We left Xilitla late in the afternoon and began snaking along the beautiful but tight and narrow Sierra Madre road.  It was but an hour before dusk started to descend and we found ourselves caught in quite a rainstorm.  After about 30 minutes of riding with no hope of turning off onto anything to camp, we came upon a small house gracing the entrance to what seemed to be a corral and pasture area.  Hoping to just get off the road, we approached the front door to ask the owner’s if we could pitch our tent in the plot of grass out front.  When we did ask the farmer, who was still dressed in his work garb, rain gear and some sweet gleaming white Air Nikes, without hesitation he showed us to a separate building in the back.  Not only were we now out of the rain and off the road, but we had our own cozy room complete with a bed and electricity, more than we could have ever asked for.  We spent a nice warm and dry night in the place and the next morning were invited to stay as long as we wanted before the farmer took off for work.  Talk about hospitality!

The ride over the next few days was up, up, up.  Climbing for full days without end.  The scenery in turn was unbeatable and looking back down after every twist and turn proved to be a reward each time.  After two more days we found ourselves with the long-awaited descent down out of the Sierra Gorda park and after another two full days we found ourselves facing the giant walls of a box canyon.  It was a pleasant ride up and out and before long we were camped listening to the late night whistles of passing trains and preparing ourselves for San Miguel De Allende which awaited some 30 kilometers away.

 

Our dry spot for the evening...

 

 

The Reserva de la Biosphera Sierra Gorda. Over 90% of the region is privately owned. Grassroots efforts by the locals led to the reserves establishment in 1997 and many of its communities are involved first hand in its sustainability...

 

 

Up at this altitude, the area was densely forested with much old growth...

 

 

Much of this area resides within a cloud forest for most of the day, covered in orchids and teeming with exotic birds...

 

 

Another excellent thing coinciding with our ride through the area... my reading of an ancient copy of White Fang. There was no actual publication date in the book, but there was a note scribbled by a gifter which was dated 1910. All the pages were still intact and it was as great of a read as all the times I've read it before...

 

 

One of our descents down into a high mountain valley, the town of Ahuacatlan de Guadalupe seen in the distance...

 

 

A good example of how sometimes when you've seen one, you've seen them all...

 

 

And then there was the grand descent down out of the range. From those clouds whence we came...

 

Brightly colored downtown San Miguel Palmas...

 

 

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After much rest and relaxation (and bellies full of all sorts of goodness!) we are back on the road and heading towards New Mexico!  We spent a few days in Flagstaff organizing gear, picking up odds and ends and hanging out with my pal Shark.  HUGE THANKS to Shark for the sleep spots, fantastic meals and great, great company.  Can’t wait to see you on the road Shark!  We took off late Sunday night, just as the 3rd fire in 2 days started to spread down from the San Francisco Peaks.  Now we are back to our leisure days of riding from fantastic campsite to fantastic campsite, stopping as much as we’d like to eat our various sandwich combinations, dip our toes in the streams and answer the friendly questions that come from folks we pass by.  We’ll be crossing into New Mexico tomorrow, with our next big stop being PIE TOWN!

Shark kickin' it couchside with Buddrah and Riley. Missing from photo.. Ava, the other furry friend we got to spend some time with.

Just one of the many amazing meals we devoured thanks to Shark. Later in the day there were tongue tacos that couldn't be beat.

Shark juicing it up at the Flagstaff Farmer's Market...

Oh-my-goodness! Fresh squeezed cucumber lemonade and watermelon juice...

Kurt showing exactly how good those juices are...

The view of the fire that had broke out amidst the peaks just as we started to head out.

The view of the fire spreading from about 25 miles away. As far as I know, it is unfortunately not completely contained.

Morning breakfast (a nice break from the usual oatmeal I might add)...

A typical northern Arizona forest landscape, after much hard work by the forest service to weed out the under brush and complete controlled burns. Keeping the land like this is one major defense against forest fires.

After a good bit of climbing, we were rewarded with this epic descent into Strawberry, and then further into Pine.

Hurray for Highway 64, a 24 mile dirt road that connected two other major highways. This was my longest off-road experience and I am completely hooked. The scenery absolutely cannot be beat, and the no car thing really makes this way of travel a shoe in.