ANIL MITRA, 1979-1982, REFORMATTED February 2013


Document status: February 11, 2013

Active. Independent document. No further action for Journey in Being


Purpose  2

Metaphor for living, relationship to the universe  3

Enjoyment of the moment 4

What is real, beautiful and true  9

A beautiful community  10

Barranca del Cobre: A description  17

Wild places: Barranca del Cobre is the source of things  18


BARRANCA DEL COBRE March 7-March 17, 1980


Johnson City


Fort Stockton


Fort Stockton

Ozona [truck stop]

Elementary Phrases

Where is the railroad station?

¿Donde esta la estación de ferrocarril?

Where is the [central] bus station?

¿Donde esta la estación la [central] camionera?

Where is a restaurant?

¿Donde esta un restaurant?

Where is a doctor?

¿Donde esta un doctor?

I am feeling sick.

Estoy enfermo.

Where is the road to Batopilas?

¿Donde esta el camino a Batopilas?

Where can I find water?

¿Donde encuentra agua?

Friday, March 7 – 1980


I undertake this trip because I want to reflect on meaning and purpose; also to become more familiar with Barranca del Cobre – Tarahumara Indian Country

Our plan is as follows:

Today ~11:00 AM: Jim Southard and I leave for Presidio

Saturday, March 8: Cross border to Ojinaga – bus to Chihuahua. Leave for the Barranca area of the Sierra Madre Occidental by night train on Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad

Sunday, March 9: Alight – Bahuichivo. Truck to Urique

Monday, March 10: Leave Urique for Batopilas on trail. Spend 4 days arriving Batopilas on Thurday evening

Friday, March 14: Mail truck from Batophilas for Creel. Train for Chihuahua. Night in Chihuahua

Saturday, March 15: Bus: Chihuahua – Ojinaga

Sunday, March 16: Presidio – Austin

Friday, March 7

Left Austin at 1:00 PM – took the “northern” route 290/Interstate 10: Fredericksburg – Junction – Sonora – Ozona – Sheffield – Fort Stockton – Alpine – Marfa – Presidio. Camped by roadside 22 m from Presidio after a supper at Ft Stockton: homemade minestrone


In the morning we can see that the scenery North of Presidio is pretty. Dry arid hills – cool grey sky. Breakfast at Presidio. Some minor irritation today: missed the 10:30 bus for Chihuahua, went to the wrong bus stop. At Chihuahua we found that there is no train for the Copper Canyon area [the Chihuahua-Pacific line]. The night train leaves only on Tuesday and Friday. Next train is tomorrow a.m. at 8:20. Walking around Chihuahua, I find that my Korean-made “Jungle Boots” are in no way fit for hiking. The uneven ridges against the soles of my feet, due to poor craftsmanship, have developed some tender spots. This even though, after paring my calluses, I’d found them comfortable in Austin. This reinforces the need to try out shoes before a long hike. Bought some padding for my feet soles: no real help – the shoes are now too tight. Bought a pair of tennis shoes: with socks, rubber pads, they seem comfortable. Hope they will hold out. Spent the night in the Reforma hotel and supper in the Mi Café in the same building. Very good supper of Enchilada de Pollo. This was the restaurant at which we had breakfast a year ago with spring [March] of 1979; this is just off Ocampo at Victoria

This was written in our room in the Hotel Reforma, just before going to bed


Rose ~ 5 AM, coffee brewed in room, off to station. A number of people from the U.S. in the ticket office. Unfortunately we bought tickets for the Primera Especial class which cost us $160 p apiece instead of the Primera General at half the price. Had an anxious breakfast at 8:00 AM in the “Menuderia” outside the Estación for $25 p each. Good, but the meat was hog entrails – mildly unpleasant thought. [Am writing this Monday – just stopped to sit back a moment overlooking the Barranca de Urique which we have not arrived at: overlook]. The train journey – Chihuahua-La Junta-Creel-Pitorreal-El Divisadero-La Laja-Bahuichivo – involved some uncertainty with regard to time of arrival at Bahiuchiro. We were told 3:00 PM; actually ~5:00 PM. Took photographs from the train, especially just north of Creel, getting more south and especially in the Pitorreal-El Divisadero-Porada Barrancas-Bahuichivo section. Many tunnels and many canyon overlooks. Made brief acquaintance of a “couple” from Santa Fe – they plan to do the difficult climb down from ~ Porada Barrancas. Now at Bahuichivo we were asked $3000 p for a ride to Urique. We took on the Hotel la Mission ~ 17km at CERO CAHIC for $50 p each. At Cerochic we met the lady who had served us coffee in Deciembre. Photographed her, presented her compliments from people on the previous outing and told her her coffee is the best in Mexico. We then started to hike toward Urique, hoping for a truck but not that night. Camped at a spot overlooking Cerochic – idyllic


Metaphor for living, relationship to the universe

Continued hike [hitch] to Urique. Pickup picked us halfway – to Urique cabin canyons [Cabinas de Barranca de Urique at La Mera de Arturo]. Coffee in dining room [$1850 p for three days – meals, lodging, transportation from Bahuichivo]. Now just beyond here, another truck – open – to the overlook of the Urique Canyon. This is [and agreed upon by friends], perhaps, the most beautiful part of the journey. A reason for tears, joy, and life. But this is unfair to the beauty and the life of the other parts of Barranca del Cobre and elsewhere. Here, though, driving down the tortuous, winding Camino de Barranca, we enter the top of the Urique valley: great, mighty cliffs reaching down toward the center of the earth. This is where, in December, I thought “here is home”. Now I sit, overlooking the Urique Canyon: there is the winding river, the great Urique – the source of life, the center of this universe. This afternoon Jim and I will walk and ride down into that sunlit, hazy valley. It is good that I came despite hesitation

In the evening, yesterday, I had a thought. To live here some possibilities are: driving a truck, living with a native woman, raising goats, trading, mining. Another possibility is anthropology. Money?

No truck has come by for ~hour. Should we walk – we can probably get there by nightfall

My boots are now in Los Mochis – on the train. Forgot to take them off the train. Hope the tennis shoes work. I’d meant to use the boots as back up

Yes – to my surprise we climbed down to Urique today. We first saw it from a great distance – a row of houses along the river. For an interminable period it remained tiny and then when it began to grow and Jim said, “It’s still a heck of a way down there,” it was suddenly upon us. I immediately had two cokes and a pineapple drink. We were tired, dusty, sweaty. Met Thomas who runs a private school in Urique – subsidized by the local landowners. He has built his own house, has a fine garden, speaks Spanish fluently, and once in a while serves as doctor – the last doctor, a woman of 23, died when the bus fell over the cliff while driving to Urique. We had supper at the Restaurant Urique run by Ana Ramirez, Dom. Con., Urique Chihuahua. Two photographs of the family and friends. Bathed in the Urique. Stepped on a black scorpion while sipping tea in Thomas’ kitchen


Enjoyment of the moment

Am sitting here at the “2nd day” camp site of the January visit. Surrounded by hills and barrancas. Each “mountain” has its own character, each seems like an old friend. There’s one – a row of sheer fissured rock, challenging, majestic; another – a massive dome solemn, dignified; ones in the distance beckoning. There is a small hill behind me – I just climbed it and came down. What an effort to move my puny weight up and down. The Rio Urique has carved a weight of earth 1014 times more. Powerful. There’s a feeling of power, too, in hiking through the canyon. I never had thought until recently that I was yet able to do it without guidance. Of course we ask the locals for help, but their descriptions are not better than my own sense. It is true, though, that this is a repeat of the Winter trip. Next time here, with more time, I will wander around finding “my own” way. The village just south of Urique is Guapaleyna

Wednesday, March 12

What tender shades of deep and light blues this morning. This is earth at her sweetest and most tender, most soft. Rose this morning in the Rio Urique valley, just next to the river to the light of a silver crescent moon and then a tinge, a rim, of silver deep blue surrounding the bowl of ridges with deepest blue above. Now at 7:45 light blue, wisps of clouds the high ridges lit by the sun – it is still cool light breezes pass by and the Urique flows on. We will do some climbing today

Thursday, March 13

Jesus – we did do some climbing

…up and down. Lost trail a couple of times. But no major incident. Had “brunch” at a “Rancho”. Tortillas y con tomate tefritos con queso y cafe. Two mujeres [Señoras] living together with an assortment of children – one seen sucking a pretty and unselfconscious breast – and an apparently itinerant Señor. Did not take exactly the same route as in Deciembre, but approximately. We passed the finger at which we had camped in Deciembre: we camped farther up – not so congenial but o.k. At night a ring of fires in a notch. This morning met three men – shared mescal and M&Ms. Hard climb – came to spot recognized as “fourth campsite” POTRE ITO, perhaps. Water. Visited home – turned out the three men lived there. Coffee with goat milk and tortillas. Had to force 10 pesos as payment. Apparently some Tarahumara live in this vicinity. From no on the way should be as it was in Deciembre

It was: this is a lot of walking to have done in one day: a quarter of the climb and all the way down. Really beat at the end. Discovered, unfortunately, at the Hotel Clarita that Ratso [Carlos] had died since December: burnt in an accidental gasoline explosion while selling the fluid. Disappointed and sorry. The saxophone player [name unknown] from the band now apparently runs the Hotel. Had supper at a family establishment. Shared a table first with two young men, then a young man and woman. The woman, who had seen me earlier as we hiked in, said, “You have beautiful legs” – in Batopilas. Was not able to sleep later on account of two 16 oz cokes and two strong cups of coffee

Further possibilities for living are: medicine, teaching, and on a Rancho, in addition to goats: cows, chicken, maize, tomatoes, etc., perhaps. Divide living between the high lands [mesa] in summer, gorges, villages in winter?

