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I could just copy the Diaries for 18 March 2009. It would be much easier, as we’re on our second bottle of Norton Malbec at the Best Western in Creel.  I guess that I’ll just run through today’s program and put the 2009 stop numbers in brackets.

We managed an early get away, negotiating for a 7:00 breakfast (well 7:05, by the way that we rattled the door of Restaurant Los Pinos to alert the staff of their side of our agreement). We then thought that the Mexican road building system had performed miracles by putting down an almost brand new asphalt road to take us to the Baranca Sinforosa. We were well ahead of schedule, when the fun started. Eunice’s SatNav target was NOT the Baranca Sinforosa but a way point from her database, where a friend had made a stop last year. We drove on until we met a gang of workmen, continuing the road improvements and asked them if we were on the right way. Noooooooo! came the reply, the directions took us back all the way to our Hotel, in Guachochi!. But the track that we had followed from there last year had improved dramatically and there were now clear signposts to the Baranca, which offers one of the most spectacular views that I have seen. This time, I walked the complete edge of the view point holding the video camera to try to capture the spectacle.

But first we made a quick stop (S1871) at the point in Eunice’s Data Base (EDB) which had sent us 30 minutes in the wrong direction. No cacti or succulent plants were found, but the ground between the pine trees  was covered with a dwarf lupine: tall flower spikes but the leaves very close to the ground.

So S1872 (S1358 in 2009) was reached around 10:10. It was John’s first view of these Canyons and he agreed that they were very impressive. But I had taken all the pictures that I needed from here and I knew that a certain Mammillaria senilis was waiting for us at the suspension bridge that we could see some 1000 ft below us, 4 km along an impossible track. Where is Cliff when you need him to take control of the steering wheel? The alternative was simple: walk.

While Eunice stayed at the top, photographing her favourite Agaves. A. shrevei (?) NOT A. maximilliana as she had suggested last year A. wocomahi,  and (see
http://www.globetrotters.ch/botanik/pflanzen/botspezies_seite_en.asp?main=5070&menu=1&bgt=am&genus=AGAVE&gnr=110), John and I walked to the bridge. I explained how last year I had crossed this several times, just because I could, Eunice had crossed it once and chosen the alternative route back. John said he’d like to give it a try as at college he had taken an additional course in circus skills which involved tightrope exercises, for which he holds Diplomas!. It came useful during his Service years in the Navy where he was able to impress his colleagues with these skills. I would of course now show you pictures of John crossing this ravine balancing on the wires of the suspension bridge, instead of the meter wide planks that I had used, but he admitted that he had left his tight rope walking shoes at home, blaming me for not telling him to pack them!

The walk downhill was a reminder of the excellence of Cliff’s driving skills – I would not have dared to take our Jeep down here.   It made me also think about having to walk back up, around midday (Mad Dogs & Englishmen ……) 

S1873 (S1359), and I headed straight for the rock where I have a clear memory of M. senilis in flower. I must have taken some twenty pictures of the one plant to milk the subject in talks. Cliff and Alain had walked on and had found many more plants, here accompanied by large butterflies. I had told myself not to expect miracles. ‘My’ Mam. might no longer be there and some three weeks later in the season, would certainly have finished flowering. But maybe the Echinocereus scheerii, in bud then, might be in flower this time?  M. senilis was there exactly as expected, but with more flowers! More pictures were taken. The E. scheerii were again in bud, from memory less advanced then last year. So they must have had a cold long winter here too. We then walked on farther and found more M. senilis, but only one or two large swallow tail butterflies.

Soon it was time to start our climb back and I was really chuffed with myself as we managed the 4 km in just under an our, arriving back at the car 1 minute after noon.

We continued the rest of the day with ELO’s greatest hits on my juke box, just as in 2009. Cliff & Alain were here in spirit, if not in person.

S1874 was a leg stretch & comfort stop with again A. wocomahi and a small herbaceous plant photographed.

S1875 was for 26 images taken from the car of the breath taking scenery.

S1876 (!361 in 2009) was for Echinocereus scheerii and Echeveria craigiana, photographed in much better light this time.

The last stop of the day, S1877 was prompted by a suggested location from EDB, but at the coordinates suggested, we were looking at a 50 m drop along side the road. We expect that the explorers had taken an earlier track that ran parallel to the road, along a dry river valley. About 1 km farther along, we were able to join this track and soon had found the moss covered rocks that is the favoured habitat for E. scheerii and another Echeveria, E. chihuahuensis.

Another excellent day!

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