Gila Cliff Dwellings and a Picnic

Alex, Carrie, Santouza and I took a picnic and went up to the Gila National Forest. Santouza got the seat of honor

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But she really hated the switchbacks and needed Alex to keep her company

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Alex lives in  Ohio so Carrie wanted to show him the Gila cliff dwellings, which were built by the Mogollan people on the outskirts of what is now the Gila wilderness.

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They’re about 150 feet off the canyon floor and, unlike many cliff dwellings in the Southwest, we could hike up a relatively easy trail to these cliffs and actually go inside these caves.

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Walk around the houses where people used to live

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Look out their windows

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See their artwork

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And the way they organized their living space

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It blows my mind that these stairs have survived the elements for 700 years

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Sidebar -If you’ve read Born to Run, this is also the area where Caballo Blanco was found dead. And even further incidentally, if you haven’t read this book because you aren’t a runner, you should read it anyway because it’s a fantastic adventure story – Unsidebar

The Mimbres River runs near here

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So we stopped near the river for a picnic

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in part of the dry river bed

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It’s such a beautiful area and that much more of a bummer that it’s all closed now because of the smoke from the giant Whitewater fire that wiped out thousands of acres in the Gila forest.

We took this trip about 2 weeks ago when the fire was much smaller so these pictures predate the fire and I don’t know what this area will look like when it reopens. I’m hopeful that the cliff dwellings will survive this fire, like they’ve survived everything else for the past several centuries, and that the river will once again be full of kids.

I raise my glass to all the fire fighters who’ve been fighting the New Mexico forest fires over the last month. Thank you.

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