Monday, June 29, 2009

Barranca Yerba Buena Part 3 - The Upper Falls

Upper falls of Barranca Yerba Buena drop vertically from the plateau above. On our first hike into the Barranca (see Part 1), we explored the the lower canyon and penetrated the entrance of the inner gorge. On our second, we explored the length of the inner gorge and made it to the reddish sandstone cul de sac that supposedly ended the canyon and culminated in a beautiful high falls (see Part 2). However, when we examined the Google satellite maps and some photos by some previous Mexican hikers, it appeared that there might be yet another high cascade. This final cascade was out of view from far below in the cul de sac, and was possibly around a bend of the canyon. Frankly, I had some doubts about its existence, thinking that perhaps the two photos left on Google by the previous hikers had been of the same falls from different angles. Google satellite photos are notoriously tricky to interpret, and the last section of the Barranca showed little more than deep shadow. For there to be another falls above meant that the drop from the plateau was much sharper and deeper than we had imagined. Another Barranca mystery to be solved!

We set off through a remote ranch on the high plateau south of the Barranca. (Right to Left) Norm, Bob, and Tom move past an adobe outbuilding. Larry is behind me and I, of course, am once again behind the camera. To reach the Barranca from the top, we had to drive completely around the mountains into which the Barranca cuts. At the end of a very long dirt road, we found the reservoir from which the stream flows which creates the falls and runs at the base of the Barranca. The road dead-ended at the gate of a farm, apparently with no one about. A sign on the gate said "private property" in Spanish, which gave us pause. If we wanted to reach the top of the Barranca, there was no other way but to climb the gate. Reasoning that it is easier to seek forgiveness than to gain permission, and hoping there were no trigger-happy farmers with shotguns about, we collectively took a deep breath and climbed over. Ultimately we had to scale a half dozen more fences along the way.

The only one standing guard was this fellow. As we made our way from meadow to meadow, we encountered a small herd of cattle. The cows were apparently the harem of this strikingly handsome bull, which appears to be a Brahman. He wasn't overly aggressive, but he obviously didn't care for our passage through the middle of his herd. He seemed somewhat relieved when we finally passed on.

Kniphofia uvaria, a flower that looks like skyrockets exploding. We passed by this group of wildly colorful flowers in the yard of another outbuilding. Kniphofia is also known as Torch Lily and Red Hot Poker, for obvious reasons. It originated in South Africa and has spread to many areas of the world including, remarkably, this remote ranch in the mountains of Jalisco, Mexico. I identified this flower with the help of my expert on Mexican wildflowers, Ron Parsons.

The top of the plateau is rolling, wooded farm and ranch country. The curving line of green trees in the photo above follows the line of the creek which flows from the reservoir to the falls. Rather than following the creek, we took a path which promised to take us around the lip of the chasm. We hoped to see the falls from above. It was a cool, gray day, perfect for hiking and for photographs. We hoped the dark clouds would not turn into a daytime rainstorm, and we were lucky.

We could hear the falls before we could see them. Then, finally, the trees along the edge of the gorge opened up and there they were--the mysterious upper falls. These were clearly not the falls we had approached from below on our 2nd hike; they were on the opposite side of the canyon, for one thing. The drop from the lip of the falls to the pool below is at least 100 feet, and possibly more.

The lip of the upper falls. I took this telephoto shot of where the stream emerges from the dense woods and abruptly plunges almost vertically to the pool below. I wouldn't have wanted to come blindly stumbling through the woods and along the creek looking for this spot and suddenly find myself in mid-air. That's how abruptly the drop occurs.

Water turns to mist on its way down the sheer rock face. This small section of the middle of the falls gives an idea of the almost 90 degree drop of the falls. You would have a fair amount of time to consider your folly if you slipped on the edge of this falls. At least until the sudden stop.

Bob and Tom compare notes on the route. Both of them are retired doctors. Tom was a dermatologist, and Bob was a veterinarian. Bob grew up as a cowboy on remote ranches and is a storehouse of fascinating and hilarious cowboy stories right out of the Old West. Not surprisingly, he is also very good with animals, as you will see later.

Kapok trees and their flowers are found throughout the mountains of Jalisco. Because the fruit of the Kapok floats, some believe that the Kapok ended up in Latin America by floating across the Atlantic from Africa. The Kapok has a multitude of uses, from the easily carved wood, to the oil of the seeds used for food and medicine, to the silky material around its bloom which was stuffed into World War II life jackets.

