A few surprises in the Chiricahua Mountains

Here is our campsite in the Coronado National Forest in the Chiricahua Mountains.

February 13 – 15, 2017.

We had already been up a long stretch of muddy road when we saw the yellow ‘Bump Ahead’ sign. It looked just like one you see on an interstate, except that the words ‘next 23 miles’ had been added at the bottom. We pushed on, finding a boondocking site in the woods outside of the Chiricahua National Monument. Then we hiked a little farther up the road.

A vehicle full of folks stopped and asked if we needed a ride. Then another. Then another. We were truly in the middle of nowhere on a cold rainy day. Why all the traffic? The next van stopped, and we were asked if this was the way to the Rainbow Gathering.

On hearing ‘rainbow’ my first thought was ‘Oh, a gay festival’. The second thought came quickly, ‘But why haven’t any of these folks bathed in weeks?’

As the van drove off, Duwan enlightened me. This rainbow group was started by hippies in the early 70s, before Gilbert Baker designed his rainbow flag. Well, no matter, we decided we would take the next ride offered, of course.

The next ride was a short school bus, spray painted black, occupied by three young people, and four big dogs. I can’t remember everyone’s name, but Peyote seemed very glad to meet us. And Scientist parked his nose in my crotch.

We were told that this was the driver’s fourth vehicle. Fifteen years of travel had worn three of his vans out. He had swapped a half pound of weed for this bus. It was a fine bus. Though I did wonder if it would be bad form to take pictures to show Duwan next time she said we were letting our living space get dirty.

The kids were very nice. They told us that 4-5 thousand people were expected, and that the gathering would last a week. Parking was ahead along the roadside. The camp was about a mile up a hiking trail.

They drove us about two miles to where the road was blocked by a creek. They let us out there, as we didn’t want to wade through the water to walk back.

I guess this was the entrance to the parking area. We met a few other people, and helped a couple of guys hang a multi-colored ‘Welcome Home’ banner. Then we started back toward our van.

Halfway back we met a couple of clean cut guys in cowboy outfits pulling a trailer behind their truck. The names Jack and Ennis popped into my mind. They were heading for the gathering. I hope they woke up this morning knowing more about rainbows than I did.

**** All pictures are click to enlarge.

The nearby stream shows that a lot of rain has fallen here recently.

Our ride drops us off before crossing the creek.

One way to stay warm is by keeping a seventh generation Rainbow Gathering pup in your blanket.

Welcome Home, rainbow folk.

Chiricahua National Monument! The story starts a little south of here a short 27 million years ago…

A volcanic eruption sent ash into the air. It settled and compacted forming a thick layer of rhyolite.

Many years of wind, rain, freeze and thaw have left these spectacular pinnacles behind.

Softer layers erode away faster from underneath harder layers making it look as though some rocks are stacked deliberately in some huge balancing act.

Some of the pinnacles are quite tall.

The Faraway Ranch location in Bonita Canyon was at times home to Ja Hu Stafford, Buffalo Soldiers who sought to capture Geronimo, and the Eriksons, who were Swedish immigrant homesteaders. Their daughter, Lillian, married Ed Riggs.

Ed Riggs explored and promoted this ‘Wonderland of Rocks’.

In the 1930’s Ed Riggs led the effort of the Civilian Conservation Corps to build the trails that wind through Chiricahua today.

The hiking trails range from easy to strenuous.

Many formations can only be appreciated by walking the trails.

The day we arrived in the monument it was cloudy. At this altitude we could see nothing but mist. We found a vacancy in the campground and paid to spend a night there. Fortunately, the next day was clear. All these pictures are from the second day.

The name Chiricahua comes from the Chiricahua Apache tribe that used to inhabit this area. Anyone remember the TV Western ‘Hugh Chaparral’? The Chiricahuas were the tribe that gave the Cannon family ranchers so much trouble.

It’s amazing to walk among these pinnacles and marvel at the way they defy gravity.

Until they don’t.

Greg among the rocks.

4 thoughts on “A few surprises in the Chiricahua Mountains

  1. Jo said:

    Beautiful

  2. Tracy Bedenbaugh said:

    I’m guessing “Scientist” was one of the dogs?

    • Duwan said:

      Yep. Duwan found a spot to sit down. I stood in the school bus doorway while bulldog Scientist studied my testosterone level.

  3. I’m hoping Scientist was one of the dogs too 🙂 Funny post, you made me laugh out loud over my morning coffee.

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