Dragoon Waterfalls – Winter Journey – February 2018


Thursday February 15: Rain and wind all night here in the dispersed area outside Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. A couple windows are now leaking, so we redo the tarp to cover both the vent and the windows. Looks like we have a project to take care of when the weather is warm and dry.

Rain all night and much of the day in the Dragoon Mountains

I walk down the road, rather enjoying the rain, and down to the wash at the base of the mountain to a cool little spot that I call the Gnome Home.

Walkabout in the morning
Walking in the wash at the base of the mountain
Trail up the mountain
Gnome Home or portal to another universe

Or perhaps it is a portal to another universe! Later in the afternoon, another walk on a trail through a narrow meadow-like area takes me to a natural enclave, a grotto of sorts.

“The Grotto”
Yucca and manzanita in the rain

These hidden places are quite a delight to me.

Clifford prefers to stay in the camper working on his ham radio projects.

Cell service is weak here, but we do get messages and calls in and out. The evening is the usual routine, using only lanterns as there is not much solar power happening these days.

Friday February 16: Low and high temperatures: 50/56 degrees… hardly any variation all day long. There is fog in the morning and rain off and on all day.

Foggy morning

This morning is different, however, as we hear a sound we’ve not heard before and looking to the mountainside, we see numerous waterfalls, some of considerable size, dropping hundreds of feet down the rock face. So many waterfalls in the desert is quite an exciting event to see!

Waterfalls on the rock face of the Dragoon Mountains at Cochise Stronghold

Some of the waterfalls are large and powerful

Walkabouts in the morning and afternoon provide ample opportunities for photos, especially the waterfalls and little rivulets everywhere.

Little rivulets appear everywhere

Even the trail up the mountain where I walked yesterday is a running stream.

Yesterday’s trail is today’s running stream

I am more limited in my usual activities, other than the walkabouts, as there will be little laptop usage today. I write a couple short blogs, read a Dr. Oz magazine, play the viola, and practice Morse code.

We use only lanterns to light the camper for dinner, as well as the other evening activities.

Winter Journey – Stronghold & Tombstone – January 2017

Friday January 13th, since we are not going backpacking, we decide to go to Tombstone today. Right after breakfast, we leave our campground at Cochise Stronghold and head south. Tombstone is a lot of fun as we browse the shops and learn more of the history of the Old West. I bought a couple of skirts in one of the shops, a real splurge for me, but clothing that I will enjoy wearing. We had lunch at the Longhorn Saloon, as well as spending time in the Tombstone Epitaph, the local newspaper, and Clifford talked to the owner of the bookstore, a scholarly gentleman in his 80’s, the historian of Tombstone, who is largely responsible for its comeback as a viable town.

Stage coach on Tombstone main street
Covered wagon on Tombstone main street
The original bar from the Bird Cage Saloon and Theatre – one of few buildings that didn’t burn down at some time or another

We arrive back at camp at dusk. While Clifford naps, I edit for Ang (Novels of Shannon by Angela MacDonald, a really exciting epic fantasy/adventure series) and pick photos for the next blog.

Saturday January 14th is day 100 of our trip.

Color at dawn
Sunrise glow on east-facing slope – Dragoon Mountains

I make a cup of tea in the to-go cup and hike the interpretive trail, a short trail with many interpretive signs regarding the history of the area – the Native Americans who had lived here for centuries before the coming of the white man, and the ensuing hardships for those cultures when miners, hunters, settlers, and soldiers moved into the region. After breakfast, I make a thermos of coffee, pack up my laptop and the hotspot, and head up the nature trail, as at the high point, facing the open desert plain far below and away, I can get on the internet. I download files from Ang and take care of emails and texts. I sit on the bench, enjoying the view, while I talk to my daughter Becka. She is familiar with Joshua Tree, which is a destination we are considering.

Enjoying the views from the nature trail bench

In the afternoon Clifford goes over to the next drainage to set up his night-vision camera in a different spot and from there he looks down on a 15+ herd of javelinas. In doing some research on them, we learn they can be quite nasty and dangerous, and I think the Middle March Trail where we had considered backpacking is part of the same drainage where Clifford saw these beasts. Probably a good thing the backpacking was postponed.

Woodpecker that frequents the campsite

I make potato salad for our friends who will be coming to visit tomorrow. I had planned on a campfire this afternoon, but it has gotten too gusty and is starting to rain. I cover my wood pile, which is a good thing, because later a heavy rain moves in. I continue to edit until the laptop battery is dead. Between the shade and the clouds, I am not getting my laptop charged enough to keep up with things, let alone the awkwardness of having to go up the trail to get on the internet. Head to bed a bit earlier tonight, as my usual evening activity is photo editing and blog writing, which I can’t do tonight since the laptop still needs charging.

Sunday January 15th, the rain continues during the night and when I get up this morning, I go for a walk in the rain.