The mouth of a cave loomed beside the trail. When one of my fellow hikers stepped inside, he encountered a live bat, which promptly fled. We have found a number of similar caves on our hikes into the Barranca, all of which showed evidence of human use. Humans have been hiking through these canyons for thousands of years. There is every reason to believe that some proto-Indian sat at the mouth of this cave admiring the Barranca in some past millenium, just as were were admiring it now.
View of the lower canyon, looking north. While the lower canyon looks relatively shallow from this angle, it is not. Eventually, the canyon ends just before the highway that bypasses the small farm town of Citala. Looking across the valley, you can see a long green escarpment passing across the upper part of the picture from right to left. On the sheer edge of this steep escarpment is Windy Point, the lookout point from which I first spotted Barranca Yerba Buena.

Windy Point, a little closer. If you look at where the light green ridge in the background drops down behind the dark green escarpment, and move your eye just slightly to the left, you will see a lone tree sticking up above the others at the edge of the cliff. This is Windy Point, at the extreme range of my telephoto. You are looking due north, from the plateau at the mouth of the inner gorge of Barranca Yerba Buena. For a look in exactly the opposite direction from Windy Point, click here.

Below the escarpment, sunlight plays across the countryside above Atontonilco. The clouds opened up across the valley and sent golden beams down to lighten up the foothills at the base of the escarpment below Windy Point. Atontonilco is probably even smaller than Citala. The smoke you can see in the lower right quarter of the photo is probably from a farmer burning the weeds off his recently harvested field.

The illusion of a rope. At first glance, this seemed to be a rather well-braided hemp rope looped around a branch. It is actually a vine. Someone in our party remarked that this was probably how humans figured out how to braid a rope. Nature shows the way. I found the vine to be enormously strong when I tried to break through one while doing a little bushwhacking off-trail.

Celery Man gains a fan. Our trail down the lip of the gorge ended in a farmer's field surrounded by rough walls made of volcanic stone. While we were enjoying the view and considering our return hike, this little burro came up to investigate. He was wearing a crude wooden saddle, but his owner was no where in sight. At first he was a little skittish about our attempts to pet him. Then Bob pulled out a small package of celery he had brought, along with some peanut butter, as part of his lunch. "I'll bet this guy has never tasted celery before," said Bob with a twinkle in his eye. The burro was immediately interested and the expression on his face was of one who has died and discovered himself in heaven. He thought the celery was the best thing since, well, celery. After a bit, running low on celery, Bob decided to dip it in peanut butter. The burro was entranced, although he had the same difficulty getting the substance off the roof of his mouth that humans do. When we moved up the field to leave, he looked very distressed and came galloping after us, obviously thinking "where's that guy going with my celery and peanut butter!" And that's how Bob became "Celery Man".

This concludes my three part series on Barranca Yerba Buena. There are still mysteries to be solved, however. We never discovered whether it is possible to get down into the gorge at the base of the upper falls. We found a way from the reservoir along top of the falls down to the eastern side of plateau overlooking the Barranca, but we never found a way down from there into the outer canyon or the inner gorge. Those explorations will have to wait for future hikes in this wonderful rugged canyon. Stay tuned!

Hasta luego! Jim

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barranca Yerba Buena Part 2 - The Inner Gorge

White water cascades through green trees in the inner gorge. Our initial exploration (see Part 1) of Barranca Yerba Buena whetted our appetites for further exploration. The outer canyon with its progressively larger waterfalls and multiple mysteries drew us back for another attempt to reach the end of the canyon. We had heard from local Mexicans that there would be at least one--maybe more--very large falls further up the canyon. On our last visit we had reached the inner gorge but we turned back close to the end, having run out of time.

The hiking team for second attempt. Left to right: Chris, Bob, Becca, Larry, Tom. I, of course, am on the camera. Because our original hike up the outer canyon had consumed so much time, we decided to see if we could bypass it this time and drop directly down to the entrance of the inner gorge. To do this, we examined Google satellite maps and found some farm roads that follow along the rim of the inner canyon on the west side. The entrance to the road is on the south side of the Citala highway near the Kilometer 16 sign. We followed the rough farm road up the sloping plateau until Bob's low-slung van couldn't go any further, then parked in a field. We were still unsure of our way because satellite maps are notorious for making a stone wall appear like a viable road. Our route was good, however, and we found the new bulldozer road that we hoped would take us down into the canyon.

