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Tres por uno Baja paseos (Canyon de Cobre sin cargo adicional)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScotsFire, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 16, 2020: Chinipas to Creel

    I had originally planned on hitting a remote lodge in order to do some hiking the following day. Weather forecast says hiking probably isn't going to be a thing for the next couple of days, which also suggests that riding motorcycles isn't the best idea either. So instead I headed east and a little north to Creel. I also determined to NOT let the prior day's experiences limit my enjoyment of the amazing views. Unless of course guys with guns don't want me to.

    I did walk around Chinipas, just a little bit anyway, looking for a spot for breakfast. The church downtown is a good example of how nice things are here.
    [​IMG]

    I actually laughed out loud when this happened at first, but everybody waved back on my way out of town.

    Leaving town, and really most of the day, the road was well packed down and mostly two lanes wide.
    [​IMG]
    Looking back towards Chinipas. I'm not sure I believe that they are really welcoming me.

    This is the mountain face I rode down the evening before.
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    Starting at the shallow pass upper left in this photo. If I weren't about to pee my pants, it'd been one of the neatest rides of my life.

    Same direction, another twenty klicks travel away.
    [​IMG]
    It is beautiful country.

    Fun riding too.
    [​IMG]
    Though as the dust shows, lots more traffic.

    Coming up on another mine, which turned out to be the largest I'd seen in the area.
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    I wish I could have seen this bush earlier when the flowers were just coming on.
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    [​IMG]
    More views of la mina, which I believe was for gold.
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    This is the path of a natural gas pipeline (I believe).
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    Quite the feat of engineering to get through the cliffs.

    The pine forests were quite different than what most think of Mexico.
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    Way different than Baja.

    Rugged country.
    [​IMG]
    And still fun riding.
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    [​IMG]

    At Bahuichivo, the road becomes paved.
    [​IMG]
    The disadvantage to where I stopped to air up my tires was having to pass this caravan of mine trucks taking ore out. They had a car with security following behind.

    This is like a lot of what I wanted to stop to take pictures of the day before, but was too chicken to do so.
    [​IMG]
    But without the pavement of course.

    It was more great views, but really nice curves most of the rest of the way to Creel. There were the normal inexplicable holes in the roadway, as well as rocks and such one needed to watch for. But mostly it was fast sweeps and twisties up and down. There were no issues with armed cartel players, though when I was stopped pumping air into my tires, four military guys got out of a civilian car at a pretty big roadside shrine. Then the car drove off. I later saw four more in the back of a civilian truck. Apparently the national guard has to hitch hike?
    The only possible indicator of the cartels were the couple of people sitting in tiny towns with smart phone and portable radio in their hands.

    It was a (needed) easy riding day that didn't lack a ton of fun. The only downside is I seem to be having some sort of fuel issue with the GS. It starts fine, but will then die. Start then die. After five or six times it will stay running. Then it died on me a couple of times while riding. I suspect I've got some bad gas, and am hoping that I don't need to replace the fuel filter, which is of course BMW proprietary and attached to the fuel pump, inside the fuel tank. Gotta love that German engineering.

    Plan is to stay in Creel two nights to wait out the weather, but who knows. Plans don't seem to be sticking lately. World wide.
  2. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Catching up after being off-grid for a bit. Appears you've had quite the ride over the last ~10 days or so @ScotsFire. The vibe you described in that town would have freaked me out too, especially traveling solo and being a gringo.

    Beautiful scenery and pics, and the story has been great to read. I'd bet that if you showed most of those mountain pics to peeps here in the US, they'd never guess that you were in Mexico - they probably think it's all flat and desert.

    Hope you're able to get the fueling issue resolved, not a great place to have to contend with it. And yeah - inline fuel filter inside the tank attached to the pump. Reminds me of spending 2+ hours at the Manson family ranch in DV as a buddy pulled his tank and fuel pump off his Katoom trying to figure out why the stupid thing was cutting out. Fun times :lol3 :lol3

    Safe travels and keep the knobby side down man.
    ScotsFire likes this.
  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Real time update: March 20

    State Department says border will close soon (as yet undefined) so am headed to the border. In Creel now, last night in Batopilas.

    Amazing riding yesterday. Now to burn some miles.
    td63 likes this.
  4. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    I'm 13 miles north of Tucson if you need a place to stay. You aren't allergic to bleach, are you? ;)
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  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Safe travels @ScotsFire, hope the border crossing isn't a complete clusterf*ck. Probably gonna suck not being able to stop and take pictures, I know that always irks me when I have to make time on a ride as part of the enjoyment in doing trips is documenting them with images and video.