Friday, March 14

Truck ride into Creel: 100p. Both the Batopilas and Urique Canyons were astounding. The narrow deep gorges just north of Urique River bridge !!! Scenery goes by just too fast to appreciate. Unfortunately the camera was misfunctioning – I saved some film for this truck ride

At Creel. Met Carlos Ruiz, the mining engineer, at the La Calaña… hotel. Exchanged news and addresses

Bought two books at the Tarahumara Mission store on the Tarahumara: Pennington, and the other by Kennedy. Nurse running the store from Louisiana. Very attractive: did not get to enquire name. Mission run by Padre Luis G. Verplancken, Ap. Do. #11, Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico

Missed the train out of Creel on account of Jim’s faulty watch. Night at Hotel Korachi

A number of backpackers at the Hotel. One from a prep school in Arizona spent eleven days in the upper Urique. Another from Colorado-New Mexico will hike from Batopilas to Urique. These people seem to know much more about the area than I

Batopilas and Urique Canyons

The road from Batopilas climbs up the Batopilas Canyon to the central inter-canyon highlands across the Urique Canyon and on to Creel. The Barrancas of the Batopilas are impressive and beautiful, but those of the Urique are even more so. [Apologies.]


Instead of the usual train, we took a bus: Creel – La Junta – Chihuahua. Beautiful Creel – La Junta section. Great restaurant at La Junta. Chihuahua at 4:00 PM. Bus to Ojinaga. Drive through the night to Austin. I drove all the way

Illustration 1: Family Group

march 1979

This Copper Canyon trip was good. I think I should live there. Take a Tarahumara as a wife and live – and die. The Canyon rim is at an elevation of about 8000 feet and the Urique River is some 6000 feet below. This is at the northern reaches of the Urique Canyon where we went

Figure: Curved reach of Urique River – hike entry point from Pitorreal, downriver, leaving point at Divisadero

We went down from Pitorreal, south of Creel, down the Canyon walls by little brown Indian trails. Our guide Larry Humphreys has down some exploring of the area and knows it quite well, which is fortunate since there are no proper maps of the area. The first day was somewhat miserable – rain, mist, clouds, and yet the beauty was apparent. We camped at a magnificent place looking down into the Canyon looking across the Canyon through wisps of cloud at the Great Gorges of the Urique. This great space was filled with the echo of the Indian drum. It continued to rain and we collected water from puddles. We pitched camp and while under the tarp discussing outdoor ethics – aesthetics and sanitation, Larry began a healthy farting competition which was to end with a grand finale provided by Michael and me five days later as we climbed out of the Canyon to Divisadero area

Let me now introduce the people on this expedition. Michael Moore – lean and agile. That first night Michael and I slept in caves about 50 feet below the camp. Billy Moore – easy going, and his wife Becky who seemed a little less easy-going. Dalney Wilson – initially tight-lipped but friendly as familiarity with the people increased. Paul Reevely – good guy with sense of humor. Larry Humphreys – a character, good outdoorsman, and man with a vision – of what?


The second day we continued down descending in brilliant sunshine which remained for the rest of the trip – at day. We passed a Copper Mine – abandoned. At mid afternoon we reached the river. Swam. All nude including the two females – interesting phenomenon, especially for me. The only person who seemed a little anxious was Billy. Perhaps he was anxious that the other “sex-starved” males were oggling at his wife, or maybe he was shy – I don’t know. After the swim we did some scary rock walking to avoid getting wet. Ultimately, however, we had to wade – chest deep – across. We camped by the river. Later on Larry expressed his displeasure at the use of flashlights. Although I expressed disagreement with his point of view, he conveyed his love and identity [for and with] the canyon, its earth, and the changing shades of light. The day had been gorgeous and at night the hills took on a human character – personality almost. We were discussing the practicalities, philosophy and ethics of actually living here. The need to live here. Larry thought with regret that sooner or later the area would become commercial. I conceived the idea that he could make a pact with one of the peaks that surrounded our riverbank camp. He would live there under an agreement with the peak. If the area, the Canyon, were to become corrupted by civilization, the peak would crash down upon the corrupt scene taking it all, including him, to death. Humphreys is a good man


This morning there was speech about the use of flashlights. Everybody agreed to stop using them. Why so quick to agree? Also a pep talk – yesterday had been hard on some nerves

Hiking down the river today, the bank would at points become vertical Canyon wall. We waded across the river with packs. I don’t remember that it became deep enough to use air-mattresses to keep the packs dry. We’d wade across, shoes, rocks “and all”, and continue marching. Did some fair walking today. Passed a makeshift bridge used for when the river is in spate – connecting some Indian villages to the trail up and out [west rim] to market. We camped a little farther up ahead at “the” hot springs [not very attractive], eagle, and chimney rocks. I think it was this evening that I met an Indian – he was carry a knife. Not knowing any Tarahumara or Spanish, I directed him to the others. A brief conversation followed: “Where are you from? When are you leaving? ADIOS.” In Spanish. In other words: don’t extend your welcome. But this is a guess at interpretation – he was not hostile. The TARAHUMARA who inhabit the area, a quadrangle including the wildest part of the Barrancas, are among the last [the last?] of the North American Indians to maintain their native culture. They are peaceful and yet, especially the gentiles [or cimariones or broncos] must be apprehensive about traffic through their land. When we got close to the Ranchos, they would bet monotonously upon a deep sonorous drum as if to say, “We know you’re there.”


A rest day more or less. Michael and Paul clambered up the east hillside through a side canyon and passed a Rancho where some men were lazily chopping wood. Larry hiked up, perhaps to the rim, and passed by some villages before returning. The rest hung around

Figure: Tarahumara Quadrangle – very approximate owing to the divergence of opinion among authorities. Inapuchi in center of “gentile” area: the un-Christianized Indians live in the most rugged country – Kennedy


Further hiking down the river. We formed groups. Billy, Becky, Larry, Dabney [I think] were more or less together, Michael and I and Paul in the rear. We floated with the river for a fair portion. Passed through a few Ranchos close to the river before finally camping at a beautiful swimming hole. The swimming hole


A day of rest before beginning the hike out at early evening. Paul went off exploring, and we left without him. The river faded into the distance and we said farewell from a good height above it. Met a young Indian girl – shy. At dark we stopped and prepared the famous spicy artificial meat [soybean] sauce for spaghetti. Paul stalked into camp just after supper. We then waited for moonrise. Some told stories and raucous jokes. Others pretended to sleep. At moonrise about 10:00 PM we continued the hike up the trail which led out just south of the Porada Barrancas Cabins

What is real, beautiful and true

Imagine the beauty of this scene. A valley some 6000 feet deep has been carved out of the rocky soil of the mountain range, SIERRA MADRE OCCIDENTAL, CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO by the Urique River which, in its flood season, is so violent as to carry forth huge boulders 40 feet in diameter. The valley is marked with hillsides and bounded by canyon wall. These are covered with vegetation of many types – from pine to cactus and lush growth to semi-desert. The slopes are sometimes gentle and at times become cliff face. The area is lit by a moon that brings character and mystery to the land: what secrets do you keep in you deep and silent soul, O Canyon of the Rio Urique? I will visit you again until your silent secrets become mine… Weaving through this wonderful place, in and out among the shadows, is a primitive Indian trail from the river bed to the Rim of the Canyon. Seven hikers are following the trail up and out and can at times see the whole valley in the moonlight

At 2:00 AM we stopped walking and slept


Completed the hike out. Beer at the Porada. Train to Chihuahua


Morning. Walked the streets. Others went to the Market. Bus to Ojinaga. Drive to Austin, arriving on


The end


Thursday, December 27

A van and two cars leave for copper Canyon, Chihuahua, Mexico from Austin, Texas. Sixteen Humans: Cathy, Toti, Louise, Shirley, Linda, Donna, Marilynn, Dabney, Dave Bousher, Dave Holy, Larry, Carl, Keith, Antony, Alan, I. First stop at Terlingua – spent night – via Route 10 and through Big Bend

Friday, December 28

Leave early for Presidio, border, bus to Chihuahua – city. Desolate country from Ojinaga [across from Presidio] to Chihuahua. Arrived at 2:00 PM, left 10:40 PM. Ferrocaril Chihuahua-al-Pacifico railroad. Beer in dining car, bed in cramped compartment. Moonlit countryside attractive. M. and I made love and slept together. Towards morning the train climbed into the highlands of the SIERRA and in spit of two blankets, Marilynn and Dave Bousher were cold

