Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 6 Day 12 Gila Cliff Dwellings en route to Pie Town

The five of us had a lazy morning in.  Waking up AFTER the sunrise!?  What a luxury.  Since the Cliff Dwellings didn't open until 9:00am, we figured we could take it pretty easy, leave around 8 to get there in time, and get going on the trail not too long after that.  WEELLLLLLL, Ratna and Wide-Angle went for another dip in the hot springs in the morning while Fozzie and HoJo went back up to Doc Campbell's to use the internet one last time.  We all eventually met there and saw Porsche and J.W., who had just arrived!  It was really nice to see them again.

It was a 3 mile paved road walk to the visitor's center, which we thought was a necessary stop.  If you're a hiker, you know that road walking is no fun on the feet.  I know that usually, us city folk, walk on paved sidewalk and streets all the time, but that is really rough pounding on the feet!  Anyway, thru-hikers are the laziest people when it comes to unnecessary miles, so we were not exceptionally pleased to discover that the trail head to the Cliff Dwellings was another 1.5 mile from the Visitor's Center and then we'd have to go back to the Visitor's Center to get on the trail through the Gila River! That's 3 EXTRA miles of road walking. All with our packs on....not so much.  After a fair amount of dilly dallying we walked to the Cliffs.

Wow!  What an amazing place. First of all, we could drop our packs at the trail head and get cold water as well as see some Javelina.  
(Pardon the fuzzy pic)

Then, we got to hike a leisurely trail up to these caves where people had been living for thousands of years, changing groups over the course of time.  

There was a tour guide up there who told us about the most recent inhabitants' diet and lifestyle.  These caves provided safety and comfort for so many different people over the centuries.  It was pretty mind blowing.  I'd have no problem living there.  I wonder why they weren't still inhabited.  Why do people leave places?  Why do town become abandoned?  Why do civilizations crumble?  Unfortunately they didn't have too many answers there because most of the artifacts had been removed by people who had come through the caves before they became protected.  I wanted to connect with these people more, but had no choice but to accept the lack of information.

As we left the Cliff Dwellings we saw a small rattlesnake sunning itself in the rocks and Ratna used her magic and charm to convince a tourist to give us a ride on the 1.5 mile road section back to the Visitor's Center.  He had a small pop up addition on his truck that Ratna and I and our packs crammed into as Wide-Angle rode shotgun. HoJo and Fozzie decided to take a higher route to avoid the river crossings, so they got on a trail head closer to the Cliff Dwellings.
(Our ride back!)

We did 5 miles.  We got on trail quite late and were happy to move slowly through the rough terrain.  The Flood that had come through a couple of years ago really wiped everything out and screwed up all the trails.  
(Nuff said)

It was not an easy 5 miles, but it really was nice to chill and take it easier on my feet.  

(Some hot springs along the way)

We came upon a lovely campsite with a fire pit around 6:30 and decided to call it a night early.  We were in the company of great canyon walls that towered over us and a roaring fire in the fire pit to help dry our wet shoes and socks.

I, unfortunately, had my new sock liners a little too close to the hot fire and burned a large hole right through them!!  I loved those liners!  For 2 days.... Big shame!

The frogs sang me to sleep tonight, gurgling their lullaby near the river.

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