Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fort Bowie/ Apache Pass/ Chiricahua

Today is a special day. I am going to a National Historic Site and I get to bring Miko!!! Most National facilities only allow dogs in the parking lots and not on trails or in buildings. They say it is because dogs can disrupt the wildlife. Ft. Bowie National Historic Site allows dogs. Ft. Bowie is also unique in that to get to the actual site itself, you have to hike. You have to hike about a 1.5 miles along a trail that basically follows the old military route.

Ft. Bowie and Apache Pass were focal points of military operations by the U.S. Army against the Chiricahua Apaches for control of the area. This struggle ended in 1886 when Geronimo surrendered.

Before I left home, I had bought a collapsible dog dish so that I could give Miko water during trail hikes. When we got to the trail head, lord knows, but I couldn't find the bowl. I put three bottles of water in my backpack, strapped on my wide brim hat and we took off. You have to hike about a 1.5 miles along a trail that basically follows the old military route. It was pleasant, but hot. There wasn't too much shade to speak of, but the views were great. You were pretty much walking in a valley between the mountains. We did stop once and I would pour water into my hand so Miko could drink.

Interesting fact – we passed the ruins of the Butterfield Stage coach stop. The Butterfield Stage route was only in existence for a couple of years. I don't know how they got the stagecoaches through such mountainous terrain. Previously, when we were in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, there was another Butterfield stagecoach stop there also. Butterfield guaranteed that mail would get from St. Louis to San Francisco in 25 days which is amazing.

What the Park Board does not tell you is that the last ½ mile of the hike is all uphill. At the top of the hill were the remains of the old fort – basically just the foundations were left. There was a visitor center there and water. I ran into two park rangers, one had tons of guns/ammo/mace while the other was wearing a bullet proof vest. I asked them why. They said that they were special rangers – they were law enforcement rangers who are specially trained. I can't remember the exact numbers(these numbers are just to show percentage, they have no factual value) but they said that there are 150,000 rangers and out of those 1500 are law enforcement types. And I got to see two of them, in the flesh together. What a sighting.

They are also trained EMT personnel and they went and got a bowl of water for Miko. We sat and chatted for a while and then they moved on to their law enforcement duties. There was an education ranger also there and I asked her a few questions about the fort. It was only her third day there so she got to practice telling me about the fort. I'm so glad I could help out.

After getting hydrated and rested up, we went back down the trail and walked back. It was so much easier to go back downhill than all that uphill climbing. When I got back to the car and we were all done hiking, I found Miko's bowl – it had fallen under the seat.

Someday I will have to take a picture of Miko from the front

We got back into the car and drove for an hour to Chiricahua National Monument. It is also called the Land of Standing Up Rocks. Sure are a lot of rocks in the southwest. Just saying. This was a National facility where dogs were not allowed on the trails so we were just going to take the scenic drive. This was another drive up into the mountains, switchbacks, scary cliffs – you know the drill. Chiricahua is an isolated mountain chain that was created millions of years ago when some volcanos erupted. Erosion over the years created a whole bunch of interesting rock formations. They are very grand – with modern technology, I don't understand why they can't get cameras to capture the spectacle.
Or maybe it is me and my limited photographic skills. 

Back to the RV and both of us just crashed – it had been an exhausting day, but quite a bit of fun. A very scenic day.

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