Friday, April 8, 2011

Sierra Norte

Oaxaca lies in a convergence of three valleys at about 1500 m (5000’). Mountain ranges of more than 3000 m (10,000’) block the weather from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. Mexicans refer to the people who live in these mountains as ‘the people of the clouds’. Some of these people live in a group of small pueblos known collectively as the Pueblos Mancomunados that are run as cooperatives and together they own about 70,000 acres of the Sierra Norte. The Pueblos Mancomunados provide services for eco tourism. You can stay in an adobe cabin at night, eat at a restaurant in town, then during the day hike or mountain bike on trails or on roads connecting the pueblos. Only 40 miles from Oaxaca, San Isidro Llano Grande is one of those pueblos surrounded by pine forest with a bit of fir and a lot of madroña and a bit of scrub oak. The woods contain many useful plants including pennyroyal, pericón, chepil, papal, rabbit grass, copal, chepiche, purslane, maguey, and epazote. In the rainy summer months they have mushrooms. Considering the elevation the terrain is fairly gentile.

Since for each 1000’ of elevation the temperature drops from 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit with 5 being the norm for clear skies it can be 25 degrees cooler than the valley floor. Even though it can get cold, it rarely snows in the Sierra Norte. When the clouds come usually it warming and it rains. Although every place on this earth is unique the upper elevations of the Sierra Norte feel a bit like coast range in southern Oregon near Ashland with a touch of California’s Northern Sierra thrown in, but then there are the tropical plants such as bromeliads. For another 20 pictures please go to my picasa web album.

Here are a few websites with a bit more information:árez

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