trucks of various natures, all poised to continue paving those dirt roads we all enjoy so much.  Happy to be back on dirt, we wound up and down through tiny mountain roads, twisting through quaint little villages and passing endless amounts of ranch animals.  The air was cool and crisp at this elevation, which made for some very enjoyable riding.  An added bonus to this dirt road in particular was the fact that there were rarely signs informing us of our whereabouts.  Every once in a while we would happen upon a legible sign, though usually it was directing us toward towns that were not on our map.  For two days we guessed our way through most forks in the road.  Eventually the road started to flatten out and began to show signs of life, mainly that of loggers and logging trucks.  We ended up popping out on a highway passing through the town of El Largo.  Turning left, we were back on pavement and continuing our ride up through a stunning canyon, where every twist and turn revealed another stunning detail of breathtaking landscape.

The next day brought more paved ups and downs, making it feel like a roller coaster ride at times.  We made a brief stop at Cascadia de Salta only to find that barely any water was running to make for a spectacular waterfall.  Next stop was Madera, where I learned that I cannot handle two large agua frescas back to back, no matter how thirsty I feel.  There we met Carlos and his son who very kindly invited us to stay with them for the night.  Anxious to continue on, we declined the offer but swapped a few travel stories before parting ways.  Carlos informed us it was “all downhill from here” and we set out again while the sun dropped down, soon finding our ranch land camp spot.  I should mention one of my favorite parts of the day is the camp spot hunt and set up.  We’ve been making a habit each night of getting settled in and enjoying some tea and biscuits while we start cooking dinner (read: biscuits… really just an adult attempt at saying cookies).  We’ve gotten quite attached to a brand called Maria’s.  They are nice and crunchy, hold their form when dunked in warm liquids, are not too sweet and cost around 6 pesos, or $0.50.

Heading up into the Sierra Madres...

After climbing the paved grade, the road turned back to dirt. It will make for easier travel for those heading to and from Nueve Casas Grandes and Madera by car. However, we were quite happy to catch it in the undone phase...

Some interesting rock formations we passed and maize, the most common crop found in these parts...

Adobe kilns. Many of the homes are built with bricks made in these...

At times the road was steep and very rocky, not very conducive to my wiggly form of bike riding...

Our chosen camp spot for the evening. The stream was tiny and quaint and allowed for a late afternoon dip. We enjoyed the spot, until...

...we had to make a mad dash for high ground. Due to the afternoon monsoon, the stream turned in to quite a flowing river, rising an unexpected foot. The night was an interesting one, as we watched the water rise and then fall, before rising furiously a second time. We eventually had to abandon the spot and throw all the gear and bikes up onto higher ground in attempts to get at least a little rest for the evening.

The next day brought a few river crossings...

Sometimes having to push...

One of the many unmarked forks we would encounter along the way...

Signs such as these did not help very much...

A sign like this would be extremely helpful, except the town names shown were not ones listed anywhere on our map...

Jaw and teeth of some unlikely wild(or maybe not so)life...

Mind if we play through?...

Again confronted with a late day monsoon...

...we spent the afternoon constructing a veranda for our tent and frying up some potatoes to go with our endless cups of tea. Thanks to some huge puddles nearby, water was far from scarce and we relaxed in our cozy fort the whole next morning while the rain continued on....

Freshly hatched, this butterfly would not leave Kurt. He went from his shorts to his finger, continuously flapping and drying his wings. He was reluctant to let go, but eventually we had to say goodbye and Kurt placed him on a log...

Unfortunate signs that we were getting close to something and someone somewhere...

Pumping water with a curious crowd...

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