True's travels and the
by Tricia Brick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next month, Micah True will cast a vote for Ralph Nader and then catch a bus to Mexico. Since the early '80s, autumn has sent True on a southward migration, first to Chiapas and Guatemala, more recently to northern Mexico's magnificent Copper Canyon.
"I was always in search of the perfect place to run," True says. "In my early years, I was like a surfing bum or a climbing bum, but I was a trailrunning bum."
For nearly two decades, True passed his winters running 170 mile weeks through the mountains and beaches of central America and Mexico. He found joy in coming to know the local people, running into villages, sharing a meal and some conversation, and running on. Amid the volcanic crater lakes of Guatemala, he was given the name Caballo Blanco, "White Horse."
Copper Canyon became True's winter home after he befriended Martiamo Cervantes, a Tarahumara runner from the Sierra Madre, during the 1994 Leadville 100. A Leadville veteran, True volunteered to pace a runner for the last 50 miles of the race.
"Instantly upon meeting the Indians, this fellow Martiamo and I looked at each other and made eye contact, and both broke out with big old peyote-eating grins on our faces, we picked each other to run with," he recalls.
Over the course of a 50-mile, 11 hour run together, the two runners established a solid friendship, inspiring True to head to the Sierra Madre for his yearly winter migration. Over the next few years, he ran a coat drive for the Tarahumara after an early-'90s drought nearly destroyed their livelihood; sponsored a team of Tarahumara seeking to raise money for their struggling communities; and spent months exploring the northern Mexican canyon system, four huge canyons, each deeper than the American Grand Canyon.
"The first few times I wandered around the canyon, before I got to know my way around, I really wandered," True says with a laugh. "But it was fun, I always met wonderful people, and had some wonderful experiences, just wandering around."
This November, True will lead a small group of Coloradans to his adopted home for a two-week exploration of Copper Canyon. On Nov. 8, the day after Election Day, the group will leave Denver for the 12-hour ride to El Paso; from there, travelers will head to the Mexican town of Creel. They'll explore the immense and beautiful Copper Canyon systems by bus, train and foot, a voyage culminating in a three-day, 30-mile hike through the gorgeous, pine-lined Batopilas and Urique Canyons. Besides the dazzling scenery, True says, the trip's highlights are the visits with his adopted "Grammas", local families who've opened their homes to True and his fellow travelers.
The indefatigable True, charming, kindly and brimming with wonderful stories, delights in sharing his adopted homeland with visitors from up north. During his winter stays in the Sierra Madre, he leads groups of one to five on adventure-travel trips throughout the area. His laid-back approach to life ensures that every trip will unfold according to the travelers' desires: He's led groups on multiday sightseeing hikes and accompanied seasoned trail runners on 60-mile runs.
"I would encourage any adventure travelers to explore this unique and beautiful place on your own, you don't need me," True says. "However, if you'd like an experienced trail companion, someone who's rather connected, to show you around, then I'd be happy to do so."
Outtabounds is a weekly column about sports, Boulder style. Tricia Brick may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. © 2000 Boulder Weekly. All Rights Reserved. (Used with permission.)