    Stay safe man.
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  6. Phlyn' Phil

    Phlyn' Phil Been here awhile

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    latest news says saturday at midnight for non essential travel, so as an american Im sure you would get back in at any time though, grab some lunch at el paisano in villa ahumada if you get a chance, good stuff for sure...
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  7. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Crossed the border last night in Douglas. Will ride on the US side of the border to Tecate CA and get the truck today. Couple more days in that back home, I hope.

    I may not get more pics up till I get home, but we’ll see. Thanks everyone for the kind words and support.
  8. radmann10

    radmann10 Derf Supporter

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    Thanks for posting your RR, great pictures and narrative.
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  9. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

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    Thank you for keeping this RR updated. You've been riding in my favorite places and I've been following along with great interest. Now that the apocalypse is apparently upon us, I wish I would have made time to ride Baja while I could! Glad to see that you're [almost] home safe.
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  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Glad you made it across @ScotsFire, listening to the news this morning and it sounds like they just closed the US-MX border :(:(

    Hope the journey home is uneventful and you're able to get the trip you had planned with your g/f in place for later in the year.
    ScotsFire likes this.
  11. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Just enjoyed In-n-Out with Bob in Tucson. He should be 1/2 way to Tecate and his truck by now. He got fresh gas and fuel injector cleaner and his bike is running perfectly. We had to sit on the curb...they wouldn't even let us use the outside tables!
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  12. BA Chipmunk

    BA Chipmunk BA

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    I’ve been on Inga past two days 56f and sunny back here so I’m trying to get my break in miles over with. It’s very difficult keeping her under 6k rpm but I’m doing my best! What a blast! So far the only off road I’ve gotten is on the front 10 acres, 300 miles on the OD now so prob hit the ORV park this coming weekend to see how she does in the dirt. So far very impressed overall and definitely an upgrade from the KLR, different world ....
    Be your ass home so we can get a ride in together brother!
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  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Made it home last night and not even too late. I-15 from just east of Barstow to Butte then west on I-90 to CdA. Around 16 hours, a bit less than I (or Google) expected. I was probably pushing the acceptable speed.
    Passed an amazing number of Canadian RV’s headed north.

    Will try to get caught up on the RR today, between nap times.
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  14. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

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    ScotsFire likes this.
  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Chinipas was a beautiful town, and as you said extremely clean. Every street was paved, no trash around, and even the vegetation is neatly trimmed. The only town that was similar in that respect was Batopilas, which also has a reputation for some cartel involvement. I had a great vibe from Batopilas.

    I will readily admit that my perception of Chinipas is clearly affected by seeing the two armed groups earlier. I easily may have overreacted to the locals, and who knows what kind of vibes I was putting off.

    A Mexican woman I was speaking to in Batopilas seemed to have the opinion that Chinipas is a pretty scary place. But I'd go back given the opportunity, but would take the main road in the next time.
  16. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 17 & 18: Creel (Rain delay)

    Not a ton to report from Creel. It is a tourist town that is a favorite place to get onto the Copper Canyon Train, and thus has lots of visitor facilities. Hotels, restaurants, and gift shops abound. While I appreciated the abundance of places to eat, I'm not that into shopping for souvenirs. Hotel Los Valles was reasonably priced and clean, if the normal small room. Also had a little corner that kept the bike out of sight and mostly out of the rain.
    [​IMG]

    Stores had stuff.
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    Say what you will. The Mexicans do have some things right.

    Only place I could find with an espresso machine was a bakery that was only open in the afternoons.
    [​IMG]

    The Tarahumira, the local indigenous people, are very prevalent in Creel and the surrounding area. On top of the trinket shops, there are quite a few natives selling items they have manufactured. This includes their children. One little girl that looked like she was four tried to sell me some beaded doo-dahs, including a key fob that I thought @NotaYinzer might like. She probably wasn't four as her speaking was better than most toddlers I know, and the Tarahumira are a very short people, with most of the adults being less than five feet tall. She asked thirty pesos for it, which I didn't have that in even bills. She wasn't interested in coming down to 28 pesos, which I had in change. I handed her a fifty, which she immediately said Gracias for and started to walk away. Hell no. I insisted on vente in change, and all of a sudden her Spanish was worse than mine. I returned the fob, and took the bill back. No way I'm getting shook down by a forty pound kid.

    Otherwise, I didn't have much to do. The Tarahumira museum is interesting, tho it was being remodeled while I was there. Some nice historic pictures and examples of artwork.

    Overall, Creel is not a bad place to take a day off. It just wasn't the best place to hide from the rain. With no foot traffic due to the rain, a lot of the stores and even restaurants were closed on the day it rained the hardest. And rain it did. I'd guess it dropped nearly two inches in the one afternoon. It also kept me from figuring out what was up with the fuel on my bike since I had nowhere to mess with it out of the weather.