Saturday, December 29

Disembark at Bahichivo a little before 7:00 AM; truck ride – cold at first with ice on the streams – through CEROCAHUI where we changed trucks and drivers and had a coffee break to Urique. Over the high country and down into the Barranca del Cobre – the Canyon of Rio Urique. The beauty is not describable. It must be seen, remembered. Good lunch at Urique, and in the evening, coincidentally, much merriment and drinking among the townsfolk in honour of a wedding – a local bigwig’s daughter. Music non-stop through the night. We slept in a rented room

Sunday, December 30

A beautiful community

Lazed, relaxed. Took a brief walk up a streambed to the west, off Rio Urique just south of the village Urique. Cool, in the afternoon. Had lunch, breakfast and supper at local establishments yesterday and today. Beautiful food. Some tremendous pickled cherry peppers. Needed to sleep tonight for hike down the Urique River tomorrow. The merriment and music from yesterday’s wedding continues. The musicians stroll up and down the main street of the town, visit various households and play for the family. Apparently there is recompensation in the form of beverage. They continue to drink – the musicians and others – Antony Eyre says “I’ve never seen anyone so totally pissed out of their minds.” It must be some ritual, perhaps informal, the undertaking of this non-stop ordeal of drinking and music. Perhaps a relief, too, from the monotony of existence – an outlet for tensions. The area is dry – by decree of the Governor of Chihuahua. Drunks are littered, literally, on the streets. Some had to be removed from the main street to a position of safety. The drunken musicians continue their strain – tolerable, we seem to agree, but not great music

One might imagine this to be a debauched community if the description of their existence were left at this point. [According to some questionable values.] But this is not so. Upon arrival on Saturday we were treated with utmost courtesy at all times and places. The courtesy was only somewhat diminished on Sunday as a consequence of the drinking – and replaced by an attitude of gusto – said with its Spanish pronunciation. There are no signs of poverty or dirt. While the animals roam the streets and do leave there excrement there – anathema to the “Western” mind – a close and sympathetic observation indicates the animals [pigs and dogs mainly, an occasional cow] are healthy and the excrement is not excessive – that the streets and buildings are kept clean, tidy, and even decorated with plants, the young of which are protected against destruction by animals – all in all a total community. Healthy life in a healthy and beautiful environment. Although I did not ascertain the frequency of the ritual of the wedding, the magnitude of the process indicates that in a village of such apparent virility [beautiful men and women, healthful people, healthy animals], the frequency might be low. The music continued into Sunday night about 2 to 4 AM, Monday morning. The end came with a Male Vocal. A beautiful voice piercing the Night. A rendering of tremendous beauty making the entire process one of final attraction – irrespective of the value attached to the orgy. How does this fit into the communal dynamics? I don’t know

Monday, December 31

A pleasant hike down the Urique. New Year’s Eve amid the Barrancas. Enjoyable swimming

Tuesday, January 1, 1980

New Decade. A poetic discourse on hiking by Señor Humphreys. A group discussion which took up most of the morning. Very short hike down the Urique to a beautiful campsite on the Sands and Rocks. A nice swimming hole – the water is a little too cold for me to want to take more than a plunge. Donna gives Dave Bousher a lesson on swimming. M. and I prepared supper

Tremendous argument with M. tonight. Dissertation on emotions. Illicit use of such words. Share emotion with those who appreciate. Emotion and intellect “are” two cities on the continent of personality – someone’s opinion. Slept one hour


River crossings and a climb off Rio Urique up the Barrancas toward the highlands. We made a mistake with regard to water logistics, failing to take a full supply at the seeping stream, perhaps half way up. Later it became apparent that there was a long climb to water, but by then it was dark and we were forced to walk back in the dark to a finger at which we had stopped earlier. Next morning


There were two trips for water – the first was unsuccessful. From the finger we could see a cottage quite some distance down the steep hillside. It turned out to be abandoned. I went on the second [with Antony, Dave and Larry in the lead]. Hard climb uphill, I almost gave up from exhaustion. Finally found water, drank some, and filled our canteens. Was sick on the way back. Revived on return by salt tablet, soup and tea. I had sweated like a pig yesterday and must have been depleted of salt. The final climb back up to the Ridge above the ravine with water was also grueling. But great beauty up on the ridge. Yes! I can live here

Ahh! No bowel movement for 48 hours due to laziness – another thing to avoid


Early rise and breakfast. Fill up with water from springs. We passed a small hamlet before we began to climb again – until noon. It is still hard climbing – combination of weakness, altitude and heat? Rim of canyon by noon and proceed into Batopilas river canyon. We began to climb down slowly. Began to feel tremendously fit. Antony and I did a fast walk into Batopilas, leaving the others behind. OOO! Today was just tremendous. Felt lousy on initial climb but recovered thereafter. Beautiful once again with magnificent cliff of rock towering above the Batopilas canyon. Drove ourselves on the final stretch into Batopilas – great supper at a family “inn” in Batopilas. Too bloody tired to sleep. Keith showed up later – stumbled through the dark. Antony, Keith, and I tossed in our beds the night through – farting to the heavens. Just too exhausted for a good sleep at first


Today is somewhat fuzzy in my memory. I decided not to walk to LA BUFA [a good thing, too – it’s about 12 miles as the crow does it]. Wait and prepare for the President’s [Portillo] sister to visit the village on Sunday. Met the mine operator-entrepreneur CARLOS RUIZ at the Batopilas river bridge, in the evening. He was sitting at one end of it “waiting for the evening to come”. There is a sign at the bridge that says BIENVENIDOS A BATOPILAS. We saw a movie after supper

The village of Batopilas is older and larger than the village of Urique. It seems cleaner, more charming, dignified and quieter than Urique. There is no electricity here yet [as there is at Urique]. Perhaps Urique is more vibrant. The coming of the continuation of the Creel-LA BUFA highway down to BATOPILAS has diminished the significance of Batopilas as a center for trade [INDIAN?] and for mule driver as a form of livelihood. The completion of the road from BAHUICHIVO to URIQUE means that the URIQUE-BATOPILAS highland trail will be well frequented. How long will it be before a highway will be built in response to a felt need?


Nondescript again, except for a walk into Carlos’ mine, non-appearance of the President’s sister, music at Hotel Clarita during supper, and Bands at the village square – with dancing – after supper. A couple from a group from Sweden, perhaps [Scandinavia for sure] got up to dance – they were asked for 50 peses

A curious phenomenon. There were two Bands. One – apparently official – playing in the town square. The other – non-official – playing from across the street – in competition, perhaps, certainly better but quieter. We went across to the nonofficial band to listen. They asked for a donation which we declined and they promptly broke up. The same happened on Friday evening. When Antony and I were looking for the Hotel Clarita, we came across the band playing at a street corner. They asked us for 50 pesos which we did not provide since we had not come to listen: they immediately disbanded for the evening


Tiring truck ride through La Bufa to Creel and train to Chihuahua where supper at BEBIP gives me a stomach ache


Great fish supper at the fish restaurant [OSTIONERIA] in the building of the Santa Regina hotel where we stayed. But terrific pain in stomach all night


Miserable bus ride to OJINAGA but slept and spirits picked up towards end as ache dissipated. Drive back with night spent at Del Rio


Nice drive back to Austin through back roads of area between San Antonio and Austin


26 Friday

Austin – Presidio by Greyhound. Slept in field near Big Bend Travel Service

27 Saturday

Pesos at Spencers. 1:00 PM bus to Chihuahua arriving at 4:45. Checked in at Hotel Santa Regina on Calle 3, and shower. Went to DISTRIBUDORA MAR on Calle 3, three blocks from the Hotel to look for a map of the Urique and Batapilas drainage and Barrancas [with topographical lines] but it was closed. Supper at the Ostioneria on [not noted]

Walked to station to find out train time. Trains leave every day of the week except Wednesday at 8:00 [or 8:20] AM for LOS MOCHIS and also on Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 PM for LOS MOCHIS. These pass through Creel and the Copper Canyon area. There are also trains for Creel at ____ on ____

Once again my feet have developed sore spots, one of which is a blister [though small]. Need to do more foot preparation. Organization for this journey has been bad. My sleeping bag is not warm; I have some questions about the reliability of my stove, especially at high altitudes; I do not have the 1973 Government Map [Dentenal] and I do not have a definite itinerary. This last is not bad since I may now consider possibilities as they arise, but I am not feeling flexible

28 Sunday

Up at las seis y media de la mañana, taped my feet, wore clean socks and walk to la estación de Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico. Sat in the second class [Primera General] compartment. Uneventful journey except that a] I had tres cervezas, b] I had a conversation with two non-English speaking Mexicans. The conversation centered around backgrounds and was limited by my “Spanish for Travellers” booklet. We shared lunch. [This is another form of unpreparation – my lack of Spanish. But this is not an altogether miserable way to learn. Shared learning]. Prepared learning might involve:

a.       Pronunciation, familiarization: tapes, records; television

b.      Grammar

c.       Vocabuluary; structured approach

d.      Use: conversation; big dictionary; novel [literature, comics, newspaper]; technical

Met a group from University of Colorado. Later got the sketch of the trails on the EC Divisadero region from their leader – Joe

