Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Going UP!

The Visitors Center is about a mile from where the climb to the Gila Cliff Dwellings actually begins. The hike is supposed to be a half mile up and another half mile down making a large loop up through a narrow canyon to the top of the cliff and then back down the back of the cliff. The first two photos are of the cliff but the dwellings are hid from this angle. They are on the back of the cliff.

Ranger Bill was nice enough to talk to us, telling us what we could expect on our hike. I still wasn't sure I wanted to go all the way up and I knew it would be quite a trip. Sarah had volunteered to go all the way and take photos. But deep in my mind I knew I wanted to do this. The cliff dwelling we something that were very special to my mom and our family as my mom had come here in 1944 before there was really any road. I knew this would be my last chance to ever do this. I am 65 and know that my mom and dad would be pleased to know that I did this in their memory.

The Gila River as seen from the first bridge you cross. This bridge was about a hundred yards long. The other bridges weren't near as long, some just a few feet as they let us criss-cross back and forth over the little creek that wound down the canyon. I am sure it was the river and the creek as well as the easy defense of this canyon home that the cliff dwellers found so favorable.

 The first actual view of the cliff dwelling was obscured some by the twigs of the trees. The trees are thick in this canyon due to the creek, which helped with food and firewood for the cliff dwellers. It is thought that the Mogollon Culture people moved here in about the late 1200's. There were about 40 rooms in the five caves that were made by nature long before any humans lived in them. The Mogollon people used the rocks they found to make the walls. The top of the caves are black from their fires and the fires made by the many looters that discovered the cares in the late 1800's and took most of the pots and other things left by the Mogollon. (pronounced Mug-eee- own, not at all as it is spelled. There is the ghost town of Mogollon, also in Grant County, and the Mogollon Rim Country in Arizona.)(We had been to the town of Mogollon as teens and thought about going but knew the motor home would not make it up the narrow dirt road that goes to the ghost town, where several people still live. My nephew had tired last spring and didn't make it in his car. Mogollon was a mining town.)

These collared lizards were everywhere and quite friendly. You can see the dark ring around his neck that gives them their name.

 Much of the way up is nice walking on a narrow trail but then it becomes steep steps like the ones I am climbing here. Sarah and I took turns with my camera, both of us taking lots of photos.

First good view of the cliff dwelling but still a ways to go.

This is what the other side of the canyon from the cliff dwellers looks like.

 This little squirrel entertained us while we took a break in our hike.
I actually think we are going to make it. Now that I've made it up I'll have to hike back down. Makes me wonder what the rangers do when someone can't make the hike back down. There were several volunteer rangers along the trail in in the cliff dwellings to make sure that everyone was safe, and not doing any damage or picking up rocks. They were full of wonderful information about the dwellings.

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