Looking at Álamos From Mountain Tops

28 … Late spring as seen by high up both sides of the Álamos Valley…

Looking at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico from the north.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

It was an effort to get this shot. But it was the right season to do it.

I always looked north from Plaza de las Armas at two peaks that reminded me of
camel humps. I knew they would provide a wonderful vantage point of Álamos and
surroundings. Chon, my guide, and I started up a trail early on an overcast
morning. Two others, possibly miners, with a supplies burdened burro, were
ahead of us. High up, they took a fork in the trail to the east and we
continued climbing to the west.

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from the north, mirador and plaza de las armas are clearly seen, photo by anders tomlinson . 1995.

In late spring, the summer jungle is bendable bare branches.

I was hoping the sun would break through. It didn’t. We reached the top
under cool cloud cover. I would later learn this was a blessing. I began
to film. We now go back in time to this moment contemplating the big picture.

sierra de alamos, towering above alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995

Sierra de Álamos towers over the village wiping sleep from its eyes.

To the immediate south of Álamos is the Sierra de Álamos mountain island.
It runs east-west, perpendicular to the coast and the Sierra Madres.
It has always taken me and my guides several hours to reach the top from
the Plaza de las Armas. The most comfortable time to start is the cool
pre-dawn hours.

View from Gringo Point, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Good morning Alamos from Gringo Point in the Sierra de Alamos.

A week later, Chon and I spent two days and a night atop Sierra Álamos.
Gringo Point is a rock outcropping that looks down directly on Álamos.
Truly a bird’s eye view. Again, overcast persisted. But what can one do
but do what one does?

alamos, sonora, mexico seen fro sierra de alamos in the spring of 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson.

One can almost hear a 1,000 silver mule train leaving Álamos south.

Chon created a fire in the high altitude morning chill, a bed of embers
no wider than his palm with a flame no longer than his thumb, and brewed
me a cup of tea. I unpacked three bags of camera equipment and began
to film. We did not talk. Below, a church bell persistently called
for morning mass. And we could hear the past that becomes today and will
be tomorrow. I have never forgotten that civilized cup of tea.

Anders Tomlinson camera gear atop Sierra de Álamos' Gringo Point looking down at Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.  Spring 1995.

What a wonderful place to spend a night.

From up here at night Álamos sounds came and went with the winds. One could watch cars traveling on the Álamos to San Bernardo Road, infrequent lonely headlights coming and going. A police road block, beyond the airport and where the road makes a turn to the northeast, blinked red throughout the night. This is the El Camino Real making it’s way north to Los Angeles, San Francisco and ultimately Petaluma. This road has been traveled for centuries.

pines forest at the top of sierra de alamos overlookiung alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995.

Pine trees rustle in the wind and parrot calls echo off stone canyon walls.

Pine aromas in a dry tropical rain forest, with tea in hand, is truly
a top-of-the-world experience. I felt safe with Chon guiding the way. It
is always best to travel with a guide so you don’t go where someone
doesn’t want you to go. Recently, life had been hard on Chon and these moments
above and beyond the village were good for his spirit. And I was thankful
for the opportunity to capture scenes from the highest vantage point.

Álamos, Sonora, mexico seen from the north with Mt. Álamos in the background.  Summer, 1995.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Here is where the photos from Sierra de Álamos were taken.

This photo was taken during the summer rainy season of 1995. The land
changes dramatically from late Spring to Summer. Álamos changes from
being surrounded by a dry desert landscape to sitting in the middle
of a wet tropical explosion of growth and color.

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum

Chon was Kit’s right-hand man during much of Pedregral’s early construction
in the shade of the giant fig tree. Chon took pride in doing a job well
and enjoyed a good joke and a cold beer.

Sharing A Moment With Chon

We come and go, in the short term, like the birds and in the long
term as do mountains. This video scene celebrates Chon who worked on many
projects for the Nuzums including the strawbale casa on El Pedregal
in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Chon   portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.

Chon portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.

Another day, another smile amongst old friends in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.
Time passes, every moment history, every scene a moment. We are all part
of the river of life.

Antonio Figueroa and Mountain , Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A summer return to the northern rock outcroppings.

One of 1996’s summer-photo-expedition goals was to return to the camel humped
rocks. Local photographer Antonio Figueroa joined me on an effort to repeat
the spring shoot. We knew summer heat and humidity would challenge us.
We set off early in the morning. When we left the trail at the base of
twin peaks we ran into a dense jungle of tangled vines, limbs, overgrown
brush, stickers… We couldn’t get to the top. The air became hotter,
oppressive, as the sun climbed into a watery sky. We had to return
without our photos. Talk about disappointment, but it was what it was. And
it would become worse. On the way down, Antonio ran head first into a
hornet hive. If you could see Antonio’s swollen face in the photo on the
trail you would realized his pain. As soon as we reached Alamos he went
to the hospital for treatment. A tough day was had by all, but none tougher
than Antonio’s attempt to capture the big picture. Jungle one – photographers zip.

View from Above

Mt. Alamos is some 6,500 feet above sea level. It towers 5,000 feet above
the town of Álamos. It is another world, wild parrots, dry tropical
forest, granite and… Up and down is a day’s effort, it is well worth it.
To reach the top it is recommended to start hiking early while it is still
dark and cool.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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