Walking in the rain
Walking in the rain in the Dragoon Mountains

No wood-gathering today, as everything is wet, but it is so refreshing to be outside. Get hold of our friends to see if they want to postpone our get-together on account of the rain, but no, they are all coming: Jimi, our camp host friend from last year is coming with her husband, Daniel, and another camper we met while we were here last here, Dan, is on his way. Dan is one of the most colorful and interesting fellows we have ever met.

Dan in the buffalo coat that he made

The rain lets up in the afternoon and I get a campfire going. Luckily, when Dan arrives with Alice, his ridgeback/red heeler, he has brought a good amount of dry wood with him. He also brought several buckets of KFC! Jimi and Daniel arrive with more food. Due to impending more rain, we leave the food inside Terry, but after filling up our plates, we all sit around the campfire, eating and enjoying great conversation.

The rain begins again, but by now the campfire is quite a warm blaze and we are quite comfortable as we sit around.

Impending rain in the Dragoon Mountains
Rain on the way

Before everyone leaves, Jimi and I go for a short hike on the nature trail to take photos of the manzanita whose reddish bark is even more striking when wet with rain.

Manzanita bush

What a fun day! What a great place. Too bad we have to leave tomorrow.

Winter Journey – Cochise Stronghold – January 2017

Monday January 9th, I am up before Clifford, but have no time to walk in the rocks.

Last morning view of City of Rocks

Once Clifford is up, I finish packing the inside while he does the outside. We discover, unfortunately, that our rear-view camera is no longer working. That is a real drag, as it is an important safely feature. Someone looking for a space pulls into ours as we are pulling out. Popular place!

Smooth travel most of the way, but the wind picks up from Wilcox, Arizona, on. Sure glad to get off the interstate onto highway 191 south, which takes us to the small community of Sunsites, where we stop at the post office to pick up a package waiting for us – a research instrument that Clifford had ordered. From there we drive on out to Cochise Stronghold. It is late afternoon by time we get to the Stronghold and we are fortunate to find an available spot in this very small campground. We get set up, happy to be here. This place has a very special ambiance.

Cochise Stronghold is a small canyon within the Dragoon Mountains with a creek flowing through it, partially underground, and a thick stand of oak trees providing a home for many birds and wild animals.

Gentle wildlife at our campsite (photo by Clifford)

Bear tracks in the sand in the dry creek bed near camp

In the very rugged mountains surrounding this natural sanctuary, the Apache chief, Cochise, kept his people hidden from soldiers who pursued them for several years.

Tuesday January 10th, I walk the nature trail twice this morning, once for photos and again to collect firewood and to use the cell phone to contact my girls. Cell phones don’t work well at the campsite, but are better up on the trail.

Dawn light on the cloud cover at Cochise Stronghold
Sunrise brings a golden glow to the mountain on the west side of the canyon

Jimi, the campground host whom we met here last year, comes out today to visit (she is not hosting here currently), as she and I became friends when we were before. We catch up on what’s new and have lunch at a campfire. So fun to see her again.

So fun to see Jimi again


Wednesday January 11th is errand day in Sunsites for us. Clifford has to take care of paypal issues for another instrument he has ordered. We first go to Marcia’s Garden, where Marcia makes and sells goat milk/essential oils soaps, lotions, creams, and salves. Besides browsing the delightful shop, it is fun is seeing the goats, who come right up to the fence to say hi. Then we go to a nearby friendly market for a few items. Nice to have this grocery store in a community as small as Sunsites. Clifford has taken care of his paypal business and we head back to camp, but too late to play cello outside, even though today would have been warm enough. The sun goes behind the mountains early here. Luckily, my laptop is charged enough that I can do some editing for Ang (Novels of Shannon epic fantasy/adventure series) and some photo editing for myself.

Thursday January 12th I hike beyond the nature trail this morning searching for firewood. I find some, but it sure is a long way back to camp with my load.

The morning light is irresistible to photograhers
Crossing the creek on my way to gathering wood for a campfire
Zen rockwork at the creek crossing on my way back to camp – I know it wasn’t there on my way up.

In the afternoon Clifford and I hike a mile up the Cochise Trail to the spring. On the way back, we detour on the Middle March Trail looking for a place where we might go backpacking. Even though we consider a short backpack outing while we are here, the fact is that there are more hours of darkness than light in the canyon, which is not ideal for backpacking, as it makes for a very long night.

Boulders lean against each other forming an almost secret view into a lush creek bottom
Crossing the creek on the Cochise Trail
Hiking with Clifford on the Cochise Trail
Resting at the spring on the Cochise Trail
Patterns on the rocks along the Cochise Trail
Hikers seen hiking in the rocks on the Cochise Trail

Back at camp, it is already too shady and cool in the campground for cello. Hmmm… sure haven’t been making this cello thing work out recently. Perfect for a campfire, however, so I sit out and treat myself to a second cup of coffee while I write in my journal. Later, after the campfire dies down, we have dinner and then I do some editing for Ang and write the next blog. A fine busy day at Cochise Stronghold.