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Old 4th January 2014, 22:49   #1
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Default Chiricahua - A Rock Farm

That is just greeting every one with a smile!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0155.jpg

So, folks, this is sort of a travelogue that I had composed some time ago, but didnt post for whatever reasons. I say ‘sort of’ as this is about a one day trip to a nearby place. But it was a fun trip all alone!
I have been in Phoenix for the past few months and have been getting really bored to the bone. I know very few people in this city and was really lost. Mall and restaurant hopping are not exactly the kind of digression that can pull one out of extreme boredoms, more so with me. They all look the same and when not supported by an inclination and desire to buy, it is a waste of time.

And thus began the process of trying to discover the place itself. And what a lovely location it is! Phoenix happens to be within driving distance from a lot of places. Los Angeles is 372 miles, Las Vegas is 287 miles, San Diego is 355 miles and in general most places on the scenic west cost is within driving limits. And there are several other wonders like the Grand Canyon – 229 miles, Zion National Park – 380 miles, Antelope Canyon – 320 miles, Sedona – 116 miles, all extremely inviting national parks located very close to Phoenix. These places are tailor made for treks, hikes, camping and backpacking. That explained why there are so many Jeep wranglers and sports gear stores in Phoenix!
Grand Canyon, Zion National Park in Utah (in a 320 HP Chevy Camaro! may be I will write it up in a separate thread), Chiricahua National Monument were the ones that I started my exploration with. So why am I beginning with Chiricahua? I don’t know, perhaps because I drove in my car and took more pics of my car on this trip than others. Or may be that is true, I felt more ‘engaged’ on this trip that the trips to Grand Canyon or Zion which are definitely more beautiful and ‘offered’ more than Chiricahua.

Chiricahua is a 4-5 hour drive from Phoenix. It is a national park known for its unique rock formations resulting from volcanic activities years ago. Chiricahua means wild turkey in Opata which is the language of the indigenous people who inhabited parts of US – Mexico border. The plan was to drive to Tucson, then to Wilcox and then to Chiricahua, hike on a 4 mile trail called Echo Canyon at the park and then drive back the same day. Not much preparation except carrying a hydration pack, apples, bananas and few granola bars.

First halt - Tucson - The drive till Tucson was relatively straight on Interstate 10 East. Most of the drive was through roads like the one above.
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0184.jpg

I passed through mostly uninhabited areas except Tucson (yes, the same city Hyundai has named its compact SUV after!) and Wilcox (I have operated a Boiler that had the same name!) which is where Chiricahua is located. This drive was a realization and learning for me. I have spent most of my time in the US on the east coast in areas that are relatively urbanized and does not retain many hints of what US was in the then times. So, after leaving Phoenix, it was pretty much barren on either side of the road till I reached Tucson. Tucson is like one of those smaller towns in India located on national highways, where the city stops almost as soon as it starts. This was a first time experience for me! More barren land followed till I reached Wilcox.

Second Halt - Wilcox - Now, I had heard of ghost towns, where entire city was vacated for some reasons. Wilcox resembled what could be a near ghost town. There were some run down motels, truck repair facilities, gas stations, spare part stores etc. but none of them appeared to be open for business, there were no vehicles on the roads, no humans or hints of human activity could be found. There was an eerie blankness about it. And yes, as if to complete the picture, there was also a rail station primarily for transporting containers.

Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0179.jpg

Road to Chiricahua - So then, I left Wilcox, and then it was a drive towards Chiricahua. Chiricahua is famous for its unique rock formations. And as I was getting closure to the national park naturally I was curious to see any hints of what it is. I had obviously done my research and knew what I was looking for. But just like a suspense thriller where the killer is not identified till the last frame, there was nothing giving away what the unique rock formations looked like. That’s Mother Nature!

The drive from Wilcox to Chiricahua was an interesting one. At one point I crossed this house that had like a 1000 vintage cars in various conditions parked in the yard. There was nothing else, no house, no other signs of human habitation and absolutely nothing in the vicinity that would explain what the owner did in there with so many cars. But heck, should that be deterrent from taking pics. No way and I stopped to take pics. Sensing alien presence this big dog (behind the pale green car (Cadillac??) on the right side) emerged from behind a car and spat out (what I imagine) are the choicest expletives in dog language. Next to follow I thought would be the dog’s master with a shotgun!!! Imagine a huge guy in tattered carpenters, a worker cap worn backwards, a cigar hanging out of the mouth and a shotgun aimed at your temple! So before any further damage happened I vanished from the scene.

Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0188.jpg

There were some interesting scenery to be seen. Sample this….a herd of cow!! Trust me after 6 years in the US I had almost convinced myself that all the meat were grown in factories and cows in its entirety only existed in picture books! A herd of cows grazing in, what can be loosely termed as, wild was a pleasant site to me.

Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0199.jpg

And finally it happened, the park, the rock formations! And a very encouraging road sign as well!

Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0216.jpg

Here after it was all about the park and the hike on Echo Canyon trail. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

See the rock stuck between two others.
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0221-copy.jpg

There are places to pull over on the way, this is one such spot I stopped to explore
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0231.jpg

I started my hike here.
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0246.jpg

How about this for a balancing act! This was at the beginning and later realized this was only a baby among monsters!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0251.jpg

A farm of rocks!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0289.jpg

What is so special about this pic? Watch closely, the small rock in the middle is actually held in its place by the three giant rocks around it.
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0267.jpg

There were several such crevices along the trail.
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0275.jpg

Yes, that one is leaning on the rock on the right!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0290.jpg

That is delicate!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0265.jpg

Unlike most trails which start at a base, you climb all the way to the top and then find your way back to the starting point, the Echo Canyon trail was different. Here one drives all the ways to the top, then follow the trail to Echo Park (pic below) which is the lowest point of the trail and then go back to the top following a different route.
I was trekking all alone and there was absolutely no one else in the vicinity! At this spot above there was a small water stream next to the park and plenty of trees. So trees providing shade from extreme heat and stream providing water makes this a very good resting place for wild animals. I would imagine cougars or black bears, which are not uncommon in this forest, not to mind a human for lunch. Yes, I was a bit scared!
But then on a positive note how many times have we been all alone in the middle of pristine nature? The settings do bring in thoughts, introspections, retrospections that we all are quiet capable of doing, but the daily grind we all go through just does not provide an opportunity to.

Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0297.jpg

I continued to walk and completed the trail which took me about 2.5 hours. At the end of it I was left with a refreshed mind, extremely tired legs and a pair of dirty shoes!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0308.jpg

A parting shot! Romancing Rocks!
Chiricahua - A Rock Farm-dsc_0293.jpg

Last edited by Sanjunair5 : 4th January 2014 at 23:46.
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Old 7th January 2014, 14:25   #2
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Default Re: Chiricahua - A Rock Farm

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogue
Section. Thanks for sharing !!

That's a nice drive and travelogue. Those huge boulders must be really intimidating in the real sense.

Btw, i have a good friend living in Chandler, AZ and drives a similar SUV ( But, an Acura). Do you also live there?
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Old 8th January 2014, 02:21   #3
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Default Re: Chiricahua - A Rock Farm

Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogue
Section. Thanks for sharing !!

That's a nice drive and travelogue. Those huge boulders must be really intimidating in the real sense.

Btw, i have a good friend living in Chandler, AZ and drives a similar SUV ( But, an Acura). Do you also live there?
They definitely are intimidating. Some of those rock towers are really tall.

This place is just 60 miles from the Mexican border, practically unmanned and hence an ideal refuge for people sneaking into US. Hence there are security concerns as well. I think thats the reason Chiricahua does not get a lot of visitors.

I do live very close to Chandler, may be 20 miles or so.
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Old 8th January 2014, 06:56   #4
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Nice log and nice pics.
In the 19th century when America was getting divvied up by the White Settlers, Chiricahua and areas close to the Mexican border like this one, were considered infamous on account of their being the haunt of the feared Apache Tribe of Native Americans. There were ( to my knowledge, two main tribes of Apaches - the Chiricahua and the Jicarilla. Arguably the Apaches were the world's greatest guerrilla fighters and perhaps a little more brutal and ruthless than other similar tribes.
They fought all day, never showing themselves, sniping at the 'White Eyes' with bows and arrows, rifles and what have you. Causing chaos by driving off the horses and generally creating mayhem. They never fought at night. And they never left the body of a fallen comrade behind, believing that if he were left behind, he would be damned in hell forever. Amazing to read these legends. Also amazing to see your photo of this land, to which i have never been and really wish to go, some day.
Since you're sitting there, if you like reading, try and pick up any of the books by Louis L' Amour - they will give you a genuine insight into this land like no one else can!
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