Real de Catorce


Morning lights in Real

After a few days in pretty Zacatecas and before going South, I went to the desert in the state of San Luis Potosi. For the first time since entering Mexico, I jumped into a bus or three, and after six or seven hours sitting in buses, ended up in Real de Catorce.

Real de Catorce is famous for being a sacred place in both Huichol and Christian cultures. It's also very high, with mountains around Real reaching 3000m. So I took a few warm clothes, unfold my backpack out of my panniers, and took a bus for San Luis de Potosi.

Just a few hundred meters down this mountain is a flat desert at 200m, home of a well known cactus, which has been used forever as a medecine by the Huichol people. I went down hiking by foot, met with Monica and Felipe who own two dozens of goats there, and got lost in the desert for a couple of days before returning to Zacatecas.



Xavier waiting in the subway

A few hundred kilometres more across the remote countryside of Utah and we were back into National Park Land. Zion is a large canyon with some unique flora and fauna. We got ourselves a permit to go hiking in the Subway. This canyon, famous amongst canyoneering people, has a strange feel of abandoned ruins of futuristic architecture. No wonder why it's called the Subway, it really looks as if it was taken for model to design the stations of the London Tube.

The next morning, we went up Angel's Landing, a beautiful and popular trail that climbs above the Virgin River. Xavier loves running in the mountains as much as I do, and by noon we were already back to the car, driving to the state of Nevada, to a city named Las Vegas.



Sandstone canyon

We woke up Friday morning to drive to the Sandthrax campground, where the Canyoneering and Beer Tasting week-end was taking place. On the road we passed by Capitol Reef where we stopped to observe some quite surprising petroglyphs. We went for a swim in the Lake Powell that afternoon and came back as people were arriving at the campground.

We were 25 people, and it was quite a change for us to teleport into such a large group! From backpack camping to car camping, from my little fuel stove to the huge propane barbecue, from our little car to the dozen of huge trucks and jeeps, I was, again, supersized. We had a great time this week end, and a lot of canyoneering and beer tasting.

We splitted in three groups to go down different canyons, and our group went down 2 beautiful dry groves, carved by the water that runs down in mighty torrents whenever it rains. We learned about bridging, side stepping and other funny movements to progress into the sometimes very narrow canyons. Of course, we did think a couple of times about a famous film that came out earlier this year. ... more



Fairy tale landscape

We slept nearby the Horseshoe Bend and watched the sun rising above it before I went to buy a new camera in Page. We spent the morning along the lake Powell and driving, pass some beautfiful giant steps in Johnson Canyon, then up the red and wiggly Skutumpah Road, towards the village of Canonnville, near the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park. In a nearby field, we found a nice spot to spend the night. There was frost on my tent in the morning, but the temperature raised up quickly with the sun.

Driving accross Bryce Canyon gives somewhat of a good overview over these beautiful hoodoos. But hiking amongst them is really like entering a fairy tail, the lush green of the pine trees standing out of the camaïeu of reds with which they are painted. No wonder why, in french, hoodoos are called 'cheminée de fée'.

That evening we had a house. And what a wonderful house. After more than a week full with hiking and driving, it was the first time we had a solid roof since Salt Lake City. Half a kilometres off the road, near Bicknell, Lyman was waiting for us in his beautiful house. Lyman is a wonderful host. He made us feel like home and gave us some simple instructions for shower, laundry, and cooking. He even gave us food to cook!

Grand Canyon


Goodbye camera, hello Grand Canyon

We arrived at the North Rim of Grand Canyon early in the afternoon, after a beautiful drive across the border of Utah and Arizona. Just as we reached Bright Angel Point from which the giant hole can be observed, the sensor of my camera decided to give up and finally died. It had been pretty beaten up already, after only 6 months of heavy use, but it was a little bit frustrating to be in such a magnificent and famous place without something to take a picture.

We started going down the 1800 meters drop along the North Kaibab Trail, passing by Conttonwood Creek, and arriving in the dark at Phantom Ranch. We finished the 22 kilometres at night, crossing the already quiet Bright Angel Creek Campground, and finding a nice spot to spend the night under the stars, overlooking the Colorado river.

The night was surprisingly warm, compared to what we were used to in Utah in the past few days. Agitated too. First a fox, then an intrepid raccoon all wanted to steal some food from my backpack. Both seemed to really like my loaf of bread, and in the morning light, we could watch mother and baby raccoons starring at us with hungry eyes, just a few meters away. ... more