    Fortunately the forecast was a lot better after the third night.
  17. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Bravo por no dejar que ese pequeño tímido se aproveche de ti. The nerve of that little vole! 20 pesos es de 20 pesos! :dirtdog
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  18. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 19, 2020: Copper Canyon Pt 1 - Creel to Urique

    The weather in the morning was mostly clear and sunny, as forecast. Finally able to look in to the fuel issue, I suspected some bad gas. This seems to have been the issue as after siphoning out as much fuel as I could, then adding fuel injector cleaner with some fresh premium, the scooter started easily and ran like a champ.

    I had told my GF that I wanted to stay on pavement all day given the amount of rain the previous two days. It looked like it was that way on the satellite view. So I headed south back on the road I came into Creel on, the highway to Bahuichivo.
    [​IMG]
    I stopped a lot more, not realizing the first time through how nice the views were.

    Deciding to take the marked pull offs, I was rewarded quickly.
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    The road runs along ridgelines, and with the banks and vegetation, one can't see this much while passing by.
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    Deciding to continue pulling off, I hit this place.
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    It is a small town, but most will know this as a tourist spot/compound. It was worth the 25 pesos entry fee (especially at current exchange rates, just over a buck).

    [​IMG]
    Definitely a dollar view.
    [​IMG]
    Or more.

    There are several developed view spots.
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    Most of my family would not have enjoyed this one.

    There were some attractions, as well as a restaurant. Lots of souvenir stalls, most of which operated by Tarahumira.

    And a zip line.
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    To that building WAY out on that point.
    [​IMG]
    Now I'm not afraid of heights, but it would have taken an available engineering and safety report, in English, for me to try this thing.
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    Upwards to eighty miles per hour? Cool, as long as it's mostly horizontal travel. Also, one had to hike back.

    There was also a gondola for those slightly more acrophobic.
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    Given current events, this also seemed like a bad idea. Closed up with another twenty people from all over the place. No thanks.

    Watch that first step.
    [​IMG]

    Back on the road.[​IMG]

    I stopped just out of Bahuichivo.
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    The rail line runs through here. The railroad carries ore out of the mountains as well as the tourist train.
    [​IMG]

    Not a very deep root system I'm sure.
    [​IMG]

    Lunch in Bahuichivo was pretty good. The GS parked out front got a lot of looks. Not too many big bikes coming through it seems. One boy stood a few feet away waiting to watch me start it up and leave.

    The road south is paved.
    [​IMG]
    And pretty, if not quite the deep canyons of before. (Don't worry. They'll be back)

    Road engineering in Mexico is interesting.
    [​IMG]

    Before very long, the pavement ended. Yeah, so I lied before. It also was smelling very nice.
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    Lupine were in bloom, but only in some limited areas.
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    As I was riding along, I was struck by how familiar parts of this was.
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    This totally looks like the Panhandle National Forest.

    And then it didn't.
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    [​IMG]

    The road into Urique must drop four thousand feet to the valley floor. It was 52 degrees F where I took this picture.
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    And 74 way down there in town.

    Barranca de Urique (Urique Canyon) is the deepest of the "Copper Canyon" gorges. There are several canyons in the region collectively called Copper Canyon.
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    The riding was a ton of fun along the cliffs.
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    And some steep descents.
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    [​IMG]
    Mirador Cerro del Gallego Cañón de Urique, a well known view point, is in this area. I rode past it, not recognizing it for what it was, as it looked like a privately owned area. I had also read somewhere that the road was paved all the way up to this viewpoint. Well, it's not. I will definitely stop there if I get back through in the future, which I hope happens.

    The road stayed very scenic and fun the whole way down.
    [​IMG]

    I finally found some of this flowering bush in fresh bloom.
    [​IMG]

    The road into Urique is paved near town, though it was rougher than most of the dirt.
    [​IMG]
    One needs to watch for falling rock too.

    I didn't really look around Urique at all. It was around three in the afternoon. Maps.me said it was only two hours to Batopilas, though Google Maps said four. I figured that splitting the difference was probably pretty safe, and would still get me there before dark. Can't really say what pushed me to the decision, but hit the road immediately back into the mountains.
    td63 and liv2day like this.
  19. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 19, 2020: Copper Canyon Pt 2 - Urique to Batopilas

    If you haven't figured this out yet, I tend to not plan too far ahead. Which is odd given that I was in planning on Incident Management Teams, and given time before something going on will go into deep detail. But normally, I'm more of an intuitive decision maker (impulsive has such negative connotations). So off I went in the late afternoon, back into the sticks.

