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Jeff Jackson Wednesday, 26 February 2014 10:28 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Running for Life - Page 5

Trailhead: Copper Canyon

Getting there. Drive south from El Paso, Texas, and cross the border at Ciudad Juarez. You’ll need to present your passport or notarized birth certificate at the checkpoint and secure a tourist card before continuing to the interior of Mexico. You’ll also need to present your title, driver’s license and credit card (in the same name as appears on the title) in order to receive a car pass. Once your paperwork is complete, drive south for five hours to Chihuahua City on Mexico 45, turn west on 16 to Cuahtemoc and follow signs to Creel. The drive from Chihuahua to Creel takes around five hours. Chihuahua City has an airport if you’d prefer to fly. Bus service via Estrella Blanca is also an option. Buses run from El Paso. Eight buses a day run from Chihuahua to Creel. Creel is an excellent hub from which to explore the Copper Canyon.

Seasons. Because of the varying altitude, Copper Canyon offers good temperatures year round. Summers are blistering in the lower elevations and winters are frigid up high. For this reason, spring and fall might be considered the best seasons to visit.

Guidebooks. My favorite guide to Mexico is Insight Guides Mexico, mainly because of Kal Muller’s incredible photography. Let’s Go and Lonely Planet also offer basic information on accommodations, camping, transportation, restaurants, etc.

Recommended trails. Some of the more popular destinations make for excellent trail runs. Check out The Valley of the Monks, nine kilometers from Creel, an eerie collection of rock spires known in the Tarahumara language as The Valley of the Erect Penises. Basaseachi Falls is the highest waterfall in Mexico and offers a difficult trail to the base (two hours of trotting and scrambling). The Batopilas River, at the bottom of the Copper Canyon, has a nice trail along its banks that goes as far as your legs can go. Some of the nicest trails are those that connect Tarahumara villages. Check with locals for more information. Given the nature of the landscape and ubiquitous trail systems, I would recommend contacting or, better yet, hiring a guide before venturing into the unknown.

Suggested reading.

  • Fontana, B., Tarahumara, Where Night is the Day of the Moon, 1979, Northland Press, Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • Kennedy, John, Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre; Beer, Ecology, and Social Organization, 1978, AHM Publishing Corporation.
  • Lumholtz, Karl, Unknown Mexico, 1902, Rio Grande Press, University of Chicago.
  • Lister, Florence C. and Robert H., Chihuahua, Storehouse of Storms.
  • Nabokov, Peter, Indian Running; Native American History and Tradition, 1981, Ancient City Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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