Had lunch and supper at at Hotel Cabaña in CREEL where I met the wife of ARQ. JONADAB VELASCO CHAVEC who live out at LAGUNA ARARECO [8 km from Creel] and at Chihuahua. Both are architects. The introduction came from the waitress/manager at the hotel who was trying to answer my question ¿Donde esta la tienda de Miniones Tarahumaras? [I wanted to get the map]. Señora Velano, perhaps, offered help. Since she was going to Chihuahua that night, coming back on Tuesday, she would see if she had a copy at home. Later her husband provided the information that the maps are available at the Government Agency: DENTENAL MAPAS DE MEXICO on VICTORIA en Chihuahua. I do not have a record of her name since she wrote only the name of her husband

Many thoughts today


What it means to me for something to be beautiful has changed. People, places and ideas they are not beautiful unless I can see myself in relation to them… where there is beauty, there is pain and tragedy. When beauty is sought there is an inevitable sense of sadness, sometimes sweet and other times not. I think this is one reason this trip is painful – so far

Me. But also because of that lack of awareness. Not all beauty can be sought. But no more because I am avoiding the core

“Making your own rules”. [why] and relations

Insecurity, knowing. Trying: starting and continuing. {I need to focus now on the immediacies of the hike}


A mixture of insecurity and o.k.ness. But it’s good nonetheless

Beth Hardesty –Try information. Or call Robert Hardesty, residence

29 Monday

Plan: Wash, Bandana, Shoes. Mail. Map. Plan. Phrases

Nothing to report today at Creel except for beer, fear and the fact that the place is swarming with tourists and backpackers – Americanos & Mexicanos. Further – I am running out of pesos, therefore I need to add to the list above

30 Tuesday

Pesos. Luis G. Virplanelen

Interaction of Natural Environment and Tarahumara Culture


Creel to Pitorreal Schedule from Creel


A Los Mochis

A Chihuahua



15:40, 16:34



14:30, 17:00


12:58, 13:18

9:06, 16:34



15:40, 16:00



9:06, 14:30, 17:15


12:58, 13:18



12:58, 13:77

9:06, 15:40, 16:00

31 Wednesday

“Daily” meditation and continuity

On the trail down to the Gran Agua. Supper with MIGUEL. 3 pesos rent

1 Thursday

Trails. Finding water

2 Friday

On the trail between Pitorreal to head of descent to “Gran Agua”. I have just cleaned myself – fresh. And now a sacred moment. Northside trail so it is cool. Overlooking canyons, ridges in the distance; some ranches – Tarahumara. The breezes are like waves at the ocean – coming from the distance and then close by. Filling the canyon and then the gentlest of whispers a shade away from silence. I am here. A falling leaf, turning in the silence. Pine needles glistening. A flitting shadow. Two hawks sailing, soarding, helixing around each other. Their cries fill the space. Two days ago that sound caw made me feel alone. Not now. The large CAW is softened by a sweet “cheep

Trail: ~125 R.R. ties from 2nd embankment after tunnel

Fear: Robbing independence and [creative drive.] This must be fought. [In relations; individual existence is like this, too.] Dealing with the fear impulse

Pitorreal to Bahuichivo and Cerocahui


3 Saturday

Cerocahui to Urique. So tired in getting there that I was depressed by its aspect. But soon picked up spirits after Tortillas y Frijoles

4 Sunday

To the foot of the trail to Batopilas

It won’t rain!

5 Monday

An experience of the pervasive aspect of water. Water is truly one of the elements

Back to Urique

6 Tuesday

Up the mountain road: Urique – Bahuichiu, a chance truck ride with a Mexicano and a Mexicana, through the mountain mists

Banuichivo – Chihuahua. Cold wet ride. Bahuichiu-Creel es estupendia

Crazy Jorge, beer, tequila, chile rellenos. Left a trail of tears out of the end coach – a candle in the storm. Who for? B! Need to speak English, Americanos are shy?

Mexicanos, reserved, less brazen probably less interesting than indu… Beer is a release. Tarahumaras even more than Mex[mestizo]

7 Wednesday

The streets of Chihuahua !!

Debate – spend day in Chihuahua and most night in bus, or day on bus and night in Presidio. Latter

Woman in Big Bend Travel Service

John E. Benning in coffee shop at Balia in Presidio. Manager is Rosie from Mass. Benning – four months – from Binghampton, NY. John was reading The Statesman – Socrates. Crazy rambling mind


Abbarotes, con a super

3 Thursday

Mud is also an element

Four people in bus [5]. The first bus was full

Buses mfd. by MCI in Pemrina, North Dakota [near Canadian border]

Salt, pepper, spices, onions, etc

Packing in cold, wet

spring 1981

A TRIP SIMILAR TO THE Spring 80 trip. We plan five days on the Urique – Batopilas trail and a day Cirocahui-Urique road. Any made-up time may be spent in Batopilas. Richard’s van

On return: Continue semester plan, especially español and notes

February 25 Thursday

March 3 Thursday

WINTER 1981-1982


Barranca del Cobre: A description

Barranca del Cobre is the canyon of the Rio Urique which the river has cut through the sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua, Mexico. The path of the Urique is shaped somewhat like a horseshoe with the nose pointing north. The canyon is accessible by primitive, unmarked trails from the Ferrocarril Chihuahua-al-Pacifico which runs close to the western rim of the canyon. In the northern reaches where the canyon is its wildest, the trails are known only to the Tarahumara Indian inhabitants of the region. The shy Tarahumara are frequently seen tending their farms, herding their goats across precipitous heights, or traveling to or from trading centers along the railway. The southwest part of the canyon is accessible by a graded road which leads from Bahuichivo on the railway to the charming village of Urique situated on the banks of the Urique. The inhabitants of this region are the Tarahumara and the Mestizos – people of mixed Spanish and Indian descent

The highlands of the Sierra are populated with thickets of oak, pine and juniper. Descending into the canyon, these give way at lower elevations to a thorny aridness typical of the lower Chihuahuan desert. Sheltered side-canyons are moist and semi-tropical, with occasional hot springs, thriving groves of citrus and bananas, and rare flocks of large-billed parrots

“Barranca del Cobre” applies in its most restrictive denotation to the northern portion of the canyon of the Urique. The name is also applied to the whole canyon or sometimes to the whole region comprising a system of canyons cut through the Sierras by westward running rivers like the Urique, the Oteros, the Batopilas and the Verde


The lumber town of Creel at the northern head of the canyon is linked by rail and bus to Chihuahua City [Cuidad Chihuahua] 200 km to the northeast


My physical objective is to hike down from Pitorreal or El Divisadero, on the northwest rim, to the Urique, hike down river and up again to El Divisadero or San Rafael. This will be a test of my trail and hiking ability. I hope to have some relaxed, sunny days by the river. Alternative plans, if I feel insufficient preparation or a need to turn back, are: 1] hike from Creel along the Tararécua or the Rio Cusarare as far as I can before turning back or reaching the Urique, 2] get a ride to the village of Cusarare and then to Tejehán on the Urique and, in either case, hiking down the Urique, 3] hike, again, between the villages of Urique and Batopilas

A secondary objective is improving my trail technique

Along the northern routes, if that is my way, I would like to stop at Tarahumara villages and visit – if I find a welcome. Between Urique y Batopilas I would visit with the Mestizo village folk and the isolated hamlet dweller. This could be my main objective but probably not on this trip

Thus physically and socially I am visiting and becoming more familiar with my home away from home. So I need, also, to look at livelihood and economy as well as social relationship from the point of view of a prospective native or, if more appropriate, a prospective resident

Spiritually I seek the source of life. In the Barrancas reside light and gloom

Barranca del Cobre – Tuesday, December 29, 1982

Wild places: Barranca del Cobre is the source of things

I undertake this trip because, in some way, the Canyon is connected with the source of things. Perhaps I will be able to resolve this conflict between the attraction of the source and the comfort of the fringes. I hope the Canyon will say to me, “I am both light and darkness; do not escape me.”

I also want to become, once again, more familiar with the region, its moods, climates, terrain, people, customs, means of living. Do they have a place for my skills, would I be accepted?

When I went last year I could not find my way down from Pitorreal to the Great River – “Gran Agua” as it was called by a one-legged Tarahumara, Miguel. I was also rained on and because of carelessness, I became completely wet. I want to improve my trail and camping skills

This improvement will come about by preparation/planning and experience. The process iterated over will bring progress, especially if the preparation includes a review of old experience and mental readiness

It is hard to divide preparation into “mental” and “physical” for, granting the distinction, they are closely connected. Part of mental preparation is being able to trust the physical – equipment, and being ready for the physical – needs, climate, terrain. I have some experience judging clothing, food, water needs and I will get more experience in this again. I still feel I ought to improve my medical skills [including first aid] and my Spanish [is a language mental or physical – it involves both.]

