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  • Mt. Bierstadt Group Summit - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest before the summit push on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Broken Ankle + 6 Miles = Tired
  • The classic San Juan approach - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Overlooking Noname Basin from Twin Thumbs Pass - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Upper Noname Basin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing Noname Cabin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Twin Thumbs Twins - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing the summit of Pt. 13,736 - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Blustery day on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Morning snow at 15k, Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada
  • Artesonraju from the summit of Nevado Pisco - Cordillera Blanca, Peru
  • February crowds on Gray's Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • Kicking steps on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Final traverse to the summit of Wheeler Mountain - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • The long walk to Pachanta - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Afternoon at 17k on Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    The final ridge on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Summer summit on Longs Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest day at the Pachanta Hot Springs - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Mind over matter on Mt. Parnassas - Front Range, Colorado
  • Rest stop on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Post nap surprise on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Summit on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Ridge walking on Grizzly Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Enroute the summit via the West Ridge on Pacific Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Mule train bound for Chilca - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Taking in the view from Fletcher Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Hiking on Silverheels - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Traversing! Gladstone Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
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    The best of times at Willow Lake - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    High Altitude Cerebral Edema? - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Bound for Chilca - Vilcanota Range, Peru
  • Going alpine light, Holy Cross Ridge - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Cumbre! Campa I - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Roadside lunch with the best of company - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Long ridge walk to the summit of California Peak - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    Crossing el Rio Colorado . . . in the afternoon - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Dealing with Fall snows high on Casco Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Moonrise over Mercedario - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Still climbing at 20,900 on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Talus on Halo Ridge, Mt. of the Holy Cross - Sawatch Range, Colorado
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    Deteriorating conditions on Mt. Arkansas - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
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    After the climb - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Taking in the view from the summit of Crystal Peak - Tenmile Range, Colorado
  • Topping out on Mt. Arkansas' North Couloir - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Glissade on Mt. Arkansas - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Hard snow morning on Teakettle Mountain - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Spring snow announces the start of the climb on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Crossing the Eolus Catwalk - San Juan Range, Colorado

Copper Canyon

Chihuahua City to Home - January 3, 1986

The run from Chihuahua to Ciudad Juarez left at about 6 in the morning, from the other station of course, and we were on board. We'd played the timing of the trip as close as we dared as we had a plane to catch out of El Paso that afternoon. The run up to Juarez took about 4 hours and again went through the gritty town of Cuahatemoc about halfway along its course. The smell of burning tires was back but even that quickly faded behind us as the train made a steady sixty miles per hour northbound. No vestibule today, we just sat in decent coach seats and took in the warmth of the car as compared to the January cold of the desert outside.

The train pulled into Juarez station and in a few minutes we had passed through the waiting room with its essence of locker room after the big game smell and out in the street making our way the ten blocks to the bridge back into the US. We knew the way this time and I'd say we were a bit salty after our adventure. No directions for these guys, we were experienced Mexico travelers and knew what we were doing for sure. We crossed the hump of the bridge and took our place in the end of the line, behind 75 shorter, darker folks, headed north as well. Each of them had their ID card out in their hand and passed it under the eyes of the Border patrolman sitting at the desk reading a western novel, never looking up to compare the face on the card to the person passing through the turnstile. With each entry his middle finger activated the lever on the counter looped over his ring finger, his mouth never saying a word. I got to him and did not have a card, so I reached out and simply passed my anglo hand where the others had passed their card and at the same time said "US, Nothing to Declare." His finger activated the counter with nary a head movement. Dan followed with another anglo hand but this time simply stated "me too" The snap of the counter and not of the head announced our arrival back in the USA.

We caught a cab to the airport, claimed our army duffle bags and slipped our now much lighter packs into the canvas sacks and proceeded to the check in counter. Remember, this trip was back in the day, so we asked if we could get a stand-by slot on an earlier plane and within an hour we were in our seats and headed to Dallas. Another stand by and we were in Baltimore

In hindsight, the Copper Canyon trip was the opening of a door to a world of adventure. I began with little more than a bit of halting Spanish and finished the trip with enough confidence to get a cab, get a room, and walk into a restaurant and order from the menu. it sounds like very little but in hind sight, what an experience. The author of the article in Backpacker was correct, we were going to the wild side, not simply because Copper Canyon was remote and undeveloped but because we were stepping out of the comfort zone and into a form of travel neither of us had done before.

Three years after going to Copper Canyon, I had a community college course in Spanish under my belt and my girlfriend and I bought one way tickets for me and the girlfriend to Mexico City and returns out of El Paso, with a two week gap between the two flights. Flying into Mexico City was scary but we did it and after three days there, we'd started settling down. Over the next two weeks we saw the volcano at Paricutin, the sights of Acapulco, a few remarkable days in colonial Taxco and taken the train from Mexico City all the way north to Juarez and El Paso. Two years later Dan and I found cheap tickets to Guatemala (a civil war makes for cheap seats) and had spend a week making our way from Guatemala City to Copan in Honduras and then onto Tikal, only being held a gunpoint a half dozen times by machine gun toting sixteen years old draftees. A year later I repeated the trip with my girlfriend with the highpoint of the trip being a boat ride up the Rio de la Pasion outside of Sayaxche to what was then a remote ruin next to a Guatemalan army jungle outpost. You want to impress a girl, take a tour of Mayan ruins conducted by an army soldier with a slung M-16, followed by lunch with the rest of his squad in a thatched hut surrounded by barbed wire.

As I write of the Copper Canyon trip, I reflect upon trips to Peru and Bolivia that now comprise months of travel south of the border and picking up enough Spanish to do it comfortably. And in two weeks, I will once again head south for a two week Spanish course in Guatemala . . . so allow me to say, if you have read this far and wonder if you can make a trip south with a minimum of language skills and a dearth of travel experience, I hope you will conclude that yes, you can and that by doing so, the world will open its doors to you. good luck and travel safe . . .