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.

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