The week that started with a bang

When we pulled into the BLM area of Indian Bread Rocks in southeastern Arizona, we were so excited to get outside and play on the wonderland of rocks around us. The distinctive boulders are a delightfully nubby granite, just right for scrambling and exploring. We ran out into our new backyard, easily climbing all the way to the top of a huge outcropping. From our perch, we could see deep into the Dos Cabezas wilderness, a huge area that’s open to wild exploring, with no real trails other than the ones forged by the grazing cattle. We were thrilled to find more free camping with such an awesome backyard.

Soupy is really becoming a little adventure cat!  She trotted herself all the way to the top of these rocks from the valley floor below!

It was getting late in the day, and I had not yet done my yoga, so I grabbed my mat from the RV and headed out to get my namaste on. That is, until I completely missed the step, and snapped the hell out of my ankle. I went down hard, yelling in pain, and I was sure that I had broken it. The first night was pretty bad, and my whole foot and ankle were so tender that I couldn’t put any pressure on them at all. Thankfully, it’s not broken, and every day has been a bit better, but I definitely did quite a number on it. A week later, it’s still pretty ouchy, and while it’s not as swollen as it was, it’s still not right.

So, we had to change all the hiking plans we had for the week, and find more sedentary entertainment instead. (And let me point out that it’s about killing me to not be able to walk much, which is pretty much how I spend several hours each day!)

I’ve wanted to get to Chiricahua National Monument ever since I heard about it—it’s filled with hoodoos like Bryce Canyon, but in grays rather than pinks. The road leading to the hiking areas is closed for construction, so the only option is to hike 6 miles round trip from the visitor center to get to trailheads. That could have been an option, pre-foot-squashing, but definitely off the menu for my gimpy self. Still, we enjoyed the visitor canter, and scouted out possible free camping in the the National Forest near the monument. Our drive took us through Apache Pass, and some gorgeous grasslands with views of the mountains all around.

The best part of the week was meeting a couple other campers who pulled in right next to us, Tasha and Mike. They went full-time RVing in January, and are on their way to California to work for the same concessionaire that employed us our first summer out. They were a super fun couple, full of energy and excited to be living the mobile life. We meet plenty of retirees who travel full-time, and lots of young folks taking an extended trip, but we rarely encounter other young folks doing what we do. It was great to have so much in common to talk about!

By Saturday, my foot was feeling pretty good, and I was itching for an outing, so the four of us went to Fort Bowie National Historic Site. It’s one of the 5 least-visited parks in the US, primarily because of the way you get in. Rather than drive up into the heart of the park, you leave your car in a parking area, and hike through the history of the area. It’s only 1.5 miles each way, but that’s enough to discourage a lot of visitors! We happened to arrive just as a ranger-led walk was about to leave, so we got to learn a lot more about the area. Because of the life-giving natural springs in the area, the only reliable source of water for miles and miles, the are was important first to the Apache, and then to the stagelines coming through. After skirmishes between military troops and the Apache, the US government installed a fort at the junction to guard the spring. There’s not much left of the old fort buildings, but you can see lots of foundations to give you a sense of the size of the whole compound. Plus, the hike was just gorgeous, with sweeping mountain views.

While I really enjoyed the hike, I totally overdid it on the foot that day. We’ve since moved to Gila Box, a Riparian National Conservation Area, with a lot more things to see in the car, and less hiking temptations. There’s a cool river where I can soak my foot, and plenty of wildlife viewing (we saw bighorn sheep!) I have to get my foot healed up, because our trajectory is going to take us up to Northern Arizona next—for cooler temperatures, and tons of hiking in the “Alps of Arizona”.

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