Entrance of the inner gorge from the "dozer" road. On our first expedition, Chris had become separated and ventured up this road from the canyon bottom, thinking the rest of our party might have headed that way. Now we were moving in the reverse direction. As you can see, the walls of the inner gorge are very steep. The next picture was taken from near the top of the hill you see on the left. Although the bulldozer road looks level in the picture above, it is actually extremely steep. Only an ATV or a dirt motorcycle could have made it back up, unless you were in possession of a bulldozer. I noted on the way down that the return trip would likely be tough in the hot afternoon sun. I wasn't wrong.

The bulldozer road, from across the canyon. This picture was actually taken on our third expedition into the canyon, but I include it here to give a sense of the terrain we crossed.
The drop into the canyon may look gradual, but it was not. Behind the plateau from which the dozer road snakes down you can see the farm town of Citala and the countryside beyond

The base of the inner gorge was thickly canopied with multiple layers of vegetation. This gave it a cool, shady aspect that was refreshing. So was the rushing brown stream at our feet.

One mystery solved. On our previous hike, we had followed a metal water pipe, discovering by trial and error that if we stayed within 50 feet on either side, we would generally find the path. We wondered about the source of the water flowing through this pipe, assuming it would be the reservoir on the plateau above the end of the canyon. However, the pipe ended not too far into the inner gorge at this small stone and concrete cistern. The cistern itself was fed by the multiple plastic pipes you can see above. But where did they come from?

Not the proverbial ladder to success. The plastic pipes extended up the cliff face in various directions to the springs above. I climbed the rickety, hand-hewn ladder to a point where one of its two supports had rotted and broken and several handholds were missing. Another example of the rustic maintenance methods one finds in rural Mexico. Since the muddy and probably polluted water in the stream flows ultimately through Citala, the purpose of these pipes has to be drinking water from (hopefully) unpolluted springs. The mystery of the pipe and its purpose was solved.

Large moth hides in a crevice. Along the trail we had to squeeze around several precipitous rocky outcrops. Under one of these, right where you needed to put your hand for support, we found this large and beautifully marked moth. The moth took no heed of us as all six hikers passed very closely one by one.

Rough water at the head of a cascade. The water roared and pulsed through a narrow gap in the rocks and then plunged down a 20 foot cascade to a large pool below. I suggested to Tom that he should slide down the falls for the unusual experience and great photography it would provide. To my disappointment, he declined.

Another log crossing. This log bridge was further up the canyon than the one seen in Part 1. Tom, on the left, watches closely as Bob gingerly sidles across. This canyon has more thrills than an amusement park.

Milkweed flower at the canyon bottom. Formally known as Asclepias, possibly of the fascicularis species. Milkweed is widespread around the world. It has been used by native peoples as a source of poison for hunting and war arrows. Milkweed is a common folk remedy for warts, and was used as a source of insulating fibre during World War II. Both the Germans and the US tried to find a way to use it as a source of rubber, but neither was particularly successful. This particular variety was very pretty, a good enough purpose for me.

Bob tries the footbridge. This was the terminal point of our last attempt to reach the end of the canyon. To say that it looked "iffy" doesn't do its precariousness justice. It was right up Bob's alley. I decided that, as a photographer, my best place was on solid ground recording Bob's potential misadventure. He did all right, though.

Our goal almost in sight. Through the trees, past the small waterfall, we could see naked sandstone cliff walls and hear the roar of a much bigger cascade. We still weren't certain, because the many twists and turns of the canyon had fooled us before.

Tom reaches the head of the canyon. Tom was in the lead, and I took this shot to give some scale and perspective to the overwhelming height and sheerness of the sandstone canyon walls.

The "cascada grande" at last. We had finally reached one of the really big waterfalls that the local Mexicans had promised. The canyon appeared to stop here, but we couldn't see much of the top, and so couldn't be sure there wasn't another level.

Top of the waterfall. With my telephoto, I was able to capture this shot of the point where the brown water shoots over the lip and cascades down almost vertically. Although the spraying water looks white here, you can see brown droplets caught in mid-air near the top.

In its long drop, the water almost turns to mist. This shot captures part of the mid-section of the falls as the water smashed into tiny droplets on its roaring drop to the bottom.

