Monday, November 24 – Sonora, Republic of Mexico

This morning started early as we moved the vehicles to Douglas Arizona. We are “officially” through New Mexico, but will return for one more day of hiking in that state. It’s been a wonderful two months of great people, tremendous experiences, interesting history and opportunity to help clarify the Battalion’s movements.

My original plan for this week was to hike the section of Sonora between the Guadalupe Canyon exit and Agua Prieta Spring. Recently, there has been increased violence in this area and upon advice of the US Consulate and local persons with cross-border experience, we decide to not hike Sonora. Dang!

Instead, I’ve hired a local guide with thirty years experience taking tours to the LDS colonies. We discuss our Trek goals and decide that it should be safe to drive the MX-2 highway corridor today. This will allow me to photograph some key locations, to get the “feel” of the locale and see if the previously proposed routes jibe with the journals.

First, we drive out to Guadalupe Pass. Now, here’s an IMPORTANT item for those of you interested in the route: Guadalupe Canyon is different from Guadalupe Pass. The pass is NOT in the canyon of the same name. Go figure. It has taken me three years to finally come to that realization.

Guadalupe Canyon is a north-south canyon which they joined after coming down the cliffs off the Animas valley. The canyon the Battalion wanted to go down was further south from where they actually went down. Mexico Highway 2 probably follows closely to their intended route. But, as is well known, the guides didn’t find it and Colonel Cooke took the command through a horrifically difficult canyon. More about that later in the week.

The San Bernardino valley is wide and deeper than I imagined it would be. We can’t get to the ruins of the rancho, but get some distant photos. Across in the US is the John Slaughter Ranch which is accessible and has sections that still resemble the valley in 1846.

The guide takes me back along MX-2 towards Agua Prieta. We pass one of the campsites and their description accurately portrays the actual geography. It fits well and makes sense that they should have passed this way.

A mild surprise for me is that there is water flowing at Agua Prieta. The town has built up around the spring. There are a few non-east, west, north, south streets that take into account the old stream bed but for the most part it’s urbanized. As we approach the stream, there’s actually a small amount of water in the bed. Sadly, there’s lots of garbage and refuse too, but still, it’s kind of neat to see water here. So many places have gone dry due to well pumping.

That was a quick drive through, and I appreciated the help and the opportunity to get into Mexico and document some of the sites that do match their descriptions. I didn’t get onto the “Capital Gem” mountain, but with luck, I’ll get back here someday to find it.

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