25 August 2009


This is the Sierra de Catorce mountain range as seen in the distance from the desert campsite below. I readily concede that these are not the Rockies. They are not overwhelming. However, they made for a truly pleasurable experience for me on August 24.

One of the mountains is Quemado, a holy mountain to the Huichol Indians. I will not bore you with a lot of the ins and outs of that. Suffice it to say that there is a huge Huichol pilgrimage to the mountain once a year for a week of ceremonies atop it. This is the mountain that Fabien, Maga, and I hiked up.

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If I behave well, if I do not walk the wrong path, if my soul and heart are good and clean, then the gods welcome me. It does not matter if my hat is old and my clothes are torn. If my heart is good, I am converted into a reflection of the gods, as with a mirror. . . .Huichol Thought [My rough translation.]

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Fabien had been backpacking to this mountain twice previously, and Maga once previously with him. The hike from downtown Real up to the top takes about two and a half hours and is fairly demanding. Fabien and I both carried small backpacks with food and water. Maga, her Croc Caymans on her feet as usual, led the way.

I am going to post some pictures chronologically, comment on some, and let others speak for themselves. These scenes are samples of what I saw from the path on the way up in the order they appeared. Click on any that interest you in order to see a larger format.

The suburbs of Real de Catorce.

This is an elaborate set of ruins that straddles one of the roads into town. It is fascinating. Notice that it incorporates a couple of gates through which the road passes. I simply do not know what it is, perhaps some sort of customs house. I wish I did.

Looking back at the city.

I have seen burros at work many times but never in the mountains. I have an entirely new appreciation for them now.

I have seen Mexicans at work many times but never in the mountains. I have an entirely new appreciation for them now. This man is pulling a large section of plastic pipe up the path.

Nearing the summit.

Up there.

Real bread, thin-sliced Mexican sausage, cow cheese, flavored water, chocolate, and tuna--not the fish, but rather the prickly pear from the napole cactus that yields a scarlet, incredibly sweet fruit. (The Spanish word for the fish is atun, strangely enough.)

Almost home.

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Ruth said...

Gorgeous, Steve. There's a real beauty in being able to see the bones of the land, without it's being all covered up in spinach.

Barb said...

Well said, Ruth. You are really developing an eye in these photos, Steve. How many people do you thinking are actually living in the area that you hiked?

Señor Steve said...

Gosh, Barb, I would have no way to estimate that. One gets a feel for the size of the city by area, but only a fraction of the structures are actually occupied.

In the big days of the silver mines there were 15,000 people in the city. At the time of the Revolution in 1910, that was down to 1,000. There are considerably more than 1,000 back in there now, but I can find no information on the current population.

The area is most definitely very sparsely populated.

Candy Minx said...

Fantaistc. It's like seeing you in the Sierra Madre movie. Gorgeous land. I love it. I also loved the beautiful quote you included.