Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: a Guide to 50 Extra- ordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler edited by Don Mankin and Shannon Stowell is not a typical walk in the park, not by a long shot. Instead, the anthology, published by National Geographic, takes the reader from the frozen latitudes of polar ice caps to the desert sands of Tunisia and most everywhere in between to highlight adventures for the active traveler. Since no adventure compendium would be complete without featuring the remote Sierra Madre mountains, Joan Merrick, a contributor to Hulahula, reflects on her experience touring Mexico’s Copper Canyon with The California Native.
Merrick, a New Yorker now living in Alaska working as a nurse practitioner,
is no stranger to adventure. Her work serving patients of fly-in villages
along the Yukon River and Pribilof Islands is thrilling enough that vacations
to the bottom of Copper Canyon are the only way she and her husband keep
in step with this excitement. “I wanted a destination that offered
more than just sand and sun and sweet alcoholic drinks with funny umbrellas,” writes
Merrick in her essay. For Merrick, the escorted 11-day Ultimate Tour,
guided by Jessica Jerman, proved to be this and much more: “The
ride to the bottom of Copper Canyon was breathtaking.”
While safety is paramount on all California Native trips, the nature
of travel in this rugged area of Mexico is known to be effective at raising
the pulse. Descending approximately 5000 feet while traversing 40 miles
of gravel roads is indeed a test of fortitude. However, clients tend
to agree with Merrick, feeling vertigo is a small price to pay when they
arrive at the town of Batopilas: “The town has 1500 people, one
main street, a small sleepy town square, and a sprinkling of businesses,
including a sandal maker who uses old tires for soles. A small store
sells mango ices dusted with chili powder. The town was charming, a step
back into the past and well worth a little discomfort and anxiety to
get there.” It’s hard to tell these days, but the sleepy
town of Batopilas was once the site of one of the largest silver-mining
operation in the world, adding a rich history to this quaint village.
The flagstone of California Native Copper Canyon Adventures rests on
the capabilities of guides who accompany guests on deluxe escorted tours.
Guides enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area with clients. Many California
Native guides have spent time working with charitable organizations in
the area and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Tarahumara culture.
Such is the case with Jessica Jerman, the 27 year old from Wisconsin
who facilitated Merrick’s trip. Merrick remarks: “Through
Jessica’s efforts, we had the good fortune to visit the home of
a Tarahumara weaver. . . Jessica also arranged a dance and game demonstration
and took us to the home of a violin maker. These are just two examples
of the times during the trip that Jessica’s language skills and
the goodwill that she and the company have built up over the years led
to a unique experience.” These personal touches did not go unnoticed
by Merrick, who was at first hesitant to group-style travel, but warmed
to it when she realized she was in good hands: “These experiences
convinced me of the advantages of visiting this area with a guide who
has already established personal relationships with these very special
Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean offers similar accounts from
other traveler writers who, like Merrick, are more in their element when
hiking the backcountry or interacting with an exotic culture.
The California Native prides itself in developing tours for the active
traveler who enjoys creature comforts—even in the most remote locations.
Click Here for information on our Copper Canyon Tours.