Riding Between the Volcanoes

Nancy riding down from Popo
Originally uploaded by refay.
Knowing that bicycle touring as a couple is full of compromises, I finally decided to compromise and do the big climb that Randy wanted to do.

Popo (actually Popocatepetl) and Ixta (Iztaccíhuatl) are two of the three highest mountains in Mexico, at over 17,800 feet (5,400) meters, and the saddle between them is called the Paso de Cortes, and it's at 12,000 feet (3650 meters). Cortes came over this pass from Cholula (where we are tonight) to attack the Aztecs at Tenochtitlan (today's Mexico City). It's a direct route over the rim of the Valley of Mexico, but the 4,000 foot climb around a smoking volcano was a little threatening to us!

Nancy climbing to Paso de Cortes
Nancy climbing to the Paso de Cortes
Well, we climbed it, and we're proud. And it was some of the best air we'd breathed in a week and a half, cool, clear. Lots of beautiful forests, amazing volcano views. This forested region is key to the air and water supplies of the whole central Mexico area, so its preservation is a primary goal of the Mexican government. Unfortunately, as in other parts of the world, deforestation continues at an alarming rate. However, this was one of the cleanest and freshest areas we have visited in Mexico, showing a level of care that hopefully will succeed in preserving it. We didn't see the trash we often see on the side of the road until we got near civilization on the other side of the pass.