Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gilla Cliff Dwellings, N.M.

A few years ago, we decided to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings recognized as the Gila Wilderness National Monument. We were not let down by the surroundings or the cliff dwelling themselves.
                                                     Lake Roberts

The drive in to the remote area can be taken on Route 15 directly north from Silver City, N. M. or a round about Route 35, which is safer for vehicles longer than maybe 25'. Tight turns on old roads, with overhanging trees make 15 fine if your in a car or small RV and that is the road I took in 3 years ago. Now however, driving a 40' RV and towing a car, I chose the longer, milder, Route 35.

The views going in were beautiful and more so as I gained altitude in the mountains.

Roads began to get steeper as you can see here! Steep climbs and descents.

                                                    in 3rd gear.

 and the signage warned well in advance of any 'interesting' road conditions.

I'll let the signs speak for themselves.

Well, with one exception. Many turns had no guard rails and if lucky there was an ''arrow” alerting drivers which way the road was going to go. On this one turn...they added a bright red and white reflector...for those asleep at the wheel and don't understand a mere arrow!

 It was at least a few hundred feet down, if someone drove straight.

The drive is 40 miles and it normally takes about 2 hours. I took a bit longer as I often took time for photos.
Wildlife sometimes are on the road, so care has to be taken for them and cattle that free range out here.  To try to keep them within some boundaries, Cattle Guards cross the roads on perimeters.
Cattle won't cross these openings across the roads.

Once at the Visitor Center, I took time again to view the display area. Places like this are special and getting a feel for it's history as it relates to the world geologically or early human life here, always intrigues me.

The Apache jar, sealed with pine pitch.

A simple sandal worn by some Indian.

Once I got the rig parked, Pete, my pooch and I took a walk along the stream bed. It seems that back in September, there was a massive flood in this region, toppling old growth and washing out millions of tons of sediment in the streams.

I came across this fused section of mammal bone material, on a low bar mid stream, that because of the placement of it, was one of the last items washed from an embankment. Not sure what it is, but I'll be researching it. It's not bear, elk, deer, moose etc. , I've checked.

The 3 vertebral sections are fused and the last one is quite different.

The next day, I was at the entrance for the hike up to the Cliff Dwellings early. Arrived at the top relaxed and already took many photos. Early morning is so quiet up here....except for the sounds of birds. They are everywhere.

Had a nice chat with the gent who was to offer the tour of the dwellings.

At one time, ranchers wishing to drive out Apaches, burned all organic material within these cliff dwellings  and destroyed most of the pictographs..  Above is what is left of ?

These cliffs were the result of several different volcanic flows.  Within this layer, can be seen small bits of rock within a material that was liquid at the time...then hardening to this solid layer.

Spent about 2 hours up there and on my decent, noticed lizards warming up on the rocks and a butterfly/moth landing on rocks that had moss or ?

 The same color as it's wings.

Down below at base camp, called the Upper Scorpion, I hiked several of the trails that were still walkable. Again, the floods damaged many of the hiking trails and unless you wanted to cross streams several times, hiking was limited.

However, I found a couple of interesting items... One, a man made 2 room shelter under a rock overhang.

Inside, it was no more than 4' high and there was evidence of a cooking fire having charred the ceiling of one section.

At another location, pictographs were still visible on a section of rock face that had collapsed, leaving only broken fragments and a picture puzzle.

Stayed for 4 days, then moved on. Very relaxing and Pete loved all of it.

He gets excited when I'm driving and he even 'thinks' there are animals to see. Horses, cattle, goats, antelope, rabbits...he doesn't care, he just loves the 'looking'.