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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Saunter Halfway Down the Easy Trail

 


I wouldn't take a dog on a leash on the Echo Canyon Loop that my neighbor and I hiked two years ago. Even the trail going up from the Visitor Center was no fun when another friend and I tried it with Sarah. But from Faraway Ranch to the Visitor Center an easy trail beckoned, and the other day I tried half of it, beginning at the Visitor Center and walking halfway to Faraway Ranch. Had I not left my phone at home, I could have walked the whole distance and called David to pick me up at the other end, but when I left him at the parking lot I didn't know how long the trail was or how much of it I wanted to explore that day. 

It was so lovely! Chiricahua Monument was busier than we expected on a weekday (spring break?), but the trail was wilderness-quiet and empty. I saw the deer before I had time to get my camera in position -- and then didn't want to alarm them. Just stood and watched. They stood and watched back. Magical moments with time standing still. 

There were, however, signs of not-so-peaceful times: forest fire struck here not all that long ago.

Burned tree


Most trees, though, were flourishing, and many were gigantic, especially along the bed of the creek, dry at present.



Occasional openings in the canopy give way to spectacular mountain views.





There were stretches of lovely, open stretches of savannah, but whether in these parklike areas or along the dry creek, the trees are the stars of the trail.






Though sometimes my eye was attracted to smaller scenes at ground level or only slightly above.




Silver Spur Meadow: evocative name, beautiful place!



Every so often a bench had been placed at the side of the trail, and a couple of interpretive signs gave some history along the way. The "tree army" sign brought my Uncle Paul to mind, as he served in the CCC during World War II while his brothers were in the Army and Navy. Paul, who had lost much of his hearing from measles in childhood, was not considered fit for the military, but he did good work for his country, and I was always impressed by his knowledge of trees.



Were these monumental twin fireplaces part of the old CCC camp? I should have read the sign more thoroughly, but I will go back another time better prepared to linger.





Next photograph may not look like much to you, but to my eye --. Look closely! Evidence of horses!!!


Were my boots made for walkin'? They did quite a bit of it on Thursday. The dust tells the story. 

Maybe I'll start at the Faraway Ranch end next time....




















 





Monday, March 15, 2021

A Few Minutes of Peasy's Morning Adventure



Peasy explored down into a deep arroyo and up to the other side. This is a series of photos I took (instead of a video, which challenges me) of the good dog coming when called.








Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Day of Pack Adventures

 


Tuesday was a day of multiple adventures for little Peasy's family. First thing in the morning he and I went exploring with our neighbors. There was a lot of running and chasing, but little Peasy came back to me every time I called him. 



One of our expedition destinations that day was this beautiful old stone wall, which local knowledge tells us is a remnant of the old mine railroad to Dos Cabezas. The line here led to a roundhouse -- or if not an entire "house," at leasts a turntable for the train. Peasy and Molly took turns playing monarch of the mountain on the wall.




Other ghost town remnants included car parts, scattered near a wash. 


More in keeping with the natural surroundings was this beautiful metate, used for grinding mesquite seeds into flour long before cars and trains came to Dos Cabezas. 


Sarah and Molly, the most active members of the expedition, were eager and happy to return to Therese's yard and have her run rainwater into the wading pool. 


And I was happy to have a tour of leafing and flowering trees and other plants in my neighbor's beautifully tended landscape.


But I had more ideas for the day's adventure and wasn't done yet. My suggestion to the Artist was that we drive down to Tombstone and take the Old Charleston Road southwest -- not as far as Sierra Vista but just to where the road crosses the San Pedro River. In Benson the San Pedro has been nothing but a big, wide, dry ditch all winter (what I think is that the river ducks underground there, as our little neighborhood stream back in Michigan does in drought times); however, I had seen very recent photographs of water in the riverbed down in the Conservation Area and wanted to see it for myself at this spot we had discovered and walked last year with Sarah. Not dammed, the San Pedro is the last free-flowing river in the Southwest. Water! Flowing! Isn't it beautiful? 



We had planned to walk down there along the river's banks, but the steep slope from the parking area to the river was so eroded and treacherous-looking that we dared not attempt it in our Tuesday footwear and without hiking poles. The obvious solution, to walk the footbridge and enjoy the river from above, paid off with more than the view when unexpected mementoes greeted our eyes on the fence along the walkway. At first we saw only one or two locks, and the Artist exclaimed, "It's just like Paris!" (That's something he does not say often in Arizona!) -- Not that we left locks on any bridge in Paris when we were there, I hasten to add! 



Then, from noticing at first isolated locks, we realized they stretched the length of the bridge. Single, double, in large groups, from tiny to large, and some quite sweetly evocative of love.







The Artist asked me if I was disappointed not to have been able to walk along the river. No, I told him, because we had seen the river, it was flowing and beautiful, and if we'd been able to walk alongside it we wouldn't have gone across the bridge and would have missed the locks of love. I'm all for serendipity, unexpected sights that are so often delightful.

Back in Tombstone, we did a little back-of-town exploring. This handsome old building, fitted out with new windows -- what will it be? Nearby clues led us to suspect a brewpub in the future. For now, even the "Keep Out" sign is handsome, I thought. And who can resist an old outhouse?




It was interesting to view the historic courthouse from a different angle, too.



And while many sights clamor for the attention of tourists, sometimes I am just as intrigued (if not more so) by bits not yet "restored," like this old gas station.


There aren't a lot of "back roads" in the West, but we have found one that shortens our expressway return to Willcox, a road that is beautiful in any weather, and we had no reason to resist it on our way home.


It wass unusual to have Cochise Stronghold, almost always my visual focus of the Dragoons, so hidden in shadow that a section of the mountains to the south, in the sun's spotlight, commanded our attention instead.



The adventure from Willcox southeast to our own ghost town was a dust storm, wind picking up dry particles from the playa and swirling them so thickly that my camera had nothing to focus on for a while, nothing distinct in our surroundings. We could not see mountains in any direction ahead or to our right or left, which was very disorienting, as mountains in Arizona are to me what the Great Lakes are in the Midwest, indispensable to orienting in space.


Ah, there they are! Gradually appearing, phantom-like, from the dusty haze --.


And as we climb up to Dos Cabezas, the air clears under real clouds. Too bad we only had scattered drops of rain all day. A good rain would help to lay the dust and slake the thirst of the dry land.


Home again for a simple dinner of black beans and rice, all three of us were well content with our day of adventure in Cochise County, Arizona, first Peasy and me on foot with our neighborhood pack, then our family pack on the road. It was a very good day!




Big Pea and Little Pea