Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chiricahua National Monument, AZ

Wanting to continue our trek east to get closer to home, we return to Chiricahua (pron. Cheer-ee-CAH-wah) National Monument in southeast Arizona. We were first here as RV rookies only a few months into our new RV travelling lifestyle, and experienced our most difficult boondocking "night from hell". We are now much wiser and more experienced understanding better our and the trailer's capabilities.

It turns out there are a few campsites for big rigs like ours in the national forest adjacent to the park. There is even a very large camping area up Pinery Canyon Road about 7 miles from the highway where a large gathering is currently occurring - the Valentine's Rainbow Reunion - a group of about 50 pretty well-behaved hippies. Anyway, we manage to squeeze into this gorgeous little spot, under the ponderosa pines with a creek flowing right behind the trailer. I love falling asleep to that babbling brook sound. And Grady absolutely loves his walks here. Sometimes he just finds a sunny spot under the trees, rolls over onto his back and suns his belly for 10 minutes.
We drive further up Pinery Canyon Road in the Coronado National Forest. Near the peak, there is still some ice and slush on the road even though we have hit a heat wave here and the temps are over 60F during the day. This icy falls reminds us that it's still winter, and at this elevation (over 7,000 feet) we could be experiencing snow.
photo given a "surreal" effect to enhance the features - see Brad in the back?
There are only a few hikes in the park, and we can't remember which one we did during our previous visit. So we just select the one that isn't too long, or too short. Lo and behold, it's partly the same trail we did before! This is at the Grottoes on the Echo Canyon trail, the most popular trail in the park. Last time though, this is as far as we ventured before turning back since we were constrained by time. This year we have several days to explore, so we continue and do the entire loop, about 4 miles.
Marilyn on the Echo Canyon Trail. Some of these rock pinnacles are hundreds of feet high.
Brad on the Echo Canyon Trail. These are pretty cool rock formations; basalt from ancient volcanic activity.

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