Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A day in Silver City (April 10)

There are a lot of things to do in this neck of the woods, so we thought we would take the Jeep and discover what was out there. We decided to do a 112 mile loop through the mountains of the Gila National Park, called the Trail of the Mountain Spirits. The mountains here are all formed by volcano, and there are lots of things to learn about that process. I really didn't need to know all the details, but this is a tall mountain range, with three peaks within sight of over 10,000 ft. It is the Mogollon Range. That's (muggy-own). I must not have been paying attention that day in Geography class, because I have never heard of them. One thing Pam and I had both heard of was the remains of the Gila Cliff Dwellers, and that was our ultimate destination. We stopped at all the scenic overlooks, and read all the historical plaques, and admired all the snowcaps, and took pictures all the way up to the visitors center. It was a short hike up to the cliff dwellings, and you could actually still walk through them. These people lived here in the 1200's, so they're not really that old, and they had some technology to build with rock and a mortar type mix, similar to adobe. We saw some very unusual birds, and enjoyed the hiking.
On the way back, we took a different road that was much more mountain like, with switch backs and narrow pavement, as well as some Jeep trails. What Mike forgot to mention is that not only is the road filled with switch backs, it's either going straight up or straight down, very narrow and there are NO GUARDRAILS!!!  If you go off the road, you go off a mountain!  It was a bit white knuckle time!!  Pam decided to turn onto a seven mile trail called the Sheep Corral Canyon. We got into some mud, and as the trail went along, it deteriorated to bouncing over mountain rock. We were looking for some elk or other wild animals, but we saw none. Neither did we see a sheep corral. It was beautiful, but we didn't make it all the way to the end, because it was pretty rough, and we were worried about losing daylight. Plus, I was getting hungry. We ended up in a small mountain town called Pinos Altos (tall pines), and a restaurant and bar called the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House. It was very old, but the food w excellent and the things to look at were worth the stop. Geronimo was sitting in a corner playing a slot machine. Really. Pam was introduced to four wheeling in the mountains, and I had a full belly, so it was a good day.

At the overlook looking down into the Santa Rita/Chino open pit copper mine.  Copper has been mined here for over 200 hundred years!  Open pit mining has been going on for over 100 years.  It's huge!

This is a tire off of a vehicle that works in the mine!
Lake Roberts

At the Gila Cliff Dwelling visitor center, there were a bunch of ruby throated hummingbirds.


Hiking up to the cliff dwellings

Looking across the canyon at the dwellings

At the dwellings

Inside one of the caves looking out.  While we were in there, it started to snow outside!  Remember, we are way up the mountain!

Pretty cool stuff!



To get out of the caves, you had to crawl down this ladder!

And I did!!


As we hiked back down from the dwellings, the trail takes you around the mountain and  BAM you see the remains of the 2011 forest fire.  It is very eye opening.
Yup!  That would be snow in New Mexico in April!  What the heck?!
Last time Mike touched snow was last winter when he was plowing!!
After a little off roading....

Dinner at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House




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