Wednesday, 18 March 2009 – Guachochi to Creel
It was only 153 km from Guachochi to Creel, so there was plenty of time for a side trip, to the Barranca de Sinforosa. This is quoted as a major tourist attraction as it is the deepest Canyon on the North American Continent, with the floor 1,830 m (6,000 ft) below the rim. For such a potentially important attraction there were surprisingly few signs and out of town, the road soon turned into a poor dirt track. After some lucky guesses, we finally arrived at a gate with a sign to say the we had arrived, or rather, that we were now entering private land and had to pay admission to proceed with our car. The admission was the princely sum of 10 peso each, a little more than 70 pence (UK) or 80 cents (US) depending on how the markets have been behaving recently. Just follow the trail, we were told in Spanish. We did.
About 1 km / mile along the track we arrived at a car park, deserted, from where we could walk to a view point. (S1358). No shops, info stands, ice cream salesmen etc. just us and silence. As we walked to the edge of the mirador a scene unfolded that was absolutely amazing. Cliff and I have each visited the Grand Canyon and had been disappointed because the vista was just too large to absorb, too remote. This was much better. The only way to convey the impressiveness of this scenery is to make you wait for pictures and film clips when I get home. For readers in the USA, just ask Eunice to do a presentation of her Mexico 2009 trip. No, I’m not on commission. Plants photographed included Agave sp. (maximilliana?), Dasylirion wheeleri, Opuntia sp. (boring).
After we had taken our pictures and movie clips, we considered the track to the waterfall, the Cascade de Rosalinda – 4×4 WD vehicles only, it said. 4 km away. Cliff took over the steering wheel as my back is still touchy and a sudden jolt might have caused a jar that makes controlling a car an extra unnecessary challenge. Good choice, as for Chile travellers, this track equalled those up the Cerro Perales near Taltal or ‘Horror Hill’ near Caldera. We made it to a small car park (S1359) (also deserted) with a suspension foot bridge hanging over a narrow canyon with a 100 ft drop offering a view of the waterfall. This could be spectacular in the rainy season, but that is in Summer, so we just had a small trickle to admire. I crossed the bridge twice, in both directions while the others went plant hunting upstream. Having moved back some more ‘barriers of fear’ – a few of the planks of the bridge were missing, others were broken and if you moved too fast, the bridge started swinging – I joined in with the plant hunt. Cliff and Alain had already found a rock with cacti: Opuntia sp. (boring), Echinocereus scheerii and Mammillaria (Mammillopsis) senilis, in flower! This was a great find and while the others carried on their plant hunt, I climbed over this rock and took pictures of the (few) plants there from every conceivable angle. It turned out that I should have gone with them as they found more M. senilis, a multi headed plant with several flowers and apparently visited by butterflies. I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I bet that they are out of this world!
It was about 13:00 when we left, still with some 170 km to drive to Creel. The MEX 25 (shown as MEX 23 on our maps) was a very good tarmac road with very few cars, so the only thing to slow us down were the spectacular views that appeared around every other corner. These pictures and a few taken at a couple of brief leg stretch stops are recorded as S1360 and included Agave sp. (shrevei ssp. magna ?) and A. filifera ssp. multifilifera (= A. leopoldii).
S1361 was at km 143, although the 4 was missing from the sign, but it was still possible to see where the stencil had been. This was a location suggested by Werner Rischer’s Chihuahua book as a location for Echinocereus scheerii and it did not take long, walking up a side track, before we had found the plants. As at the waterfall, these rocks were covered with patches of moss and it seemed that these locations were favoured by cacti and other succulents such as Echeveria sp. (E. craigiana?), tiny plants growing between the moss and the leaf litter that had been caught by them. There were a number of young seedlings from both plants here. Unfortunately the light between the hills was now too poor for photography, so time to push on.
Another excellent day plant and scenery wise.