Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Going Down

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.  

 In this photo you can see some of the other hikers that were right in front of us. Look up at the top of the pic and you can see an oblong shaped cave in the wall. It shows better in the pic below. It is larger than it looks in the photos. Many people have tried to get into that cave to see what might be in it. My mom told me of a friend that had tried back in 1944 when she first went to the cliff dwellings. The friend went down a rope trying to get in but you can see in the photo first the rock face goes back a bit and then it comes farther out so mom's friend found himself dangling in front of the cave but to far out and to short of any more rope to actually go into the cave. He said he thought he could see what maybe looked like arrows or spears in the cave. In wasn't until 1968 that rock climbers were able to get into the cave but they didn't find anything but sticks. There was no sign of ancient man getting into the cave. My thought is that this cave would have been a great place for an eagle or hawk to nest which would explain why there were sticks in the cave.

 On our way down we had one view that let us see the parking lot and the motor home where Sarah's dog, Ruby, waited for us.
 Another view showed a bit of the Gila River.
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.

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