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Copper Canyon Treks, Winter 1998-99

Part 3 (of 4)
A dry season crossing of the Urique River is easy -- unless it suddenly rains! One of the greatest hazards in this country is the unexpected flashflood. Note the smooth, scoured rockfaces that rise a good thirty feet or more above these hikers. Should you find yourself on the wrong side of a river or side stream in flood, be prepared to wait several days for it to subside.
The ancient "camino real", built hundreds of years ago by colonial-era Spanish miners and Indian laborers. This trail has not been maintained since the last great mining boom -- close to a century ago. As part of these treks, we continue to map the camino real system.
A tauna, a classic water-powered mill used to pulverize gold ore. This handmade mill is identical to those used hundreds of years ago by the original Spanish miners.
Using techniques that have not changed for centuries, the gambusinos form their gold into these tiny balls. They normally trade gold for food and supplies, but if we should happen to meet one of these prospectors, we can usually buy or barter some of these unusual specimens.
This prospector struggles to support a large family by trading gold for tortilla flour and basic staples. He has hiked several hours just to sell us a few mineral specimens.
Why do we call it The Copper Canyon? The blue-green boulder above -- several hundred pounds of copper ore -- offers a good clue.

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