06 April 2010

Spring Break in Arizona

1. The start of our Arizona spring break trip before it really started snowing, 2. Steve & Jula having breakfast, 3. Steve climbing at the West side of Cochise Stronghold, 4. Mia & Julia @ Saguara NP East, 5. Julia leading a 5.7, 6. Montezuma's Castle

What a week! A big snow snow storm hit Thursday night and continued all day on Friday. We picked up Julia from school and headed South on Friday afternoon. Of course, Raton Pass on the Colorado/ New Mexico border was closed. We bought some toys for Julia and a Rain-X wiper at the Walmart, in Trinidad, while we waited. Don't bother w/ Rain-X wipers. They're good only for throwing up in the air and shooting w/ a shotgun. I'm glad I only bought one. After a few hours, the pass briefly opened so we could sneak through. We stopped at Motel 6 in Raton exhausted from the stressful driving. At least I was exhausted. Then Julia got sick - and not just a little. It was good we were not camping out. I'd be the one outside with her when she was doing her duty from both ends in 15 deg weather and howling winds. Lucky we were, alright.

The drive South thru New Mexico was incredibly beautiful with all the snow in the junipers and pines. I've never seen so much snow at low elevations. I'm sure the cars decorating the roadside landscape didn't think it was pretty though. One accident closed down I-25 just North of Sante Fe. A half hour wait and we again pointed the juggernaut South toward nice weather and dry roads - which occurred at Albuquerque.

We arrived at Cochise Stronghold, in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, that evening. Yes, this was the hideout & eventual burial ground of Chief Cochise of the Chiricahua Apache. (Interesting history of Cochise here.) The location of his grave is a secret. The ones that buried him took this secret to their graves.

During our stay, Mia picked up Julia's sickness. The whole east side campsite, heard all about it. The next day was my turn.

Between climbing at the east and west sides of Cochise Stronghold, we camped deep in the Chihuahuan desert. Ten miles from Mexico and nothing around but Creosote bushes and Ocotillo. The sunset, stars and sunrise were spectacular. We hit Bisbee and Tombstone during this diversion also. The Queen Copper Mine Tour at Bisbee was worthwhile but the mining museum was even better. Driving North to the West side of the Stronghold, there was a town called Tombstone. Tombstone labels itself as "the town too tough to die" and is where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday,Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the Clantons and McLaurys on October 26, 1881. Indeed, gunshots echo throughout the town as you, and modern day gunslingers, walk the boardwalk. Re-enactments of this famous gunfight happen daily. Step right up!

The west side of the Stronghold was very remote. We saw few people and no climbers. The climbing at the Stronghold was good but we only grazed the flanks of this convoluted range. On this trip we only did sport routes but we'll be back for longer routes when Julia is older.

A couple days near Tucson finally gave us the warm weather we were hoping for. Tucson has great climbing & hiking. We did a bit of each. Driving back home we stopped at Montezuma's Castle. This was a neat place. Julia received a junior ranger badge from the ranger Mary White, who showed her how to make a God's Eye - like the Indian children of the past.

The full set of trip pictures are here!

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