"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chiricahua National Monument

Interstate 10 seems to have a high wind warning in place every time we drive across southern Arizona and New Mexico. Fortunately, this time the wind was to our back. A huge dust storm from the south welcomed us as we arrived in Willcox and got settled before the highway was closed for a few hours due to the blowing dust. It seemed like the perfect day to stay inside and read.
The next day, we got up early for our hike. The temp was 46 degrees and windy. We had to adjust our layers of clothes a few times until it was just right. Good thing we keep plenty of clothes in the backseat of the truck for "just in case". We added gloves and headed down the trail. We were the only people on the trail for quite a while. I guess the other people waited until it warmed up before starting.

I am leery of trails that start with a steep downhill. You know when you are returning and tired that you must go up.

 The most noticeable natural features in the monument are the rock pinnacles that the monument was created to protect. Rising sometimes hundreds of feet into the air, many of these pinnacles are balancing on a small base, seemingly ready to topple over at any time. The Civilian Conservation Corps, during their occupation here in the 1930s, named many of the rock formations that can be seen today.

The Apaches considered this to be the land of the Standing Up Rocks. The formation of these rocks started with a volcanic eruption 27 million years ago. Cooling and uplifting created cracks and joints in the rocks. Ice and water erosion continues to enlarge the cracks as weaker material is washed away.

The hike was a great 6 miles out and back.

More rocks

We continually noticed the hard work of the CCC to protect the land and provide good trails as we walked.

We were inspired as we turned around to go have our picnic.
We met a fun couple from Juneau, Alaska as we hiked. They are on the road for four months while their house is rented by legislative delegates while at Alaska's capitol.

Crocodile Rock?

I must say that once we returned that Subway sandwich tasted so good as we sat in the sunshine on a warm rock! It warmed up to 59 degrees. Perfect hiking weather.

I just missed this guy as I stepped over a rock!
 We had to drive from the highway for 35 miles to get to the park but it was well worth the effort. The Chiricahua campground was tight and no reservations were available. The  campground in the town of Willcox worked out just fine. This was a quick stop for us but a good one.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hanging with the birders in Patagonia Lake State Park

We really weren't familiar with this Arizona State Park until our friends, John and Chris, decided to become rangers here for the season. They invited us down. We hadn't seen them in quite a while since they too are on the road a good deal. We took them up on the offer.

The more south we traveled, the higher the mountains became and the trees began to show up.

This part of Arizona is a big draw for birders. Since it is so far from anywhere and the moon did not come out until almost dawn, there were more stars in the sky than I have ever seen.

It was spring break and the kids and families were at the beach or fishing along the shore. It was fun to see a dad walking the birding trail this morning with his brood in tow. At night, it got very quiet. I bet everyone was tired.

There was actually a sighting reported while we were here. 
This is a V.I.B. (very important bird) area.  There was an Ocotillo forest in Sonoita Creek. But with the dry climate and high elevation, they had not leafed out but had lots of buds that should be something to see now that it is supposed to rain today.
The Blackhawk Trail connected to the Sonoita Creek Trail and had several off shoots to extend the hike to 3-4 miles. It was a toasty morning so we called it a morning when we returned to the lake.

Once we returned from our hike, I felt the need to drive the 20 miles to the Mexico Border in Nogales to see the "Wall". It made me sad but far smarter people than me understand the need. I have taken care of border crossers that have had unfortunate circumstances that ended them in the ICU of the hospital I was working in Tucson. I am glad that I just have to take care of them as "people" and not have to make decisions about what to do with that entire situation.

The Wall

I like Ranger John's pimped out ride.

I didn't get a picture of Ranger Chris in her uniform but did get one when they came to have dinner at our "place". Then we spent the evening visiting next too the fire that John provided. The people we meet along the way make our adventure even better.

A male Vermillion Flycatcher 

Our morning walk along the bird path before we loaded up to head to Willcox.

The ladder back woodpecker was hard to get a pictures since he was speedy and after food. Do I sound like a birder? Not so much. These are pretty common here.

 Chris brought some great treats for desert from this bakery in Patagonia. We managed to find our way as we passed through this artsy town and got a couple of morning treats to get us the 90 miles for our next stop.

The winds were getting pretty strong as we arrived in Willcox. We were nestled between RVs once we got settled while the windstorm got stronger in the afternoon.
It was good to just take the afternoon and read and catch up on things since we had no internet or TV while at the lake.