1/30/13 Wednesday at Benson, AZ (Valley Vista RV-PPA)
Another very cold night, but at least it wasn’t windy. Lots to do before we drive to Fort Bowie (BOO-ee): make a batch of pancakes to enjoy now and freeze for later, get the tortilla soup ingredients in the crock pot, lunches made and packed and breakfast plus other project dishes washed. Whew!! Made it on the road by 10:30.
Driving 33 miles on I-10 to Willcox, then 22 miles on Hwy 186 then 8 miles on a dirt/gravel road to the trail head. That’s right – we get to walk 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center. The ranger there only knew of 1 other National Site where people walked to the Visitor Center, it is in Alaska. We were eager for the walk, though.
Since we arrived at noon, we figured it was best to have lunch before taking off on our walk.
View of trail from our lunch table.
At the trail head, also, we saw a car that had been there since 1/26/13, plastered with notes from the Park Ranger re breaking certain laws. Hmm. Did this person go off trail (it’s been so cold), or get a ride from another visitor?
Everyone wanted access to Apache Pass because, besides being a route through the Chiricahua and Dos Cabezas mountains, it also had Apache Spring.
Indian Chief Cochise (6 feet tall) was friendly with the local people when the 5th California Volunteer Infantry built the (first Fort Bowie), but then a settler claimed that his tribe was responsible for kidnapping his Mexican woman’s child from his property, among other things. When Lt. Bascom lured Cochise into his tent and threatened to hold him hostage until all was returned, Cochise, furious and insulted at the false accusations, slashed through the tent and escaped. That began 10 years of war with Cochise and his band. When he surrendered, he and 900 other Apaches stayed at this reservation (3,000 sq. miles which included their homeland) until he died of natural causes in 1874. At that point, without clear leadership, young Apaches grew restless and disenchanted, plundering the settlements nearby. The government moved the reservation to a desolate, dry area near the Gila River. At this point, Geronimo began leading the rebellion, even though he was not a chief, but a medicine man. He saw in a vision that he wouldn’t die in battle and it bore true. He alternately was peaceful and waged war with the settlers until he surrendered, thus ending the Apache Wars.
Between the yucca at the far left and to the far right lie the second Fort Bowie ruins. Even though enlarging the photo by clicking on it helps you to spot some of the ruins, I realize they are hard to find. Know that the fort encompassed all this area in its heyday.
After enlarging this picture you’ll see the post’s cemetery fence line located between the prickly pear in the center and the mountain above it. We are looking down at the trail we took coming to the forts. We then traveled along a steep, switch backed trail back down.
This was an amazing experience, to think that we are walking the paths of history. Cochise and Geronimo are more than just names for us now, part of a strong, vibrant people wanting to keep their homelands and lives as they had for centuries.
We were pretty tired puppies when we got back to our car, happy to get off our feet and heading home. There was a small surprise waiting for us: we’d both made sure that the crock pot had been set at low. Unfortunately nobody plugged it into power. Thus, it just sat and waited for our return. Sigh. So John gathered up the energy to make gravy and mashed potatoes to enjoy with leftover pork roast while I worked on yesterday’s blog. We plugged in the crock pot and finished cooking our tortilla soup by 9:30 pm. There are 4 containers of soup ready for us now. I kept working at the blog while we watched TV until bedtime.