On reaching the Gila Cliff Dwellings and looking around for a bit I took a good long rest on one of the concrete benches that had been put in for people to be able to sit on without sitting or even touching the ruin walls. Sarah went on and did some more exploring and photo taking while I rested. There were only about 6 other tourist there plus a Ranger so it relatively quiet. For many long minutes I was all by my self it seemed. I was able to really appreciate what the first people to live here had - quiet, beauty, food, clothing, warmth in the winter, and coolness in the summer. But especially the beauty. When Sarah returned I knew it was time to leave. Since I had made it the half mile hike up I knew I would have to make it the half mile hike down. It was one step at a time, really one step at a time. And they were steps. Some short and narrow, some rocky, some man-made steps were defiantly made by men as they were long, and steep, not made for short-legged women or kids. At my age I was no longer able to hop around like a teenager or a mountain goat any more. I was very thankful for my wonderful sister's help and the help of my walking cane that I was so glad I had decided I would need on the hike. The Ranger we had met at the cliff dwellings came behind us as we were the last ones to leave. Guess she was making sure we made it down. I was thankful she was behind us.
We were on the back side of where the caves are that make the cliff dwellings. I knew there had been a forest fire in the area a few years before but hadn't realized it had come so close to the little canyon with the creek in it that you hiked up on the first part of the loop to see this wonderful place. You can see burnt trees in some of the photos but some grasses and brush are starting to grow back.
We finally made it back down to our starting point where you first cross the Gila River on a bridge. The nice lady Ranger offered to take our photo and you can see how tired we were. And Yes, it was well worth it.