The night on top was great. There was no traffic at night, I had the viewpoint called Gallego all to myself. The nights are also fairly chilly with 0 to 5 degrees which makes for great sleeping. I slept like a baby. So the second night wild camping in Mexico was a maximum success.
After watching a beautiful sunrise it's time to get going - 1800m of steep elevation drop down to Urique on a rough switch back gravel road! I look forward to it but also know it is going to be unpleasant. Descents like this are actually not as much fun [to me] as everybody might think. My hands painfully cramp up from the constant need for braking and the bike hands through all the bumps to my wrists and shoulders! On top you don't really see the scenery as you need to stay so focused on the road...
To make it pleasant I stop a lot to rest and enjoy the scenery. The long switch back road disappearing in the canyon ahead and appearing again far below me, the vast amount of plants and shades of green, the smoke down in the village from people starting their first fires of the day... Similar to the drop from the Colorado Plateau I can notice many different changes in vegetation while dropping from the pine forest into a lush tropical forest with cacti and agave.
Once down in Urique I stock up food and lots and lots of water for the first long climb out of the canyon. I like the little village in the canyons with its colorful houses, beautiful church and plaza, calm and laid-back atmosphere. It stands in stark contrast to Creel which I didn't like all that much.
After wandering around for about an hour and making sure to hydrate myself well for what's to come, I decide that it is go-time again. Along the crystal clear river Urique I make my way through the canyon on a very bad dirt road and reach "the last bridge" about an hour later. From now on its only uphill, only about 30km... With 2500m of accumulated elevation... On a road that basically consists of loose rock...
Just before I cross the bridge a clearly mentally disabled person asks me where I am going. After my answers he testifies me being mentally disabled, too [Estas Loco = you are crazy]. As I cross the bridge I can still hear his mad laughter and screaming behind me.
On the other side I make a last stop in the shade of a tree. Leave cuter ants make their way down the tree with their heavy load. It's hot here in the canyon, with 32 degree very hot for my standards. While I sip on my Coca Cola to get every liquid ounce possible in, I look at the steep path going up from here. I mentally prepare for the work ahead. I am excited. Indeed I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time. For years I've been fantasizing about riding the Copper Canyons. And this will be the first big challenge that the Canyons throw at me.
The first section is so steep that I have to start pushing right away. As there are no signs, I ask a farmer just 100m after starting to make sure this is the correct way. He answers friendly that this "Camino" will eventually lead to the "carraterra" to Batopilas. Perfect! Without many teeth left in his mouth he gives me his brightest smile and we wish each other a good day.
Step-by-step, meter after meter I slowly screw myself up the steep rock walls. In parts the grades even exceed the 20% mark and I find myself pushing most of the time. Even on stretches that technically would be rideable I push a lot to take the load of my tires on the sharp rocks. I am not much slower pushing than riding anyway. In the midday heat and with the incredible effort pushing Klaus up I sweat more than I've ever sweated before on the trip. Already after half an hour I get slightly concerned whether my 8 liters of water would be sufficient [they were!].
And so the rest of the day continues. Breathtaking sceneries, shy and very reserved Tarahuamara maintaining their small, primitive farms on every remotely flat space [there are not many flat spaces here], occasionally some cows, goats or donkeys crossing the road, the vultures circling high above me as if they would be waiting for me to die, no car, 4 hours of pushing the heavy bike, 19km of progress. This is sincerely one of the toughest stretches of road I've ever done.
As the temperatures get more bearable with the elevation gain and the time of the day I push until long after sunset. As the steep terrain does not really allow for hidden away camping I literally pitch my tent at the side of the road. Apart from some goats, there is no traffic here anyway.
To my surprise I have some cell service. I got a message from Steve. His Jeep broke down and they are still in Urique and will drive this road to Batopilas tomorrow. I have enough water to make it if I drink conservatively but it is nice to have some extra. I order some drinks with him.
Before going to bed I wash away the dust and sweat of the day away with some wet wipes and look forward to a good night rest. As expected, it is a great test physically but I sleep in very satisfied with the progress made.