• Tuesday , 27 June 2017
The Sierra Madre Occidental ain’t no joke

The Sierra Madre Occidental ain’t no joke

This mountain range is rugged, remote, and had us completely spellbound by the wonder of it all. We left the Copper Canyon for the big city of Durango and found ourselves underdressed and looking like vagrants in a very sophisticated city with a well-dressed and hip population toting iPhones, gelato, and wearing proper evening attire (slacks and dresses).  We discovered that there was a free music concert at the town center so I decided to wear my “good” pants and button-down long sleeve shirt. What seemed okay when packing in Seattle turned out to be fashion suicide; both articles were slightly different shades of green and I looked like a miss-matched Forest Service intern. I wore grey shorts with the green shirt instead and simply looked like a budget tourist instead of a job applicant for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I broke one of my own cardinal rules: if you wouldn’t wear it with confidence around your hometown don’t think you’ll wear it proudly in a foreign city. IMG_0244 We were lucky enough to cross paths with fellow overland motorcyclists Terry, Sandy, and Jack from Adventure Trio (adventuretrio.com) in Durango and we all got to pal around this fantastic city together for an evening. We took in the tail end of the concert and watched the fireworks together.

Live music in Durango

IMG_0368 We have not seen the ocean since Northern California and were looking forward to crossing the mountains and hitting the coast for some tropical beach time in Mazatlan, good idea right? DSC00410 MEX-40 Libre is the old road connecting inland Durango to the coast and is called the “Devils Backbone”.  It is too long and twisty to make the journey comfortably in a day so we broke the trip in half and camped in the High Sierra Madres at around 9,000 feet elevation. We were all alone in a green pasture surrounded by pine forest. We froze our asses off as soon as the sun set. The next morning everything was wet with dew and we shivered as we loaded the bikes but eager with anticipation for the gentle caress of warm ocean breezes soon to come. The tent actually had condensation on the inside as well as the outside, weird. This was also our first real ‘rough’ camp where we got to dig our own holes to poop in. Our morning ablutions were ample justification; bringing a hand trowel 4,500 miles from Seattle was not in vain (there was a bathroom about a mile away but neither of us wanted to walk that far). IMG_0379 MEX-40 Libre was a treat to the senses as we wound through the mountains. The route on the GPS screen looked like a ball of string, the road was that twisty. We crested the range in late morning and began our decent. 5, 250 feet elevation: that is where you should buy land, build your homestead, and raise your family. Too bad there is no flat ground for another 60 miles. But, the temperature and humidity is so absolutely perfect and in-balance you probably don’t need food and water to sustain human life. Any elevation higher and it was too cold, anything lower got foggy and damp. As we continued to drop in in elevation the warm coastal air hit the cool mountain air creating fog and cloud forests. Further down still, the pines were replaced by tropical vegetation and clothes started getting stripped off at each rest stop. By the time we reached the coastal plain and were out of the foothills we were rotisserie chickens pretending to be adventure motorcyclists. DSC00417 Even the locals were commenting on how hot the weather is (that should have been our warning). Camping is not always such a good idea but we did it anyway. In Mazatlan and on the Pacific Coast near San Blas, Nayarit, we roughed it in the tent. Naked on top of the sleeping pad, bathed in sweat with every tent flap open. It was like the inside of a car left at the Death Valley Wal-Mart in August, at high noon, with all the windows rolled up and the poor doggy left inside. In this case the doggy had Shannon and I to share the misery. Does anyone make a ceiling fan for a tent?

The only time the tent was comfortable was first thing in the morning.

Speaking of the tent. In the last couple of weeks our poor home on the road has been violated multiple times by the local wildlife. Deep in the Copper Canyon, while camped in Urique, we awoke to find what appeared to be a pool of blood on top of the tent with rivulets running down one side. At closer inspection we determined it was a copious amount of bright red bird shit and we were happy not to come face to face with the creature that could do this kind of damage, it was most likely a pterodactyl.  It took a lot of elbow grease to clean it up and it permanently stained the tent. All fun and games until we woke up the following morning and the same bright red horror was oozing down the tent in the exact same spot. Then, camped near San Blas, we awoke to find that the pack of dogs kept by the owner of the field we were camped in had urinated on three sides of the tent and on both wheels of Shannon’s bike, yuck. IMG_0405 All of this is now forgotten. We are now in Sayulita, Nayarit at a wonderful beachside house generously donated to us for two full weeks by Shannon’s parents. We are back in the lap of luxury with fans, a pool, and ample space to unwind and catch up with friends who are stopping by for a visit. Time for an oil change and maintenance on the bikes, some gear repair, a good tent wash, and some updating to the website. All is good in the hood.

Mike likes bike maintenance

As we post this article the heat wave seems to have abated and the warm ocean breeze is finally all that. Today is the environmental equivalent of gummy bears and iced lemonade!

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