Two aspects of physical preparation that I have not paid much attention to before are pack weight and organization, and waterproofing. I am making the organization and weight distribution flexible by carrying a day pack and a number of stuff sacks; a number of conditions will avail – bus travel, city, trail: up/down, water crossings and floating. On the trail lunches and trail food should be readily available. By putting the sleeping bag on the extender bar of the pack frame and the lunch/trail snacks, some water, rain gear and other equipment on the lower rack [in a sack], the weight will be well distributed [not top heavy] and lunch and rain gear will be readily available. For water crossings, clothes that I’m wearing, etc. will go in the external stuff sack which will be placed for balance. On the bus the sleeping bag will be on the bottom rack, the lunches in the pack, the sundry equipment and cash, water, snacks, and travel documents in the day pack in the cabin with me. The city arrangement will be similar to the bus. Other arrangements are possible

In water proofing I have followed a multiple bagging principle:

Figure: Packing system – outward: individually packed items, 2 thin liners, stiff liner: pack with thick/thin liners

My sleeping bag has two plastic liners inside the stiff rack, one thick, one thin, as does the tarp/insolite unit. The multiple bagging approach ensures water proofing because the stuff sacks provide abrasion resistance and some water resistance. The thick liner has some wear resistance, and because of two liners the path of water to the dry chamber is indirect even if holes develop and wetting takes very long, if it occurs at all. Waterproofing should not depend upon the nonexistence of holes since holes are bound to develop in the liner. The problem is to make the “time constant” of the path of water to the dry cell large. If the holes are pin holes, multiple bagging is not so effective. If the holes are large [relatively to the spacing between bags] then multiple bagging is effective. If the chamber is taut, the spacing is small

For rain proofing, a much more modest system than that described above is adequate and, to preserve the integrity of the plastic bags, I will keep some of them out of action until they are needed for water crossings. When the system described above is used, the pack should be water proof for long periods of time even if it is allowed to float by itself. The natural buoyancy of the pack will be reinforced by an air mattress when I find it necessary to float the pack

Proper physical preparation frees my mind to focus/float as I desire

My mental preparation involves “general” aspects such as keeping objectives in focus, maintaining alertness through relaxation and resisting overstress. This is possible by proper rest, proper preparation such as the physical described above, adequate water supplies/water finding methods, trail skills and, when necessary, accepting fear and stress. “Specific” aspects include water/trail skills

Water is generally available at the foot of tall rocks – when porous and more in closed sheltered places than in exposed places. Wht are other signs of water? In rain, water is available in puddles. Larry once said, “on the trail, go up for water”. This is because the tall rock structures in the high places can be seen. But closed-in side-canyons often have water, especially if the walls are steep. See 3 below


December 29: 9:05 bus to Laredo: exchange if necessary [pesos]. Monterrey – Torreon

December 30: Chihuahua

In Chihuahua

(1)   Inquire buses for Creel, for Nuevo Laredo

(2)   Medicines

Tetrcycline = tetraciclina

Antihistamine = antihistaminico

Lomotil = [rara la diarrea]

Codeine = codeina

(3)   Map Carta Aeronautica NEB-I = escala 1:250,000. Carta Topografica G13AA12 – escala 1:50,000

(4)   Socks

In Creel

(1)   Trails, guides

(2)   Fr. Verplancken, Tarahumar – others

(3)   Train times/bus



My tentative hiking plan is Pitorreal-Rio Urique – hike down river – up to El Divisadero or San Rafael as we did in 1979. Elicit informatin/assistance from the Tarahumara. I would like to stop at Tarahumara villages or ranchos – if I am welcome

Alternative plans are I] Hike from Creel [just south of Creel] along the Tarasécua or Reio Cusarare as far as I can to the Rio Urique, turning back if necessary or continuing on as above, ii] get a ride to the village of Cusarare and then to Tejebán, iii] hike between the villages of Urique and Batapilas [I will do this in any case – time permitting]

I would like to get back to Austin by the 12th or 13th and should end hiking by 10th, January

Guides: Donato Loya, South of Divisadero

Figure: Sketch map of area between railroad and river


[La pronunciacion] Latino Americano

Only those elements with which I am not familiar!

Los Consonantes Españolas:

B Lips barely touched, lightly fricative

C Like English K before A, O, U; like S before E, I

G Hard [similar to English G] before A, O, U. Soft [like English H] before E, I

H Always silent

J Similar to English H but hard;

R One short clear trill except at the beginning of a word where it is like Spanish RR

RR A strong trill

[W] V Like Spanish B; lips barely coming together

X Like Spanish J between vowels; like S before a consonant – sometimes like English KS or GS

Y Like English Y but becomes a vowel by itself or at the end of a word equivalent, then, to Spanish I

Z Like Spanish S

El Acento:

1.      Exceptions to rules 2,3 require written accent: México, inglés, fácil

2.      Words ending with a vowel or N or S are accented on the second last syllable

3.      Words ending with consonants other than N or S are accented on the last syllable

Diptoneos y Triptoneos [Rules to be supplemented by familiarity]:

Strong vowels A E O

Weak vowels I U

1.      Diphthongs made up of a strong and a weak vowel [there are 12 permutations] are pronounced on one breath as one vowel with principle stress on the strong vowel. [If there is a stress on the weak vowel, then the stress is on that.]

Examples Approximately as in English

ie Yale

ei paying

eu pear, or as in July [?]

ai, ey sky

au cow

oi, oy boy

ue way

but: baúl [trunk] = ba-ul [because of accent]

2.      Diphthongs made of two week vowels have the stress on the last one: viuda = vi ú da

3.      Two strong vowels together do not form a diphthong but form separate syllables

4.      A stong vowel which is stressed coming between two weak vowels is a triphthong:



you continue


you scorn


you find out


you study

Silabeo [Syllabication]:

1.      Usually one vowel is one syllable, and therefore a syllable in Spanish consists of a consonant and a vowel












2.      A consonant between two vowels goes with the following syllable; example, fru-ta. The same rule applies to consonant combinations; e.g., ha-blar

TABLE 1: Train Times for Creel – Winter 1980-1981


First entry – January 2 – late evening – dark but half moon

Diagram of phases of the moon

Moon rises a little later each day. Sun rises in east. Old moon has converse side toward east; new moon has converse side toward west. Last night’s moon was new: the new moon is an arrow pointing toward setting in the west

Second entry, January 3, morning, while getting ready to leave camp

I have been tardy this morning and feel hurried, but do want to enter a brief description of the trip so far and review plans

Thursday, December 31

Left Austin this morning five days after I intended – need to prepare, sleep before leaving – on Greyhound, 9:05 AM bus to Loredo. I bought a through ticket to TORREON. Arrived Loredo about 2:45 PM and made reservations [in addition to already purchased ticket] on TRANSPORTES DEL NORTE bus to MONTERREY. The bus took us through customs [aduana] and the line was long. After a long wait in line, and before my turn, the bus was about to leave so I asked someone in line to keep my place and went to see what was going to happen. The bus driver could/would not wait anymore but said there was a customs office in town at the “downtown” bus depot. An elderly American gentleman in the same situation was livid [probably in panic, too]. The custom officer at the bus depot in NUEVO LOREDO spoke English and said, “Is OK this time.” I just made the bus after buying some chips and juice and the people clapped – I’d provided some excitement in the manner of DON QUIXOTE. Another customs inspection a few miles out of town. This duplication of offices in the government and in transportation seems typical in Mexico, and one is never sure which regulation is about to apply and when, but one has to, as the Mexicans do, wait with patience but tenacity. [I think it is quite easy to slip through Mexican customs – though one should be careful]. At MONTERREY again a last minute situation getting a reservation for TORREON in spite of my through ticket. The buses were full because of the FIESTA. 10:30 bus for TORREON. It looked like snow outside on new year’s eve – but it must have been an optical illusion, perhaps. Mountains and curves west of Monterrey. The bus driver gave us an exhibition of the famous hair-raising style of Mexican driving. It seemed that every curve came at the bottom of a downgrade and that the driver put on an extra spurt of acceleration to make the turn more “hairy”. By this time I was developing a headache – took a DARVON as an experiment and it didn’t do a thing

Friday, January 1

Arrived TORREON at 2:50 AM. Next bus at 4:30. Went down in the CHIHUANENSES bus station. There were buses at 3:30, 4:00, 5:00. In the meanwhile I began to feel sick with headache. Four aspirins and coffee did not help. Finally I threw up – the usual horrid sick feeling at first, the initial pain of the automatic stomach contraction, the disgorgement, and finally further contractions but no disgorgement. Now I felt much better – not sick, no headache. Was it travel motion or something I had eaten. Anyway, I learned something about the intimate connection between the different parts of my body

It was now 4:30 and the T del N bus was cancelled so I took the CHIHUAHUENSES bus – last minute wait again. Finally arrived CHIHUAHUA at 12:50. The bus ride was pleasant, stopped at a bus terminal restaurant where I had bread and milky coffee – nursing my stomach. The Chihuahua countryside on the route was pretty and not dry as it is north of Chihuahua – there are no hills, though

In Chihuahua tere was an option of a 2:00 PM bus to Creel – OLIVERA bus company. But I decided to stay to try to find a map. I bought medicines – titracycline [up to May 1985], antihistamine and lomotil. There at the train station I met Martin. He was nice but talked too much. We went together to look for my map – the shops were closed. He had supper at the bus station restaurant since the MI CAFÉ and many center city restaurants were closed – January 1. At 8:00 PM back to station for train. I was very tired from walking: out of practice since I had not been jogging or doing weights, heavy pack, and earlier sickness. We took the “dormitorio” – Martin to LOS MOCHIS where his girl is, I to CREEL. The prices are going up $325 to Creel [$115 is the general ticket]