Brown mist drifts down into the pool at the bottom. The constant moisture from the falls has promoted the growth of ferns in this semi-desert system. The water has returned to its usual cafe con leche color.

Moss grows on the rock walls beside the cascade's pool. The vivid greenness of this moss against the reddish rock caught my eye. Since this was the dry season, I wondered how wet it must get down here when the rains come. Perhaps we shall see on another trip.

Erosion has created sharp edges and grooves in the walls above the cascade pool. I have always been interested in the effect of erosion on rock, what it takes and what it leaves behind.

Small plants find a livelihood in the crevices created in the rock by erosion. The action by the plant roots themselves contributes to the cycle of erosion. Life is tenacious, and will nearly always find a way.

A small cave, high up on the cliff face. I spotted this cave behind a ledge part way up the canyon wall. It didn't look very deep, but from my angle, I couldn't be sure. Without ropes and some very serious rock climbing, there was no way to tell.

Tom, Bob, and Larry compare notes at the waterfall's base. You can see the scale of the falls with something to compare it to, in this case my hiking companions. The top of the waterfall is out of sight, so you don't really get the full scale comparison, but this does pretty well. The extraordinary aspect of this canyon is the amount of water that flows through it, even at the hottest time of the year in a part of the Lake Chapala area I expected to find drier than the proverbial bone.

Lovers in the canyon. While leaning against this tree below the falls, I suddenly noticed this large heart with the initials of lovers inside. Some romantic had appreciated the beauty of this place and inscribed a message to his (or her) loved one. I was amused that the language and symbols of love appear to be identical in Mexico and north of the border. I also took it as a statement of love for the place, a feeling I certainly shared.

This concludes Part 2 of my series on Barranca Yerba Buena. In the next and final part, we explore the rim of the inner gorge and discover a second huge waterfall further into the gorge.
I hope you can join us in about a week for the final adventure. I always appreciate comments, which you can leave in the section below or email to me directly. Also, feel free to send a link to this blog to family or friends you think might enjoy it.

Hasta luego, Jim

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Waterfalls of Barranca Yerba Buena - Part 1

Barranca Yerba Buena begins at the south end of the small farm-town of Citala. In Spanish, "barranca" refers to a steep-walled ravine. That definition certainly fits the one called Yerba Buena (defined either as "good grass" or "mint tea"). We discovered Barranca Yerba Buena on our visit to Windy Point, south of Lake Chapala near the small city of Tuxcueca. Standing on Windy Point's precipitous escarpment and looking south across the valley below, I spied a deep canyon cut into the plateau on the opposite side of the valley, just at Citala's southern limits. The inner walls looked very high and sheer and promised a real hiking adventure. Adding to my growing excitement, I could find no other hikers who had hiked or even heard of it. Mystery and adventure!

Part 1 of this adventure looks at the first of our 3 hikes into the canyon. We launched each of these hikes from a different direction, and made interesting and sometimes spectacular discoveries on each one. Parts 2 and 3 will cover the hikes we made on two successive Tuesdays after our first effort. Even with 3 extensive explorations, there still remain unexplored aspects to Barranca Yerba Buena.

Beginning the hike: the mouth of the outer canyon. We left the car at the trailhead just south of the highway across from Citala near highway milepost #15 of the Carretera Milpilla-Tuxcueca). The access to the trailhead is a cobblestone road directly across the highway from Ramon Corona, a street which leads into Citala. A hundred yards or so up the cobblestone road is a steel gate on the right where you can park and walk down. The canyon begins with a series of gradually narrowing cow pastures covered with volcanic rock and tall, stately Mexican Fence Post cactus. The small fields are criss-crossed by crumbling old stone walls, with a faint trail wandering through them.

The almost cloudless sky in early May promised a very hot day with a forecast of 96F. We were thankful that much of the canyon floor appeared to be heavily wooded. Surprisingly for this time of year, there was a full stream of water pouring through the base of the canyon. Both of these facts seemed to promise some moderation of the heat that was beginning to build even then. Little did we know this would be one of the hottest days of the season.

Mexican Fence Post cactus is not only attractive, but produces a tasty fruit. A few minutes into our hike we encountered a young Mexican man toting a wicker basket on his back and carrying a long pole used to extract these fruit from the cactus' prickly stems. He readily showed us the products of his efforts which we duly admired. Lacking specific information--our only guide was a Google satellite map of the area--we questioned him as well as we could about conditions ahead. He told us of some large waterfalls far up the canyon, but much of his directions were pretty vague, and his distances and times proved to be way off the mark. Still, we were encouraged by his helpful attitude.

