Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gila National Forest

Thursday March 14

A refreshing and almost drastic change from the desert...

Windy roads, snow patches on the shady mountain sides, quite a few bicyclists, names like Little Cherry Creek, small waterfalls trickling in bubbling brooks, towering Ponderosa pines, a large flock of wild turkeys, steep rock faces, dilapidated shacks, 4 wheeler trails, filtered sunlight... all this and more at Gila Wilderness, New Mexico! 
Robert's Lake
We left City of Rocks at 9:15 am and drove up 61 along the Mimbres River. We passed 2 elk road signs and 1 deer sign. Annie spotted a small herd of mule deer does on the hillside. Shannon spied 7 or 8 javelinas grazing in the lower pasture side of the road. A little over 2 hours later we arrived at destination Gila Cliff Dwellings. We ate a quick lunch at the trail head picnic tables, where an Apache outfitter casually gave us some oral history while he was waiting on his group to come back. Then we walked up the steep trail to catch the 1 o'clock guided tour. 

We made it up the trail in 15 minutes, rather than 30, so waited in the shade.

Park ranger George explained how the Indians carried
a million gallons of water up the gorge to build their pueblos

sooty, black ceilings from campfires in this large cave

a neat bridge over Gila River at the beginning/end of the cliff trail

Then to the Trail of the Past to view several petroglyphs & a single Mogollon family dwelling.  

pointing out the petroglyphs...a man, bird's claw, and x

Cora wanted to take a picture...
the red on the rock are various Indian picture stories

Annie & Caroline completed the junior ranger program here, so back to the visitor's center to receive their badges

Up and down and around curving through Gila National Forest south on I5, this time to Silver City. 

Shannon side tripped us through town to inquire about & get a closer look at the 5 mile pipeline that ran from the copper mine at the top of the mountain to Chino operations in Hurley. 16" pipe on one side, train tracks on the other...

The sun was setting as we arrived back at the RV parked at City of Rocks.

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