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Took Granddaughters to Gila Cliff Dwellings (pics)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Saturday my ex, Ray, and I took two of our granddaughters to Lake Roberts, which I posted about in my last blog. On that day I kind of made a "mistake" to commit to do something all together again on Monday, since I had the day off from work and the kids didn't have school. It turned out to be a good "mistake" and we had another great day. It makes me feel so good to see my granddaughters have such a great time, and they also love doing things with their grandfather.

When Ray called me yesterday morning, I was kind of hoping to talk him into someplace fairly close, like the City of Rocks state park. But he didn't really want to go there, and said he would like to go up to the area around the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the camping area called the forks, where two different feeds into the Gila River come together in a Y up in the mountains. We went camping there many years ago when our kids were small and we were still married. I've been up in that area number of times over the years, but he hadn't been there in many many years and really wanted to go that way. About a 2 hour drive up a winding mountain road. I don't mind the winding mountain road, in fact I love driving those kinds of roads. I was just kind of tired and hadn't intended on going that far. But I agreed because there are a lot of places I get to see but he doesn't anymore. So I picked him up about 9:30 and we took off. I invited my 12 year old grandson but he gets carsick, and my 14 year old granddaughter but she's too cool she things for things like that right now and would rather stay home and be on facebook or talking to friends all day. But Keyana and Bethany (ages 10 and 8) love to go.

We drove way up into the mountains and stopped at an overlook near the top of the mountain. The girls had to walk in the snow patches instead of avoiding them LOL. Great views from there. Bethany found some deep snow. There were a lot of dry patches there too.

Then we drove down the other side of the mountain for about 7 miles before it leveled off more. The girls wanted to stop at the river, but we told them we would on the way back because it was still kind of chilly and shady there. So we drove on to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, which is about 15 or 20 minutes further up the road from the campground they wanted to explore. Our original plans had not been to hike up to the dwellings, since Ray can't do that kind of climbing anymore and dogs aren't allowed on the trail there. But then after we talked about it he said he would walk around down in the parking area and a little bit on a forest trail that leads off of the parking lot into the wilderness area. So I took the girls and we started the trail up to the dwellings. The first half of the trail was in a lot of shade, and pretty chilly, but as it winds around and climbs up to the dwellings it's more in the sun and warmed up quickly. I always forget just how many stone steps are on the second half of the trail up to the cliff LOL! In addition to the bigger bridge starting out, there are 8 small bridges we cross before we get to the steps and the steep climb up.

Now we start the steps. They get a lot steeper as we go up but I didn't take pictures this time of all of them, or of the dwellings. I posted a blog when my friend Lyndaloves2hike from last Memorial Day weekend. There are a lot more pictures of the actual area in this blog if you want to see more.

Keyana had to rest her legs and catch her breath. So did I so she gave me a good excuse to stop for a moment.

View of the area around from inside one of the dwellings

The girls were interested in how the Mogollon Indians lived in here and enjoyed it. Going down was much much easier LOL. We had to go back down the same way we came up. Usually you follow a trail past the dwellings as you leave to make a big circle, but the said the usual path down was closed because of too much ice on the trail. There were quite a few people out and I heard one guide come up to take the place of the one that was up there so the one that had been there could go to lunch because there was a group of 20 coming up for a guided tour. We met that group on the way back down.

After we left there we went to a little picnic area just down the road, and ate lunch. By the time we got through with all of that it was close to 2 pm and had warmed up a lot so we drove back to the campsite by the river and walked around some more with the girls. There were a couple of people that were fishing, but no campers right now. But as the weather warms up this spot is very popular. Many many years ago we camped here on a 4th of July weekend and I swear there were more people out there than in town. That's when I decided I did not want to go camping on a holiday weekend again. I go for peace and quiet and not to hear all the ones that go out there to party all night.

The river runs under the bridge on the highway we had just come back from. If you follow the river down a little ways there is a sign that says you are entering the wilderness area. I remember that from before. The only way we got there was to walk in the water a little ways through this area to get to land again. Water was definitely too cold to go walking in today!

Right here is where two forks combine into one in a Y.

We followed the one that went to the right through the camping area. Lots of little "waterfalls" as the girls called them where rocks are across the river. We saw a lot of those.

At this point a dirt road crosses the river. Sometimes the river is lower than right now, and sometimes higher. Need a good 4 wheel high clearance vehicle to cross it. If the river was warmer though it would have been nice to walk across it and follow the road.

This little "waterfall" had much more ice around it than the others had. We are almost at the end of the campground now. Being out there made me want to go camping again so badly. However I really don't want to be there at night right now. Still too cold. But it was about 50 or a little more there when we were there and so very nice and peaceful.

We had a really lovely day and I really need to do this with them more. I go out a lot by myself, but really need to take them out more, and the older ones too if they will go. Glad I made the "mistake" of committing to go out yesterday with Ray and the girls. He walks a lot slower and a lot of the time we were off exploring and he was wandering around and eveyone was okay with that. I got in a few miles of walking with them. They were really tired and slept on the way home some. I was tired too. And Lady, the little dog, was also exhausted but she also had a wonderful time!

Now it's back to work today.

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