They call it the "Gringo Tree" for a reason. These large trees, also called Gumbo-Limbo and more formally Bursera Simaruba, can be found in canyons throughout this part of Mexico. Why the name? Because the bark of the tree turns pink and peels, just like the Gringos.

A small crude stone dam crossed the stream early in our hike. The top of this dam provided the only easy crossing of many we made during the day. The trail meandered, disappeared, reappeared and grew faint again many times as we moved up the canyon. Although the canyon bottom was relatively level with little gain in altitude, the ground was rough and full of boulders and loose rocks called scree required constant attention to avoid a twisted ankle or a fall. In addition, the vegetation was thick and brambly in many places, causing us to lose the trail quite often at the start.

A quiet shady stream gave some relief from the growing heat. At this point the stream often broadened out with a slow moving current.

A water pipe points the way. Above, Tom (L.) and Chris (R.) boulder-hop across the stream under a metal water pipe. The pipe, we later found, extended most of the way up the canyon. Gradually we found that the trail, such as it might be, could be found within 50 feet of either side of the pipe. This began to make sense as we realized that the pipe required frequent repairs due to rock slides.

A Mexican repair in the back country is a rough and ready affair. Here the pipe has been supported by two forked tree branches. Liberal use of duct tape seals the cracks and holds things together. This was typical of what we found throughout this primitive, but apparently effective water system. Where the pipe might lead was still a mystery.

Another tree often found in these canyons. These trees are typically found clinging to the sheer sides of rocky canyon walls. What makes them so remarkable are the roots. The tree trunk may be found anywhere on the side of sheer rock cliff, with the roots extending down the rock face, moulding themselves to the contours of the rock as they go, until they reach a place where they can sink into some earth. Above, Tom examines the root system of one we found near some caves.

Anyone who knows the name of this tree is welcome to leave a comment at the end of this post or to email me directly.

Caves provide shelter to modern Mexican travelers as well as the ancients. This kind of cave typically can be found at the base of a rock cliff where it meets a softer surface. The area can be hollowed out into a shallow shelter. This was one of several caves under the face of this cliff. They were big enough for 2-4 people to huddle together for protection against the elements. The ubiquitous plastic soft drink bottles provided evidence of recent occupation. I have no doubt that Indians used this and similar shelters for countless generations before the Spanish arrived.

Cafe Con Leche river. We debated over the proper name to give this small muddy river and finally settled on the name of a popular Mexican drink made up of milk mixed with coffee. We felt entitled to name it since local Mexicans in Citala insisted it had no name. Later we found that someone had given the canyon the name of Barranca Yerba Buena, but there is still no indication whether that is also the name of the river. Until we hear differently, it shall be the Rio Cafe Con Leche.

Home for sale, needing only a little tender loving care. While we were stopped for lunch, I decided to explore a little way up the trail and discovered this small crumbling cabin next to the river. The structure was made from tree branches and a piece of corrugated iron or chicken wire here and there. Inside we found the remains of previous habitation, including an empty picture frame, a rusted-through milk bucket, and a wire animal trap. An old set of bed springs was suspended from the ceiling. A local Mexican had lived here while he tended his animals and perhaps a small milpa (field) or two.

A small banana grove near the cabin. The whole field measured perhaps 30 feet by 30 feet. Since bananas are usually a crop found in the tropics, it seemed odd to find them growing in an arid semi-desert area. However, the whole area is a transition zone and I have sometimes found moisture-loving ferns growing in the shade of a large cactus. Were these bananas still tended by the former cabin owner? Another mystery of the Barranca. Bananas were introduced to Mexico by Bishop Vasco de Quiroga, a rather saintly figure from the 1530s, shortly after the Conquest. He brought over many crops and taught skilled trades to the indians in order to help them better their miserable lot under the cruel Spanish system.

Picking his way carefully. As we moved up the canyon, the walls closed in and required some careful moves around tricky spots. Here, Tom squeezes around a narrow ledge. We took it slowly, one at a time. This far back in the canyon, no one wanted to get hurt because the way out would be rugged even without injury and rescue from the outside was probably out of the question.

