Posted by: millspaw | April 15, 2015

A Grand Adventure to the Grand Canyon: Day 11 and 12

April 13, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Silver City, New Mexico

It had rained all night and we were on the road by 7:00 heading to Gila Wilderness. The drive was especially nice with changes in scenery all along.

We traveled past the White Sands National Monument and the mountains surrounding it. The mountains there were varied and interesting.

White dunes

 

As we passed through Deming we entered Cookes Range and passed through Mimbres Mountains. The climb was steep and beautiful.

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When we reached the summit the view was unbelievable. You could see for miles.

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On our way down our brakes started to give out on the camper. It was so steep for such a long distance. IMG_4602We stopped by this river to let our brakes cool before traveling on. It wasn’t long until we found Woody’s horse camp. The problem was, they were fixing the bridge in front of the camp and there were trailers, equipment and a loud generator that would be running all night long. Not the wilderness experience we were hoping for.

Woody’s is nice. There are four extra-large corrals for the horses with a water tank. The camper has plenty of room around it. There were two other riders there when we arrived.

We drove up to the Gila Visitor center and picked up a map, went through their museum and watched a short video about the Cliff Dwellers. Tomorrow we will ride the trail.

April 14, 2015

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

The trails here are magnificent. We rode high above the Cliff Dweller Canyon where we could see forever. But the highlight of this stop was the Cliff Dwellings themselves. We tied the horses to a high-line and walked the half mile to the dwellings.

Stoney at cliff dwellings

Many different groups of people inhabited the area over several thousand years. There are about 40 rooms built inside of five natural caves. They had separate sleeping quarters, gathering areas and storage areas.

There is evidence of hearth, ash pits and circular depressions that may have held large round-bottomed pots. The ceilings are blackened with soot from many years of fires. We even saw some corn cobs that they say are 400 years old.

400 year old corn

We were allowed to enter cave 2, 3, 4 and 5. The National Park Service had built ladders so that we could peer over the tops of walls. They believe each structure had branches covered with clay for their roofs originally. About 80% of the walls are original masonry. All of the wood is original, except for the ladders, and archeologists have taken plugs and studied the growth rings to date the construction to the 1280s. The “T” shaped doorways can be found in other areas of the South-west and northern Mexico.

It was great fun to explore and imagine what it would have been like back then.

 

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