Hotel el Pabellon
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Courtyard of the Hotel el Pabellon, San Sebastian del Oeste, where the trek officially started. La Bufa is to the left of the hills seen in the background.

trek up La Bufa
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The trek up La Bufa began on a cobbled road leading out from the main village square, past agave farms (the source of the local raicilla, a type of mezcal) and residences with mules grazing and chickens pecking and dogs sleeping and freshly-cleaned laundry flapping in the cool mountain air.

hot pink salvia
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This gorgeous, hot pink salvia was one of the first I set eyes upon. I saw many other salvias, with flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue, red and reddish-orange. Now I get why hummingbirds head to Mexico in the winter – for all those nectar-rich, winter-flowering herbs!

cobbled road
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Much of this remote mountain road was intricately cobbled. It only makes sense when you learn that the area was growing into a prosperous mining town during the 18th century, with dozens of gold, silver and lead mines and foundries. The population peaked at the turn of the 20th century, with some 20,000 residents but the population declined after the revolution of 1910. Currently, there are fewer than 600 residents in this sleepy village.

gorgeous orange vine
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This is clearly a member of the family Convolvulaceae (morning glory family) – possibly an Ipomea.

clear view from mt
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A gorgeous view towards San Sebastian del Oeste, towards the top

light streaming through pines
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Ecstasy: sun streaming through pines and oaks on a desolate Mexican hillside, silent except for the wind racing up the valley and through the trees.

delicious agave in pine duff
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This is my new screen-saver. I’m infatuated with this plant and with the place where I photographed it. To get this photo, I scrambled up steep, slippery, pine needled slopes to reach the top of a cliff, where I stood teetering with my back about a foot from the edge yelling down to my panicked traveling companion that I was perfectly safe and knew exactly what I was doing… but was it worth it or what?

solanum
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Remind you of anything? That’s because it’s a close relative of the eggplant (and tomato). It’s a Solanum. But which one? That’s where I call upon plant nerd friends who know the Mexican flora better than I.

agave!!!
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I could keep you here all day looking at my photos of plants I found on that hike. There were lots of pink, purple, orange and red tubular flowers but after a while, they all start to look the same, unless you are a some kind of plant freak. So take it from me – this was just a tiny sampling of what I saw. And it took no special skills to see all this – just a little daring, to walk up into the woods without having any clue how long it would take or where the road would lead. Thank goodness for the kindly local family who hauled our sorry butts partway up the hill in the back of their pick-up. We would have been home well after dark without ’em.

blue salvia
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This gorgeous blue salvia may be Salvia mexicana, a widespread species, according to Burl Mostul of Rare Plant Research

Hotel el Pabellon
trek up La Bufa
hot pink salvia
cobbled road
gorgeous orange vine
clear view from mt
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light streaming through pines
delicious agave in pine duff
solanum
agave!!!
blue salvia
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