Bugs in a huddle, yet another mystery. Just what kind of insects these were, and what they were doing puzzled us. My best guess is some sort of mating behavior. These bugs ignored us even when we intruded in their world with our camera lenses for close-up pictures. Anyone with a knowledge of insects is welcome to identify these critters and tell us what in the world they are up to.

Discretion is the better part of valor. This bridge crossed just above a waterfall. Other than the narrowness of the log, what made it interesting was the tendency of the log to roll as you walked over it. I wasn't so much worried about getting wet on that hot day as I was about falling on one of those rocks below. I suspected that my fellow hiker, to whom I had lent my camera, was hoping for a dramatic, mid-air shot. I was happy to disappoint him

A powerfully rushing waterfall, as we enter the inner canyon. Larry (above) was with me when we discovered the Barranca from Windy Point, and when we explored the trailheads at both ends of the canyon several weeks previous to this hike. The speed and force of the water was definitely picking up. This was also the terminal point of the metal pipe, which ended in a small concrete cistern. The cistern was fed by numerous plastic pipes that extended out to various springs in the area. The canyon was getting more scenic by the minute, but time was running out since we had pledged to each other to turn around at 2:15 in order to get back to Ajijic at a decent hour.

Wayne in careful mode. The rough bouldery terrain showed few traces of a trail at this point. We all made good use of our walking sticks for support and for testing the steadiness of rocks we were hoping to use as stepping stones. Not far from here, I unwisely attempted to use a tree root extending out over the canyon as a support for my foot. Down I went, and hard. I drove a large wooden splinter into my elbow which resisted normal tweezers after my fellow hikers pulled me back up. Tom, a retired doctor, watched this for a while, then whipped out a pair of Leatherman pliers and after a bit of probing yanked out most of the splinter. I kidded him about his choice of surgical tools. "It worked, didn't it?" he said with his impish smile.

Lovely yellow flower graces a stream-side tree. I am told by my botanist friend Ron Parsons that this is an Allamanda in the Apocynaceae family, but he doesn't know the species. Based on his information, a Google search shows that it looks a lot like an Allamanda cathartica, a species which oddly enough also grows in Surinam, where it was discovered by a Swiss botanist named Fredrick Allanand in 1770. The leaves can be used as a powerful laxative and purgative. How it ended up in a remote Mexican canyon is another mystery of the Barranca.

End of the line for this hike. When we reached this suspiciously rickety footbridge, we decided it was time to head back. The bridge is held together with barbed wire. With all the gaps between slats, a missed step promised a rather uncomfortable straddle of that wire. We probably could have crossed at another point, and we were tempted to keep going. However, we had become separated from Chris and needed to find him and head back. We hoped to reach the north shore of Lake Chapala with plenty of daylight left. Only those with exceedingly tight sphincter muscles willingly choose to drive Mexican back roads at night.

Citala welcoming committee. After a long and very hot hike back down the Barranca, I was famished for a cold drink. I was so thirsty, having neglected to bring sufficient water, that I downed an entire bottle of water heated to a sharp temperature while it sat in Wayne's car all day. I just craved something wet.

On our initial exploratory trip, Larry and I had noticed a small tienda in Citala with a sign outside that said "cerveza" (beer). After reaching the car, the our group made a beeline to the tienda and ran into fellows above. After eyeing our scruffy, sweaty appearance for a while, they politely inquired about our day. They seemed a bit puzzled that anyone with more sense than a burro would willingly hike all the way up the canyon on a hot day like this, but they were interested in our experience.

On the left end with the crossed arms was a friendly guy named Jose, who also happened to speak very good English. It turned out he had lived in Los Angeles, California, not too far from the house where Carole and I had lived. Small world! When we asked about the rules for camping in the area, Jose looked at us with astonishment and laughed. "Rules? Do what you want, no one cares." I was starting to like this place.

A two beer hike. It has become a tradition among this group of hikers to seek out a beer or other cold drink of choice immediately after a long hike. In fact, hikes are rated as one-beer, two-beer, and so on for their difficulty. This had been a two-beer hike, at the very least. From left to right: Tom, Jim, Larry, Wayne, Chris. The picture was taken by our new friend Jose.

In Part 2 of the Barranca hiking series, we approach the inner canyon from another direction and reach the lower of two very tall and scenic waterfalls. I hope you have enjoyed this hiking adventure and will check in for the next installment in about a week.

Hasta luego! Jim