Urique is at the bottom of the canyon, and so apart from prudently making sure that our brake pads were up to it I’d naively thought that getting here would be the easy part. Our plans for getting out again (1700m vertical height gain) waver between the onward journey (and “ethically” purer) up the other side via a road that sounds like extremely hard work in the best light and getting a lift back to the train station at Bahuichivo and maybe a train back to Creel and go the other way round the top of the Canyon system.
We spent a couple of days in Creel resting and routeplanning. Setting out from Creel nearer lunchtime than planned meant my estimate of a “day or two” off the mark from the start. Paved road dives and climbs to San Raphael via the viewpoint at Devisadoro. The scenery along there is pretty spectacular in itself, and a hint of the magnitude of the canyon system at Devisadoro only served to increase the worried thoughts of the ‘up’ back out of the canyon.
Beyond San Raphael they’re digging up the road. Given the terrain this is a major undertaking, so they’ve done 6km, with significant earthmoving for another 10km. The plan is for a nice paved road to Bahuichivo as the Federal Government “Vivir Mejor” poster proclaim. There were also a few about resurfacing the road down into Urique. The Federal Government is doing its best to open up an area increasingly crippled by plummeting tourist numbers and trouble with narcotics.
The ‘down’ proper into the canyon doesn’t happen until 16km before Urique. In fact, to slow things down properly, there’s a nice big mountain in the way. We worked hard all day and didn’t have much distance to show for it. The down is continuous, steep and on a single track dirt road precariously perched on a near vertical canyon-side. Given that Creel is at 2300m and Urique at 500m, it’s quite a drop.
In Urique we’re staying at Entre Amigos after seeing pictures in a number of web-journals that have inspired us recently. After an afternoon of internet and rest we went on an overnight walk down the valley – partially to find a nice spot to ‘be’ and also to check out the bottom of the ‘pure’ onward line out of the canyon. This section has had hardened cyclist pushing for kilometres, and isn’t on any map we can find, so we wanted to feel a bit more sure of it.
After getting back from the walk, I needed another day in Urique to get over the aches and pains. I discovered that 4 months of pretty strenuous bicycling means that the muscles it takes to walk a few kilometres on the mostly flat are very rust indeed… Given that, we took the opportunity to learn some vital skills from Maruca, the housekeeper at Entre Amigos. A couple of hours later we’ve learnt to make round-ish tortillas and have roasted and ground a whole load of coffee. The latter was especially useful as the local store only has Nescafe or green un-roasted coffee beans – much panic averted!