Saturday, January 2

Arrived at Creel 4:30 AM – cold – I had to change outside the train by the tracks – short stop. I should have slept outside but I went to the usual hotel, prices up, now $150 a night. But got a good rest

Next morning

There are changes in Creel. New restaurants. My favorite LA CABAÑA had a new and fancy building, but it was closed. The restaurant associated with the cinema was closed or out of business. I ate at LUPITA’S. Next time I will try the ______ across the street from LUPITA’S. I then had an interesting talk with _______, a CPA who works in the MISSION store. She told me about her work, how she got there, and the purpose of the mission. It was very satisfying to learn that the [stated] purpose is to help the TARAHUMARA in their way of life, to face the pressures of modern society and the Mexican Government. I told her that I was looking for help in the trails from the FERROCARRIL to the BARRANCA DEL COBRE. She would have taken me to see Father Verplanchen but he was ill. I then told her of my interest in the TARAHUMAR and preservation of their way of life and their special environment. She encouraged me to write to Father Verplanchen. I mentioned my engineering background and she indicated a need in the mechanical plant of the clinic – in spite of my theoretical emphasis. I also indicated my interest in medicine

Caught the 2:00 PM train to PITORREAL – somewhat bossy, pompous conductor type. At Pitorreal filled up with water, enquired about trails – no one knew but suggested the Tarahumar. I enquired whether at RANCHO SAN LUIS DE MAJIMACHI – yes! Wlked along the tracks, took the trail and set camp just before the RANCHO. Cold and windy tonight. Need more space for the tarp and will use it for better wind protection – lean to

Sunday [Domingo], January 3

Have been tardy this morning and concerned with details of equipment but then will improve. For today:

Alertness. Trail strategy


Questions/guide at RANCHO DE SAN LUIS

Third entry, Monday, January 4

Less tardy, but can improve. From now on summary entries until time and mood

January 3

Not very well spent day, much unnecessary walking back and forth [logistical point of view] ending up, depressed, at the previous campsite without enough time for supper in daylight. But walked to Miguel’s Rancho, water puddles by seepage on the way, and water in the canyon to the side of Miguel’s Rancho. However, the sight of the many canyons, layered hills, layer upon ever-rising blue layer [like the Messiah] said “come”. Did not get to talk to any Tarahumar and finally back, as mentioned before, to the previous campsite just between the tracks and RANCHO SAN LUIS DE MAJIMACHIO. Pack seems heavy. I hope I get stronger. I debate whether to turn back and go to Divisadero or Bahuichivo, or to continue on. There was a Madron in Miguel’s Canyon

January 4, Monday

Less tardy today but hesitant to get out into the early morning cold. A group helps here – company. But it is necessary to do this to get in a full day before dark!

Need a small pair of scissors

Regenerative effects on mind and body of food, a good night’s sleep, and cleansing. I must eat lunch and trail snacks today

Debate: need to get to Bahuichivo by 7th if I am to get back to Austin on time – if I do the Urique/Batapilas walk

The moon is ascending

Fourth entry, Tuesday, January 5

January 4, continued

Walked to the Rancho and met an Indian. He was familiar with the way in the Barrancas and claimed he was going to go in that [or some] direction. I should have been more persistent in finding out where exactly he was going and ready with water, etc. He points out another man with a child in the Casa Blanca de Piedraswho knew to write and, I gathered, the way to the Barrancas. The name of the village, just off the tracks [ | mile] is ALDEA INDIA and not RANCHO DE SAN LUIS as I had thought all along. Later I saw him leave with his donkeys – I was not ready to go with him. As I said I should have been more persistent, ready, and knowing Spanish would help, too

I want to get a ¼ of water from the trail that leads from the left of the Casita with irregular Piedras. [Left, as approaching from the tracks.] There are 2 or 3 semipermanent springs that flow into “potholes” – water trough on the trail. Used by pack animals, but I have my iodine tablets. I took an up branch as the trail, instead of the watert-rough branch, and came out onto a Mesa which had a Caraterra [for vehicles] on it. It forked in two directions. I took the one to the left which led to a Saddle which is on the way to Miguel’s Rancho. Then I took the trail from the Saddle [where I had camped a year earlier] back to ALDEA INDIA picking up water on the way. When back, I had lunch and spoke to a Tarahumara in the Casa Blanca de Piedras [regular], but he was not the one earlier pointed out. He indicated the Caraterra to SAN LUIS which I found was the CARATERRA I had earlier seen. The right fork led to SAN LUIS; and the Caraterra came from ALDEA INDIA. In the meanwhile, in an elevated platform with short walls but no roof, another man had risen noisily, lookig around, gone back to sleep as I had lunch

I left for SAN LUIS, taking the caraterra [“highway”] and avoiding trails which would have been shorter. But I still need tofind my orientation. The highway led into the valley which seems to be headquarters for SAN LUIS. There were a few dwellings, a woman, chilren, cows, pigs, chickens, and a number of modern buildings. Some sort of school but I’m not sure. The valley leads out on trails to the peripheral cliff-top dwellings of the village:

Figure: Typical Tarahumar Establishment [pictures an arroyo [possibly water] between two mesas – water at the base of the rock mesa, cornfields, livestock, a house, fence, a storage building; and a cliff top with more dwellings]

And also into an Arroyo which leads into the Barrancas

I took a walk along the trail and came out onto a cliff top which had a fenced in dwelling but no people. Saw other cliff-top dwellings including Miguel’s. Saw into the spaces of the canyon, hillsides, sheer cliffs, waves of ridges running into the distance:

Figure: Sketch of chimney rock

blue mists, striations in the atmosphere – inversions – below which probably is no turbulence: no mesa wind. Above all the space I see has spirit

Along the trail from central SAN LUIS are:

Figure: Sketch of a blocky capstone of granite on a pedestal of lime

The column on one of them looked as though, from a distance, it was made of layered brick. Some are tall, some stubby, some massive. Probably the stress in the limestone due to rock makes it more resistant to weathering

Walked back, getting tired now, collected my equipment, stopped for water at the Arroyo and while collecting it from a small trickle, a horseman [Caballero] stopped to give his horse a drink. He indicated that the Arroyo led into the Barrancas del Cobre – as must all Arroyos. [Not all passable, though]. He had to go very far – “Muy lejos.” Did not seem concerned when I pointed out nightfall was close. The moon is getting fuller, though. He was the first man I met in SAN LUIS

Picked a campsite, removed dung, had supper of coffee, tomato soup, Top Ramen chicken noodles, hot orange kool-aid. Walked to the Canyon of the Arroyo, looked out it in the moonlight. Echo in the canyon – is it acoustics or spirit?

Later, from across the Canyon came rounds of merriment as a party broke up. People going home whistling, talking, laughing. One staggered past my campsite muttering. I haven’t yet seen a drunk Tarahumar – he might have been

Not so cold tonight. No wind. Did not pitch tarp

January 5, Tuesday

Got up earlier this morning. Walk again to the BARRNCA overlook of the chimney rocks of the previous day. Beautiful. Back to camp. Breakfast. People going to work. To the Barrancas – two hour walk. To the MINA [mine] 1 | hours. Questions. Curiosity about stove. Stunted interchanges. “Two hours to GRAN AGUA.” [Yesterday it was two days.]

Again I was not ready. I must be ready to follow __________/with water, packed. I must make efforts to communicate persistently

I was thinking yesterday, “A sense of purpose if important.” But

What is purpose?

What purpose?

What level?

What about the web?


Mexican gas in stoves – lead Altitude, caffeine on strength

Wool trousers [knit] Fibre, iron [red blood ups ds]

Wind pants Getting up, warmth

Orientation Water on previous evening

Expect full moon on January 10 Small notebook/pencil for pouch

So it seems that both the trail and the CAMINO out of SAN LUIS lead to the BARRANCAS. The trail leads to the MINA – does it go beyond? Crystal is mined in the mine and sold to “tourists” in Creel and Chihuahua

Expect full moon on January 10

Getting up is one of my “perennial” problems: readiness, alertness, awareness

Fifth entry, Tuesday, January 5

Lunchtime – I do not know the time as my digital watch “changed time” on me

I was just eating lunch under a tree filled with corn of the Tarahumars – next to a fenced-in dwelling. There was a pole next to the trunk and notches: probably for climbing:

Figure: Sketch of tall tree used as a rack for drying corn among the leaves

I was drinking gator aid as if it were Amrit. Must make a list of foods that I do and don’t like on the trail. Repetition makes monotonous



Some kool-aids

Noodles – spiced up


Herring in tomato or mustard sauce Herring in soy oil


Quaker Oats flavored with sick flavor

Some kool-aids

Must pare equipment weight, improve organization, and especially estimate food requirements. A safety factor is O.K. but my supplies could probably get Hannibal’s army & elephants through here

Here is my map of the Sierra of Pitorreal:

Figure: Sketch map[1] of some detail, showing railway, trail, “caraterra”, switchback, showing campsites, location of ranch dwelling, and a sketch of peg-legged Miguel…

[Concerning the map] Very bad congruence, but topologically sound. The two arroyos near B on the map join into one arroyo which, the claim is, leads to Barrancas [it must]

I have found a trail. It looks somewhat Malo but is definitely a trail and from the looks of it it is beautiful, has water

It seems to lead into the Barrancas – I followed it far enough. People, horse prints. I followed the lower Arroyo marked in the map until it looked as though it were going nowhere [as a trail] when I saw this trail. Followed it enough to tell. On the way back it comes out at the point marked A on the map. X is where the trail meets the arroyo. There is a spring and shallow pools there. It looks as thought this trail would not go too far from water

I am now faced with a decision – on or back. January 7 is the last day by which I can remain uncommitted. [I must commit myself by January 7 morning.]

