The weather was great although on Wednesday it did get a little windy! all had a great time, with a lot of laughter at the happy hours!
A little history of the area. The monument was established in 1924 to wisely protect these formations. In 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corps set to work building a set of trails to highlight the wonders of the park. The park is very proud of this heritage and history. It should be, the CCC built a wonderful set of trails that persists to this day. Looping together many of them in the high country by taking off from the Echo Canyon trail head atop the Bonita Canyon Drive puts it all together into the wonderful Big Loop…the best of everything the park has to offer.
Our first day, we traveled to Cochise Stronghold. In the 1860’s, the charismatic Chiricahua Apache leader, Cochise, adopted the rugged canyons that cross the midsection of the Dragoon Mountains as a refuge for himself and his people. The place came to be known as Cochise Stronghold. One feature of this natural fortress was that the two rocky canyons, one from each side of the mountain range, nearly meet high in the Dragoons. With their outlandish rock formations and thick oak-juniper vegetation they offer a concealed escape route in either direction. No one knows how many times Cochise and his people used these two canyons and the trail that connects them to move across these mountains.
Our first hike was a 4.6 mile hike up and back on the Stronghold trail, to Half Moon tank. A nice hike although it was up hill most of the way. Several went beyond the Tank to an overlook of the valley below. The rest of us, including me, stayed and ate our lunch at the tank. The day started cool, but quickly warmed and it even spit rain!
After the hike we proceeded to Willcox to check in at the Days Inn, our lodging for the next 2 nights.
Bright and early the next am, after breakfast we headed to the Chiricahuas and our full day of hiking. Lois, JoEllen and I took the shorter trail from Echo Canyon trailhead to the visitor center. This was a beautiful trail and for the most part shielded us from the strong wind.
This photo was taken near the turn that would lead us to the Grottos. In the background are the rock formations similar to the Hoodoos found in Bryce Canyon, except they are a dull brown and not red!
The larger group took the longer trail, 7.3 miles down to the visitor center.
It was a long day and we all met back at the Days Inn for another Happy hour! All commented that this was a good day to hike and we brought everyone back.
If someone would write up the story of the long hike and email it to me, I would appreciate it. Would love to hear about your hike!
Our next next hike on Thursday was a historical hike to Ft. Bowie. Fort Bowie commemorates the bitter conflict between Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military – a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for settlement and the taming of the western frontier. It provides insight into a “clash of cultures,” a young nation in pursuit of “manifest destiny,” and the hunter/gatherer society fighting to preserve its existence.
This was a short 1.9 mile hike to the remains of the FT. along the route were numerous signs about the flora and several ruins and info about the indians as well as the settlers in the area.
This was a very pleasurable and interesting trip, that provided ot only a history lesson, but the beauty of the “Desert Island in the Sky”
Happy Trails, David