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Copper Canyon Adventure

21-31 March 2003

Day 7: Cusarare Falls

All photographs ©2003 by Mary Beth Stowe

After a great breakfast the next morning we headed out to the trail to Cusarare Falls, which was supposed to be good for Eared Quetzal. The drive out was absolutely gorgeous; it really reminded me of some of the high Sierra areas in California. At the "visitor’s center" the owner (?) let us through the gate and we headed out on a good dirt road, picking up Yellow-eyed Junco right away. Mexican Chickadees were all over, and shortly we heard something that sounded suspiciously like a Red-faced Warbler, so we enjoyed both Painted and Slate-throated Redstarts while Barry tried to cue the recording up (we both agreed that tapes are a bear for that). When he did finally get it set up, that warbler came tearing in, giving everyone wonderful views! What a bird!

      

Landscapes on the way to the falls

               

Yellow-eyed Junco and Tarahumara Indian family at the entrance to the “park”

      

We carefully make our way across the bridge and to the trail...

            

L-R:  Mexican Chickadee, Slate-throated Redstart, and Red-faced Warbler

      

We pick up a couple of friends on the way while enjoying Chiricauha-like rock formations along the trail

        

More scenes...

        

A Zone-tailed Hawk soars above the ridge

Headed on down to the falls area, where gradually more Tarahumara Indians popped up, selling their wares and again distracting the group! At the overlook we gawked at the scenery, when a Tufted Flycatcher came in to a dead bush and gave stunning looks! Those hardy souls went to the bottom, but the trail looked a little steep to me so I opted to stay put and eat lunch along with the rest of the gang who stayed put; we all ended up giving portions of it to the Indians, as they were standing around (along with the dogs) looking hopeful. Roberto told us that the men spend what the women and kids make on booze, so they probably needed it; I really felt bad because humans were created with more dignity than that—you feed squirrels and jays in the national parks, not people!

              

Some of the gang prepares to hike to the bottom of the falls while the rest of us stay at the top and share our lunches with the dogs...

            

...and, sadly, the humans (the men evidently spend the money the women and kids make selling their trinkets on booze).  Meanwhile, another visitor enjoys the view from the top of the falls.

     

Said falls; yellow circle is where I eventually sat and enjoyed the view (and you’d never get away with that in the States...)

 

Rodrigo and our driver waving from across the way...

After lunch I went over to the top of the waterfalls and perched on the edge, watching our guys down below (again, something you’d never get away with in the States). Eventually Rodrigo got nervous and came over to sit with me and we had a nice chat; being a resident of Creel, he had been out many times, and agreed he had never seen this many people here before! (The area at the base of the falls was just crawling with "weekend warriors", in addition to half our crowd...) On the way back to safety a Mountain Trogon called from the hills, so at least we got one of ‘em!

Barry shares his lunch with an Indian boy at the bottom of the falls (I’m at the top taking this...)   

There’s an adobe house built into the side of the mountain; can you find it?

The trail-side shop of another Tarahumara Indian woman

After the crowd came back up we headed back; other mountain birds we picked up for the trip included Hairy Woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatch. Barry had been playing the Eared Quetzal tape ad nauseum, and a whee-chup in a tree overhead got us all excited, but it turned out to be a Steller’s Jay... We also had Western Bluebird in the more open areas. Oh, the dogs followed us all the way down and back, too!

     

L:  Mark checks out the stream on the way back.  R:  Back yard of the Indian woman washing her clothes (can you find her?) 

Stopped at horseshoe-shaped Arrereko Lake on the way back, where we were again inundated by Indians, but managed to pick up distant Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, American Wigeon, coots, Pied-billed Grebe, and Bufflehead. We then stopped at an authentic Tarahumara home which was literally inside a cave—beds, table, and all! I was truly impressed, because the cave on its own had many natural sleeping niches, and the stove was even set up so that the stack went through the rock! I think every kid fantasizes about living off the land, with just that kind of a setup!

Arrereko Lake

     

We visit a Tarahumara home, a true cave dwelling

     

The cave has several natural niches, perfect for sleeping areas!  "Mom” warms herself by the fire while Rodrigo acts as interpreter...

There was no shortage of puppies (made you wonder what they used them, for...) 

    

Heading back to Creel

We came back and I took a shower, but after that snuck into town (despite my aching feet) to get a flute for my friend Jon and some gum (or something), and ended up getting a whole mess of stuff that I was hoping I could pack away okay! (It did...) Then it was time to catch up on the journal. Dinner was down the street at a local place, complete with a Mariachi band made up of guitar, string base (that had seen better days), accordion, and saxophone! Charles was ready to die cuz he used to play sax semi-professionally... Barry got a kick out of it, though!

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