On the use of Spanish words/phrases. It’s part of my learning and I am happy to do it

On cameras. They do capture the beauty in photographs but my notebook is a better representation of my private inner eye

I just saw a far cliff… with a family of trees at its front. The trees looked like pine needles – miniscule. This far cliff, it turned out later, is at point C on the most recent map. The trees are dwarfs owing to exposed conditions, etc

Figure: Edge of cliff

This reminded me of:

Figure: Sketch of acutely bent tree on brink of boulder on the edge of a cliff

A boulder I saw yesterday with a tree. It was at the bottom of a cliff:

Figure: Sketch of cliff minus the chunk of boulder

Sixth entry, Tuesday January 5, about | hour after dark, written in flashlight

Value of writing. I’ve noticed before it has a therapeutic effect. Forcing me to see. Also an organizing principle. I was wondering yesterday whether there was any evolutionary basis for this. Not for the writing per se, but of organizning principles, organizing ability, intrinsic intelligence? Put in this fashion, the answer is obvious and the question was not too deep. But that writing is therapeutic remains

On the map [Figure] [nearest] from the spot marked B I took this evening a trail which was horizontal and sanked in and out among the arroyos and cliff fronts. Chalky ground, round hollow perhaps water passages eating the limestone making the structures:

Figure: Sketch of rounded mushroom-like cap on a sturdy stem of stone

Does stress affect solubility? The trail passed a number of cliff dwellings and I thought it would end at Miguel’s but it didn’t. It ended at a spot I estimate to be C, but I could be totally incorrect. At about that spot I met a one-legged man and exclaimed “Miguel!” He did not seem to acknowledge but looked stunned. He and his companions offered me a barrage of confusing [and ununderstandable] advice. As it was getting dark, I hurried back to camp at about B on the map. There was no time to try and decode their warm wishes toward me, nor time to solve the relation between points C and Miguel on the map

Back in camp supper was coffee, spring vegetable soup, beef-flavored Mug-O-Lunch [very good], and hot chocolate. I must remember that the Beef Mug-O-Lunch was good and simple

I am feeling ordinary. It began by feeling very comfortable. In walking from B to C along the snaking trail, it was so easy to follow the trail I was pleased. In part I was able to tell where the trail would go. My pace was excellent. But the bubble of self-confidence was burst when Rancho C turned out not to be Miguel’s. My progress in the Barrancas is like progress in research. Imagined success, retreat, salvage, partial success, each step slow with a few peaks

Plan for tomorrow [Wednesday, January 6]

I will not make a morning entry since I want to begin the day early. I must know by tonight whether I’m going to stay or go to Bahuichivo

I plan to try the trail into the Barrancas from point X on the map. I will take a day pack with

I will leave as early as possible, hide my backpack in a safe place, and leave ample time to get back

Entry made in moonlight![2]

The weather has been clear. Except for the first night, no hint of rain. I put my tarp up the first two nights. The first night and next day were windy. Otherwise, except for brief periods during the day when the sun goes behind an occasional cloud, it’s calm. In the day it’s warm in the sun, hot if I’m exerting. Cool in the shade or if there is a wind. At night it is cold. One night water in bottle in the pack, insulated, froze. No wind. It must be below freezing. This morning my boots were frozen

I took a little walk away from camp at dusk. Silhouettes of trees, cold blues, light and dark striations of pink. You must tell me why you made the earth so lovely. I saw my stove burning as I returned. “Home.” A reminder of the candle and the wind. There is a candle burning within. I was reminded of two years ago, spring, when we, Jim Southard and I, saw a ring of fires in a notch in a ridge. Tarahumar. Every society has its own magic. I spoke to a man today. He agreed that the Barrancas are Muy Hermosas

I was going to take a walk but it’s cold. Fortunately the ink in the pen has not yet frozen. BiC magic is stronger thanmy toes. If the sun sends out rays of warmth, it seems the moon sends out rays of cold

Seventh entry, January 6, Wednesday

For the future – a month in the open – supply, camp. Minimal packing

Figures: Trails and Forking – an arc of scallops: shelf – arroyo, in the Canyons


Now at the top of the trail to the Barrancas. 10:15 AM. Dark by 6:30. 8 hours of walking. Must turn around by 1:45. Make up mind tonight. [It seems already made up.]

Figure: Sketch map, as a continuation of [Figure]. From [A] a shale switchback enters the arroyo at a springs and pool. A trail from the pool, as it turns out, leads nowhere [as I could make it]. It is horizontal and becomes less and less passable – animal trail. I stopped here [Y] and turned back. The river branches. The flat bed of the arroyo stream enters cornfields. A cow trail was seen from Y

Figure: Chimney rock looks like this [two versions of a tall straight column fractured and misshaped at top]

Enquire “Camino de Barrancas” – trail or arroyo guide. Try the stream bed, arroyos, etc. – looking for trails, too!

Figure: Some of the limestone structures are shaped [the column is curved, and the capstone appears ovoid]

Figure: A better, more careful study of a limestone structure in central Rancho de San Luis: Shows capstone rock, undercut by erosion, on a curved stem of limestone – its diameter greatest at its base

Ninth entry, January 7


rhythm and pace [fast/slow] and application in life

all day & reserve


to keep mental alertness re objectives

many accomplishments

correct attitude : trail = general ken of terrain, up points

communication/criticism : listen to explanation

papers – return

Tenth entry, Friday, January 8 – Walking down …Urique

steady walking is good for thinking

optical illusion of clouds moving away [it is an illusion because it happens in all directions. But only when walking, or walking/stopping.] I don’t often hear this silence – there is the faint whisper of the river – here I am and why

Eleventh: Thomas

Map Center, 2611 University Avenue, San Diego, Cal 92104, [714] 291-3830 Series 1501 A&R: NG 13-1, 12-3, 12-6, 13-4

Twelfth entry, Monday, January 11

In cave, almost to the top of the trail, the Sierra between Urique and Batopilas. I stopped in the cave to look and while looking [much dust, cow cakes, signs of fires] I saw without, coming through a gap in the hills: grey! Clouds swirling in – more rain. I’ll wait, I thought. This is the heaviest yet and continual. It has been raining since morning, yesterday

January 6

I followed the trail until it ran into a maze of goat trails. I did not find it again but did not go all the way down to the Arroyo. I decided to camp at the spot near the tracks. On the way there I took the “caraterra” down to G on the map and then the north route to Miguel’s: it did not look like Miguel’s but rather like the Rancho C. Very confusing. I retraced my steps to G, then to H, to I and back to camp. That night was extremely cold. At one point I became very nervous and quickly opened my sleeping bag – claustrophobia. After that I remained “cold” but no longer nervous. Some sort of adjustment? Perhaps because supper was light, I did not have enough energy reserves to provide warmth

January 7

I checked the trails again by going to through I, J, to K. I ascertained that point Cis Miguel’s. Then walked to Pitorreal and caught the 3:00 PM train to Bahuichivo. Ride to Cerocahai. Because the train was late I arrived in Cerocahui at 10:00 PM. Walked on up the road to La Mesa de Arturo, sad not to eat at my favorite restaurant in Cerocahui. Got a ride to La Mesa – part way, walked to Cabañas de Barrancas. Made camp there. It looked like rain. Worried about it. Finally after I put the tarp up, the clouds disappeared

Met an Australian in the train earlier today – interesting

On my walks today I was thinking about rhythm and pace

Are these principles not applicable in day-to-day living?

January 8

Had breakfast in the Hotel of the Cabañas de Barrancas. Started to walk toward Urique, but got a ride in the Hotel Mission Bus to the scenic overlook. Walked down most of the way. Many thoughts on the way down. Steady walking is good for thinking. [Steady walking on known trails or roads.] It felt good to be walking down. To see the cliffs, the river, the village. At one point I stopped and the Canyon was silent – at first. Then I heard the bee and then a fly. Finally there was a whisper in the distance? – the river

At another point when I stopped, the clouds seemed to be going farther away over the horizon. Good, I [must have] thought. But no, when I looked in another direction the clouds were moving away there, too. The phenomenon stopped after I had been resting awhile. An optical illusion to do with change in pace?


