Gila National Wilderness - July 6, 2008

Gila National Wilderness - July 6, 2008

HI EVERYONE,

 

ON OUR JOURNEY TO OUR NEXT CAMP, WE STOPPED IN THE SMALL TOWN OF RESERVE, NM, FOR GAS AND ANY PERSONAL ITEMS WE NEEDED. THERE ON MAIN STREET WAS JAKE’S GENERAL MERCHANDISE AND I MEAN GENERAL. THE STORE CARRIED GROCERIES, HARDWARE, FEED, AND THE LOTTERY! A SMALL TOWN OF 1200 PEOPLE HAD QUITE A BIT OF HISTORY FROM THE DAYS OF THE WILD WEST AND GUN FIGHTS.

OUR NEXT CAMP WAS IN THE GILA NATIONAL WILDERNESS. THE ROAD TOOK US TO SNOW LAKE WHERE THE PAVED ROAD ENDED. WE CONTINUED ON A DIRT ROAD MILES INTO THE MOUNTAINS AND ARRIVED AT A REMOTE PRIMITIVE CAMP. OUR WRANGLER HAD TO HAUL WATER IN FOR THE HORSES AND THE CAMP COOK. IN THIS DRY ARID COUNTRY, IT IS WISE TO BRING BOTTLED WATER WITH YOU.

WE PUT UP A HIGH LINE TO TIE OUR HORSES, AS THERE WERE NO CORRALS. NO SNOW THIS TIME, AND THE DAY TEMPERATURES WERE VERY PLEASANT WITH COLD NIGHTS IN THE THIRTIES.

AFTER DINNER AROUND THE CAMPFIRE, WE WALKED BACK TO OUR TRAILER. THE DARK NIGHT SKY WAS FILLED WITH THOUSANDS OF STARS MORE THAN WE HAD EVER SEEN BEFORE - PERHAPS BECAUSE WE WERE FAR FROM THE BRIGHT CITY LIGHTS TO DIM THEIR BRIGHTNESS. WE SETTLED IN EARLY TO GET PLENTY OF SLEEP FOR THE RIDE THE NEXT DAY. WE AWOKE THE NEXT MORNING TO A CLEAR SUNNY DAY WITH THE SMELL OF BREAKFAST IN THE AIR.

WE WERE EXCITED AS WE SADDLED OUR HORSES FOR OUR RIDE THROUGH THE GILA WILDERNESS, A LAND OF HIGH DESERTS, CANYONS, MOUNTAINS, MESAS, AND DENSE FOREST. WE WERE READY TO EXPLORE ALL OF THESE.

THE FIRST LEG OF OUR RIDE WAS ACROSS THIS LARGE ROCKY MESA ONCE AN AIRPLANE LANDING STRIP BRINGING HUNTERS TO THIS REMOTE AREA. THE TRAIL LED US PASSED THIS RUSTY OL' 1930’S MODEL TRUCK WITH ITS DOOR OPEN AND STILL SWINGING IN THE WIND. THE TERRAIN BECAME MORE RUGGED AND ROCKY AS WE REACHED THE SUMMIT OF A HIGH RIDGE OVERLOOKING THE CANYON BELOW.

LITTLE DID WE KNOW WE WOULD REACH THIS CANYON BY LUNCH TIME. WE MADE OUR WAY SINGLE FILE DOWN THIS RIDGE ON A STEEP NARROW TRAIL THAT SWITCHED BACK AND FORTH. SOMETIMES YOU COULD SEE DROP OFFS OF A HUNDRED FEET OR MORE. WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK, SO THERE WAS NO TURNING BACK. I JUST TOLD MY HORSE TO BE CAREFUL. SHE DID A GOOD JOB, AS I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT OR SHOULD I SAY WRITE ABOUT IT. WE ALL MADE IT TO THE CANYON FLOOR.

ALL ALONG THE TRAIL WILDFLOWERS WERE BLOOMING IN THIS DRY ROCKY SOIL ALONG WITH JUNIPER AND CACTUS.

 THE GILA RIVER FLOWS THROUGH THESE CANYONS GIVING LIFE TO THE GRASSY MEADOWS, WILDFLOWERS, COTTONWOOD TREES AND WILLOW BUSHES AS IT MAKES IT WAY TO ARIZONA.  WE ATE LUNCH IN ONE OF THESE LUSH OASIS ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER AND RESTED IN THE COOL SHADE.

ON THE TRAIL AGAIN AFTER OUR SIESTA, WE FOLLOWED THE SWIFT MOVING GILA RIVER AND CROSSED IT SEVERAL TIMES. THE HORSES ENJOYED THE WATER AS SEVERAL WANTED TO LAY DOWN IN THE WATER AFTER DRINKING. IT WAS TIME TO HEAD BACK TO CAMP AS WE STARTED OUT OF THE CANYON.

LATE THAT NIGHT WE AWOKE TO HEAR WOLVES HOWLING AND PLAYING CLOSE, REALLY CLOSE TO OUR CAMP. WE SAW THEM OUT OUR CAMPER WINDOW AND WATCHED FOR A WHILE. WOLVES, BEARS, COYOTE, AND MOUNTAIN LIONS ALL CALL THIS WILDERNESS HOME.

THE NEXT DAY WE RODE OUT AGAIN TO RIDE ALONG THE RIVER AND ITS GRASSY MEADOWS. SOMETIMES THE PASSAGEWAY WAS NARROW AS WE PASSED BY SHEER CLIFFS REACHING HIGH ABOVE US. OUR TRAIL OPENED INTO A MEADOW OF GREEN GRASSES AND COTTONWOODS AND ON THE EDGE WAS AN OLD ABANDONED HOMESTEAD, PROBABLY FROM THE LATE 1890’S.  AS WE PASSED BY,,YOU COULD ALMOST HEAR THE LAUGHTER OF CHILDREN FROM A DISTANT PAST. ON DOWN THE TRAIL, OUR GUIDE POINTED OUT REMNANTS OF SOME CLIFF DWELLINGS, HOMES TO AN ANCIENT INDIAN TRIBE. THE BEAUTY HERE CAN ONLY BE EXPERIENCED BY TAKING THE BACKROADS WITH YOUR HORSE THROUGH SOME OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR SCENERY IN AMERICA. SOON WE TURNED AWAY FROM THE RIVER AND HEADED BACK TO CAMP.

AFTER 3 DAYS AT THIS CAMP WE PACKED AND HEADED TO THE CANYON DE CHILLEY, ARIZONA.

 

WE AGAIN WISH YOU MANY HAPPY AND SAFE TRAILS.

SO LONG UNTIL WE MEET AT THE CANYON DE CHILLY.

BOBBIE AND LARRY

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