Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Gila

In A.D. 1200, Mogollon peoples began inhabiting caves just north of Silver City, New Mexico.  The Gila National Forest now houses and protects these dwellings and over 3.3 million acres of natural, undisturbed wilderness.  Today, Indian pictographs, pottery, weapons, sandals, corn cobs and architectural cave remains offer a peek into the secrets of the past.  

Since this all sounded very intriguing and like nothing we'd seen before, we  ventured on a Gila camping excursion.  The trip was much longer and windier than anticipated, which equated to two motion sick dogs and one very cranky wife.  After we finally arrived to the campsite and it was time to rest, squishing the pups into my mummy sleeping bag made quarters uncomfortably tight.  Then, the temperature dropped into the teens and  became so unbearably cold that we had to migrate from our tent to the car.

Luckily, good things were in store for the next day.  A few z's and a fresh mountain morning brought new light to darkness.  Beautiful surroundings came to life as we spotted rabbit, deer and turkey roaming freely throughout the park.  Our eyes grew wide at the sight of towering pines and an actual lake... in New Mexico.  Every bend offered  an intimate encounter with nature and a picturesque scene that I wanted to capture.

It felt ironic walking among the caves and former homes of a people from long ago.  These "dwellings" seemed uninhabitable and the surrounding mountain terrain, equally barren.  Just the night before, Kyle and I were at odds with the harsh, unforgiving elements of nature... and that was with clothes, sleeping bags, a tent, snacks, flashlights and heat from a motorized vehicle.  

The resilient Mogollons undoubtedly have us beat as hardy survivors.  As far as I'm concerned, they can keep that title.  That's as long as I can keep my hot, running water and king size bed (with mattress topper, of course).  No shame in knowing you like things cushy, right?  Not for me anyway.

Camping with the Whole Family

Deer X-ing

More Mule Deer

The Tent Put Together (All Thanks to Kyle)

Making Our Way to the Caves

Approaching the Dwellings

Up to 40 Different Rooms Filled the Caves

Our Incredible Guide, Sara, with Kyle

Passageway into Room

View from Crack in Dwelling Wall

Pictographs on Cave