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NOGALITO - WHERE RIVER AND MOUNTAIN MEET THE OCEAN

By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide

 

Nestled in a valley of the Sierra Madre mountain range, this natural Eden offers thick lush sub-tropical vegetation, a river of crystalline quality and the peacefulness of a quiet Mexican village. El Nogalito actually means little oak and the town got its name from the small oaks found in the higher regions up the river also called by the same name. This area is definitely worth visiting.

 

A perfect way to discover this truly unique paradise is to do so by foot so you don’t miss anything. Starting from the furthermost end of the town, a hike up this river will take you to places seldom visited by humans. Its pristine quality, the soothing sounds of the river and the enchanting bird songs will transport you back in time; back to an era before mankind took over.

 

As you hike, crisscrossing the river, a colorful dragon fly may perch on a nearby leaf; a lizard may scuttle rapidly along a rock or remain motionless in an attempt at camouflage; a wide variety of butterflies may flutter along your path and beautiful birds may pick at small fruit from an overhead tree.

 

A canopy consisting of trumpet trees, red paper trees, palms and strangler figs, amongst many, create a shade under which you will be quite comfortable at any time of the day. Ferns and orchids of many different species, growing in small crevices on the side of rocky cliffs, become more plentiful as you go up in altitude. Even more interesting is the incredible way in which certain trees, located many feet above the river, extend their roots in and out of rocky crevices to finally reach the river in the form of a sponge like system of filaments.

 

After about an hour of hiking through this magnificent vegetation, you come across a small water cascade flowing into a pool of crystal clear water where you may enjoy a refreshing swim. This location is the ideal place for a small rest and light lunch. The more adventurous may climb up to the second level of the falls where the water is deeper and the work of Mother Nature carved in granite by eons of erosion is even more obvious.

 

The way back is more or less the same and for most, seems a little easier. The hike is relatively easy but does require a little climbing and most can safely do it. It is recommended that you wear good soled sandals (Teva style) you don’t mind getting wet as a fair part of the hike is carried out in the river while stepping between the smooth rocks.

 

A good time to begin the hike is early in the morning. By the time you get back, the charming outdoor river-side restaurant El Nogalito will be open to offer you refreshments while you enjoy watching birds such as the vibrant Yellow-winged Cacique and black and blue San Blas Jay pick at nachos left on the small wall for them. And if luck has its way, you’ll even see the shier but most beautiful Green Jay, one of my favorite birds. There, you will also meet Tequila, the English speaking resident Military Macaw who ironically, is scared of heights. I say ironically because Macaws fly high in the sky and are usually found in the much higher ranges of the mountains. Occasionally, I find him perched high up in a distant tree calling down to me as he recognizes a friendly voice and someone has to climb up to get him as he refuses to come down.

 

This hike can only described as an exploration into unconquered virgin territory and will be, I am convinced, an experience you will cherish. Let’s not forget, when visiting nature, always leave the area better then how you found it.

 



HIKING THE SIERRA
MADRE TRAIL

 

By Griffin Page
Naturalist ~ Eco-guide

 

The impressive Sierra Madres. Many mountain ranges in the world can be considered as impressive. Aren’t we lucky? We have the Sierra Madre Occidental right here in our own backyard! So let me take you through this spectacular trail and perhaps, you’ll want to experience it for yourself.

 

This walk through virgin nature begins at a certain altitude above sea level. This allows us to reach heights that allow for a bird’s eye view of part of the Bay. The beginning is like a walk in the park. Really easy walking. We encounter vegetation of a variety so wide that I would find myself between a rock and a hard place if I had to name them all. We can see trumpet trees, palms, jarretaderas, red paper trees in plenty, bamboo and shrubs of all kinds.

 

Along the way, we pass a typical Mexican ranch like house in the middle of nowhere. Extraordinary that some people can live so far in the middle of nature. A few dogs will happily greet us as we pass in front, excited to have company.

 

The area is filled with birds of all kinds as well. You can hear doves, chachalacas (wild pheasant like birds) in great numbers, yellow-winged Caciques, San Blas jays and many more.

 

Then, it goes up and up and up…..not too bad, but a few may want to take a break here and there, just to catch their breath. The climb doesn’t last long and is well worth it. The view it affords is quite breath taking.

From there, it’s all downhill and extremely pleasant. We encounter many little creeks, flowing in therainy season, creating an enchanting lullaby, and dry otherwise, allowing passage for wildlife. There is a nice canopy for shade and the air is cooler around these parts; just what we need after the short climb. The peacefulness of this semi-deciduous sub tropical jungle is heaven on earth.

 

There are many places where we can stop to have a sip of water of even a snack while listening to the chanting birds and watching life go on all around us. Butterflies go by, birds fly overhead or are in the process of making their nests, and lizards lazily sit there in the underbrush keeping cool. Ants are hard at work creating moving highways of natural detritus and us, well, we just sit there and enjoy the opportunity of being blessed enough to just be there.

 

The great part of this trail is that in about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs, we reach a little town where we can have refreshments in a beautifully landscaped restaurant. We start at one point and end in another, no need to turn back and go through the same trail again.

 

In all honesty, this is my favorite trail so far, but don’t just take my word for it, come see for yourself. So take a hike, not figuratively speaking of course, but rather literally. A hike within the impressive Sierra Madre Occidental…..you’ll be happy you did.

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