5. Discovery

Chapters: Escaping the Heat | El Salto | Into the Valley | Dogs in the Night | Hiking the Valley, Hunger Lurks | Discovery | La Ciudad

Robert’s feet were hardening and we continued in the morning. At the next community, we turned off the road to try for more tortillas. Three men lounged outside another log cabin. A little girl played in the yard near some saddled horses. The men greeted us cordially but after explaining ourselves to them, they said the woman was in town and there were no tortillas to be had.

Fine. We could stick to our self-imposed diet.

One of the men said La Ciudad was only two hours away so we hurried on because the horizon was growing dark again.

Strange Rock Formations

Encountering a well-used road that looked like it might lead to a town, we left the railroad bed. Soon, we stood among rocks of bizarre shapes, like gigantic, fat, cow plops. There were also real ones, of course, since there were cows grazing around the rocks, but their plops were much smaller.

Then another surprise. In the distance, across a large stream, we spotted a group of people, not dressed like the families we had encountered. They had hiking jackets and boots like ours. We even debated if they could be Americans. What greeting to use? English or Spanish?

Drawing closer, we saw that most were boys, setting up tents and tidying up their camp. Dropping our packs we crossed the creek on a log bridge. We introduced ourselves to Sr. Xavier Rosales who supervised the activities. He had lived in the US for several years, but spoke better Latin and Greek than English because he had been studying at a seminary.  They all were from a high school in Torreon where he taught. Many of the boys had never been to the mountains and they were certainly enjoying themselves. They had ridden the bus to La Ciudad that morning and walked in the rest of the way to this well known camping area. Well known to everyone but us, it seemed, and the AAA map makers. The good news was that La Ciudad was only 5 kilometers away. I told Sr. Rosales that I was impressed that the boys packed all their gear in from the road, but he said they had hired the small boys from town to carry their loads in the wheelbarrows used to haul firewood home from the nearby mill. Sr. Rosales warned us that the water in the creek we had crossed tasted like turpentine because the sawmill dumps its sawdust right into it. Other creeks were not affected.

Boy and His Shelter

Because of an impending storm and our fatigue, we set up our camp, across the stream from the boys. We napped as the storm pelted our tent and then explored the area. We hopped around on the rocks as much as our feet would stand and returned to the tent for some coffee which Señor Rosales had given us. Our hunger was temporarily appeased. We were still too tired to try for La Ciudad that day.

Sun greeted us the next morning. We felt refreshed and eager to see more of the rocks. We photographed each other standing beside the odd shapes and in simulated rock climbing poses. The array covered acres of ground and when our initial curiosity was satisfied, we returned to camp to tend to more mundane chores like laundry. We spread damp socks and T-shirts on the bushes to dry and added our wool shirts to air them out.

Done with that, we returned to the creek to check on the boys’ activities. Looking back down the creek, we realized that the water seemed to disappear and the forest view dropped significantly. From another angle we looked back to the top of a thundering waterfall that poured into a canyon. The drop and size compared well with popular ones at home. I pegged it for a tourist attraction.

Waterfall Near the Rocks

“This is amazing,” Robert said. “These rock formations and this waterfall are incredible.” Caught up in our discovery, he went on, “Let’s write this up for National Geographic. It’s a natural.” I liked the idea, but somewhere in my memory I had read that photographers for National Geographic shot thousands of photos, and most writers were well known to them, but I was willing to go along with the fantasy.

We were getting hungry and shelved our ambitions in order to head for La Ciudad and a hot meal. The sun was bright when we left but after the easy walk to town without our packs the sky began to darken.


Go to the next chapter: La Ciudad