Treasure of Sierra Madre

Mexico's Copper Canyon - Hiking Tarahumara land
By Karen Schwartzman & Bob Melia; Copper Canyon Lodges assisted with this story.
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The day begins around 7:30, when hot chocolate is delivered to your room. After breakfast, the guests split up into small groups for hiking. Hikes are tailored to suit you -- easy half day jaunts with plenty of rest stops and photo opportunities, or rigorous all-day treks into areas rarely seen by Norteamericanos.

All of the hikes allow you to see life as it was a century ago. Less than thirty minutes from the lodge, we passed one ranchito where a family was scratching a living from the dry, stony soil. Up on the hillside, stone storage sheds held reserves of corn, beans and squash. As we continued through the valley, we passed young children returning from a spring with the family's daily water supply. High up on the ridge, wooden crosses marked burial sites.

Our trail twisted upward through pine forests and over rocky outcroppings. We passed empty caves where the Tarahumara live during the winter. After another hour of hiking, we heard the drums, which have religious significance for the Tarahumara. As if on cue, all of us stopped to listen to the hauntingly simple sound reverberating through the canyon. Continuing on, we crossed a mesa, and then, after a steep, 1,000-foot descent, we reached our goal -- the Basirecota Hot Springs. The springs were small; a few pools located on either side of the Rio Cusarare. Some were uncomfortably hot, but others were the perfect temperature to soak tired feet and aching muscles. As we rested for the hike back home, we marveled at the impossibly blue sky and imposing cliffs that overhung this little piece of heaven. Back home, Basirecota would surely be declared a national park. Here it was just one beautiful spot among many.

Published: 16 May 2003 | Last Updated: 5 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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