I was thinking yesterday about communication. This is in relation to criticism. If someone criticizes me in the spirit of “open communication”, they should be willing to listen to my explanation

In the evening today I camped by the Urique – bathed and cleaned my clothes. Supper at the ______ restaurant, excellent frijoles charros. Visited the Restaurant Urique and gave snapshots to Ana Ramirez

Went to Thomas’ and his house seemed dark

January 9, Saturday

Visited Thomas in morning, had breakfast, hiked to the beautiful spot on the rim. That night it rained a few drops – not enough to need a tarp, but I did put up the tarp, though

January 10

Two mall climbs then a long climb to the “finger” the day was made long by rain. But I had a will to go on

January 11

Rained on and off all night, not cold. My tarp was badly rigged – got soaked again but not badly. Continued climbing again amid the clouds. Won’t forget this. Alternation between fear of cold/wet and exhilaration at the clouds. I am in the cave now and it is cold. But it is good that I am here instead of on the trail. Tomorrow I will have a chance to get to Batopilas and certainly out of the cold of high altitudes. Tonight I will be warm [I hope] and dry. The winds sound ominous. Visibility out of “window”, my cave window, is 200 yards now. But it gets higher occasionally. Once in a while I see the Batopilas Canyon. This must be the “eye”, the heart of the storm

This cave is dusty and with cow cakes. Never have I found cow cakes more appealing. I’ll take two. There’s an element of fear in the entry which robs from the poetry and completeness I felt as the events occurred. Now that I’m warm, the fear is less but it’s still there. I have enough supplies to spend a week here but I need to get back for class

Visibility is down to 100 years, swirling mists abound – I have no particular affection for my ____ any way so it can’t get worse. I hope I can see enough tomorrow to follow the trail. I hope the trail abajo a Batopilas is not one long slide

Thirteenth entry, Wednesday, January 13

I want to first return to some points mentioned or written earlier

On finding trails, following trails, and cross country. One approach could be using memory and another following the trail. But given certain inherent and developed skills, the correct attitude is probably having – general knowledge of the area: terrain, feature, water, ranchos, etc. and any special information available; in addition is willingness to try out different possibilities. Development of “seeing” and “sensing” come from this and being relaxed

January 11, again

As I started to climb, the rain came, went and came again. Mists formed in the alleys and then glided up the arroyo. As they approached all became silent and heavy. Then the birds erupted in a flutter of nervous activity. The winds picked up. Strands of white mist, crooked fingers of some weary white witch now awakening, reached up to the hill tops and the saddles, pulling corpus after. As I was enveloped, the space became damp and heavy and it might rain. I would hear crackles of electricity – she laughed as she passed. Finally, fingers reaching as in Michaelangelo’s painting, she passed and rose into the clouds

At first I would build temporary shelter, but then I would continue on. At one exposed point when I heard the electricity, I lay close to the ground

I felt as I walked at times heavy with the physical potential in the situation, and then light as though in step with the rhythm of the universe

I am here, and will come again

I shared lunch with a Mestizo rancher. He enquired whether my crackers were some kind of taco. As we ate it rained. He had reappeared after an earlier conversation because he was concerned about my continuing on solo

Later, in the cave

The cave is a window on the world. Rocks, trees, rain, wind, skies blue and grey, hills and valleys are all visible and audible from within. But as the evening grew, it became a grey void with nothing but the nearest trees seen, and the next nearest forming the humped figure of a fantastic Mexican Ursus Horribilis – grizzly. But as the night grew and the darkness came an audible world came alive. There was a pitiful yelping or perhaps a bleating, and then a barking of a dog. I thought – wild dogs, a mother reassuring her pup that food was nearby, just in that cave up there! Then I thought, no! A stray animal being encouraged home in the storm by a herd dog. There was thunder, swaying of trees, rain, and the water that came down the hill over the brow of the cave. But most of all there was the wind in the vacant grey dark. It comes and comes again. The ever-building roar of force unresisted. It lived with me that night as my first introduction to a mountain storm

January 12, again – morning

My window is open to the world again and I will continue walking today. I have been pacing myself well on this hike. The climb down was relatively easy. I walked into Batopilas at 4:30 after a leisurely though somewhat tiring walk. I took more pains than usual to notice the features of the Canyon and the trails

I had cold coffee and cold juice, some nuts and raisins for breakfast instead of my usual cooked breakfast [hot coffee/chocolate, juice, oatmeal/grits]. Instead of a warm breakfast, I cooked lunch – “Italian style” spaghetti with tomato sauce made from Lipton’s package soup. The lunch was a Kraft package. I had used half of the contents earlier. The optimum procedure [re taste and mess] that I’ve evolved for this sort of meal is [for half package]: boil 2 1.2 cups water [a little on the high side] with margarine and jerky bits. Add spaghetti to boiling water, stir at low boil until cooked. Add flavor mix. Mix in. Add tomato soup, mix in. Cook further if necessary to change consistency. Pour resulting glop down throat as a throat cure

A Mestizo joined me, but not for lunch. He was going to Balopilas. He wanted company but I did not want his. I eventually lost him after he found a more suitable compañero

Perhaps my easier hiking is because I am in good shape

I evolved a style for walking down strong trails. I had known before that putting the foot down toe firs or flat against the ground and bending forward slightly helps

Figure: Diagrams of preferred foot placement down rough slopes

But I had also noticed how Burros lift their front legs, like show horses, when going down a steep trail. Later I saw a Tarahumar waling along railway tracks with a stone-laid bed. He did something similar

Figure: Diagram contrasting straight-legged stride in city with lifting forward foot at the knee on the trail

I incorporated these features into the downhill hike and did well

I saw an unusual number of machete bearing persons today. One man was shooting pajarillos with a .22

My stroll into Batopilas was leisurely. I was tired but not beat. One coke and two pan. The second pan was from a smart kid who took 10 pesos and gave back nine [the train is riding jerkily here] and forgot to give me the pan. Batopilas always seems sleepy and less vibrant than Urique but, perhaps, because it is the center of a “presidency” … more fashion, culture, and old charm. Old world and new

I walked to the river which was in spate because of recent rain. Brown instead of the usual [for this time of the year] green. Later the electric company official DARIO who measures water flow and rainfall in connection with the proposed dam downstream [a abajo] on the Rio Fuente, said that there had been 32 cm [~13 in] of rain in the past 24 hours

I met him as he was talking to Victoria outside the Hotel Clarita. She was starving for an English-speaking intellectual [type] and we spent a pleasant evening. Strolled to the other end of town to a restaurant on the older village square. Food not good. Then met _____, the family with whom she was living. Walk to the bridge. Watched the sunset. Back to town where she found me a ride to Creel. Our conversation was pleasant though there was some confusion on the points of supportive role and subservient

January 13

Somewhat fitful sleep as I had to be ready at 5 for the truck without an alarm

The ride was fiercely cold, and uncomfortable though stunning. The last half he was quite unbearable. It was at high speed and the cold wind whipped by us in the open truck. I was worried for one woman who looked blue. I also had the severe discomfort of a high pressure bladder. At Creel I relieved myself a few feet away from the truck. Fortunately Mexico accepts the natural problems of humanity

The truck driver asked for 250 pesos. Last year it was 100 pesos. But I had been warned about prices since the rates of gasoline had doubled in December. Palu in the closed Troka de Correos now asks for 300. I gave the driver a 500 note and received three 100s in return

Proceeded to the restaurant _____ [across from Restaurant Lupita]. Not recommended for its food but definitely good for chilled travellers. They had a mechanized chicken-roasting device with an open front. I placed myself as close as possible

While walking around, waiting for the train to Chihuahua, met Evelin Mittoch who now sits with her friend Peter from Brussels in the compartment with me on the Autovia to Chihuahua

Time to open the Tequila


Later – Bus Ride

Chihuahua – Torreon – Saltillo – Monterey – Laredo. Initially crowded, but later sparse. A woman in the seat in front looked back, made eye contact, offered cigarettes – I did not accept, but invited her to sit with me, but she did not

January 14

Saltillo – Monterrey. Again she looked at me, then she got up and sat by me. We talked, held hands, felt, and kissed. She asked if I enjoyed “fucking”. I affirmed and teased her that it was a dirty word. At Monterrey we got off: she, Amandina, to her existence in the city and I to my bus connection to Laredo, and then home to Austin


Listening to the body. Interpreting. Hypochondria. Emotions. Intellect. Tradition… But the tradition includes intellect… and conflict

Gorp out

Anger. 1] is used to validate one’s behaviour. If one feel that someone is “observing” me and this affects my “natural rhythm”, one may overcome the effect by getting angry; i.e., by letting the impulses charge out upon a chariot drawn by horses towards the the negative object… it need not involve a display. 2] This sort of positive reaction to and overcoming of stress is very stressful, although it permits self-expression

3] We clench muscles at the thought of effort, scratch our heads to think… [Alan Watts] 4] How to maintain that natural pace without the stress reaction _____ a] “letting go”; relaxing the muscles, choosing comfortable environments, b] talking, c] catharsis, d] attention to total environment

Efforts of anger on person. Anger leads to anger; respect? But self respect?

Role of intellect. [intellect = thinking]

Nature of man

Loneliness – isolation – lack of contact with self or other. Loneliness occurs in the struggle to maintain balance between contact with self and others

One man can save the world. It is not necessary [it’s confusing] for all to

Leaving so as to return! [Examples] Chases


[1] Page 22 of original hand-written journal.

[2] Editor’s Note: The handwriting in the journal has often been 3 mm high, in hierarchical order. But here, in the moonlight, the writing swells and contracts, ebbs and flows, merely approximating straight lines… large, dark, and spacious – like the night.

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Philosophy of Mind