    The views were as nice from the canyon floors as from the heights.
    [​IMG]

    The road out of Urique headed south is right along the river.
    [​IMG]
    The rivers seemed to be running a little high due to the rain over the previous couple of days. But not an issue. Here anyway.

    After crossing the Rio Urique by bridge at the next community, up started.
    [​IMG]

    Looking back down the road.
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    The overcast occasionally looked threatening, but it didn't rain at all during the day. And sometimes, the sun would peek out.
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    Up takes the road that way.
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    You can just see the switch backs creeping up the face.

    And looking back down from where I'd come.
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    Again, steep seemed to be the norm.
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    The reason I had "wanted" to stick to pavement was to let the effects of the rain diminish.
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    Probably should have stuck with that idea. No issues or damage from the drop. Mud was pretty sticky. Picked up a couple of inches on the bottoms of my boots walking out and back for this pic.

    But no regrets for the ride.
    [​IMG]

    When the sun did come out some, it really illuminated the terrain.
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    Stay on target.
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    I may have said this a time or two, but the riding was incredible.
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    The views spectacular.
    [​IMG]

    Almost to the top.[​IMG]
    It took over an hour to climb up out of the Urique gorge.

    The next bit, also around an hour, was along ridge tops and on high plateaus, so really didn't seem that crazy of country, other than the mud. Till you took a few steps over a little saddle.
    [​IMG]
    The Rio Batopilas gorge. A ways off yet.

    Impressive country.
    [​IMG]

    I kind of want to come back some day and see where that squiggly road goes to.
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    Probably just asking for trouble, but it's what I do.

    Pretty easy to see the angle of the sun when it showed itself.
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    The rays of sunlight were really neat.
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    Still some down to take care of though.
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    Dropping down into this canyon only took around 45 minutes.

    There were some hazards other than gravity.
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    There was a river crossing a couple miles north of Batopilas. Not just a water crossing, a full on river.
    (Video 1:04, no music)

    I underestimated the strength of the current. Just past half way across, it started pushing me towards the edge of the roadway. So I goosed it a little which seemed to help, or at least reduce the time of exposure.
    Looking back after crossing.
    [​IMG]
    It really would not have been a good thing to drop off that roadway. As always, it's better to be lucky than good.

    Batopilas! What a neat town. It's essentially one main street above the rivers edge and a row of buildings on each side. A couple of foot bridges cross to houses on the other side of the river. While it was getting dark as I entered town, I immediately got a good vibe. Families were out, as is common in Mexico in the evening, and they mostly seemed friendly and waved. I stayed at Hotel Juanitas, parking the bike in the courtyard, and had supper at Carolines. Something was blossoming, as the scent was very strong. A very interesting and beautiful town that I really want to come back to someday.
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  20. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    March 19, 2020: Copper Canyon Addendum

    There're some things that I don't feel I adequately discussed in the previous two posts.

    Firstly, the anxiety from the ride to Chinipas. While I don't want to minimize how coming across the armed groups made me feel, I do think that I let it overwhelm me a little too much. When I first got to Creel I very nearly called off any further travel.
    Of course there were other issues on my mind too:
    • The novel coronavirus issues, especially back in the US. I knew it was stressful for my GF to be handling the uncertainty on her own (she's plenty tough enough to handle things, but when you have someone else in your life it is much more comforting to face challenges together) and I felt a little guilty to be out galivanting around rural Mexico. On top of that I volunteer as a firefighter and knew that I could be useful there.
    • The fueling issue. One always assumes the worst case scenario, and for those that propose that something simple like the DR650 is the perfect bike for this type of travel, the fuel filter attached to the fuel pump INSIDE the fuel tank of the F800GS is certainly an argument in their favor. (Note: Guglatech filter was ordered this morning.)
    But the three nights in Creel gave me time to step back from the ledge and decide that with at most two additional days I could get the highest priority target areas taken care of and then be free to head north.

    This was a major factor in the decision in Urique to continue the ride through to Batopilas. I knew it would be pushing it to get into Batopilas before dark, but felt that I was close enough to make it work.

    Continuing the ride after the rain break was absolutely the right one. The day of riding from Creel through Urique to Batopilas is near if not at the top of my "best days of riding ever" list. It was EXACTLY the experience I was hoping for in riding the Copper Canyon. The pictures and commentary don't come close to just how awesome it was. Even with the mud and other challenges and the general lack of sunshine, it was truly epic. I will definitely be back to this area in the future, hopefully as part of a greater exploration of Mexico.

    And lastly, there was a text message from @NotaYinzer waiting for me in Batopilas (Cell service there! Whoodathunk?) The State Department was advising that the border would be closed soon, possibly a hard closure. The writing on the wall was "If you want to come home, best do it now." So north it was.