I began the day with the usual repacking of all the gear on the bike. I don’t know why but it never seems to go the same way, all those little bags of stuff don’t seem to want to fit into the same space.
Once loaded I checked out of the motel and headed for breakfast at McDonalds, conveniently located just a few blocks away. After that it was gas up and get going.
The Buckhorn Saloon....
The Opera House stands empty....
The old Norton Store, circa late 1800's
This is one tough tree... Check out the bark on it.
It didn’t really matter as I was too busy gawking at everything and taking pictures.
The trail leading to the dwellings is easy to navigate
right up to the beginning of the stairway.
When I arrived at the top of the climb I was greeted by a sight that would fill anyone with wonder, pueblos dating to A.D. 1400. The park ranger at the entrance had told us they are nearly 100% original with only a slight amount of restoration having been done to either wood supports or masonry.
My timing turned out to be lucky as the party of hikers ahead of me were just leaving which meant I had the guide all to myself. As would be expected she was a wealth of information on the dwellings and the Mogollon people who had lived there. A fire was set and burned quite a lot of the structures in the 1800’s but there are documents that depict how the dwellings looked. No one knows for sure who the arsonists were, some accused the Apaches and others claimed settlers had been responsible.
The park service has built ladders you can climb to view the interiors of the homes and they encourage you to look but not touch. This policy helps preserve the texture of the masonry and original wooden supports.
It’s fun to try and imagine what it must have been like living there; everything had to be carried up including water from the stream at the base of the cliffs. The guide said the people gathered food from areas above and below the dwellings and during rain storms most likely collected water in jugs. She said she had been in the dwellings during hard driving rain and there were places where that would be possible.
The ceilings of the caves are blackened with the smoke from thousands of fires burned over hundreds of years. It must have been something to see.
I stayed far longer than what I’d anticipated and all too soon it was time to go. The walk back down was relatively easy but you still have to watch your step; there are lots of loose rocks and small patches of gravel that would be easy to lose your footing in.
The ride back to Silver City left me pooped and ready for a rest so I checked back into the motel, even got my same room back. This is neat as I know which outlets don’t work. The girl working the front desk vaguely remembered me and asked if anything was wrong when I arrived. I could have had fun with that but decided she might not get it. One of the questions she asked during the re-check in process was “How many in your party?” I responded “One. Just me. Same as yesterday.” Then she asked “How many adults?” You can see where this is going, right? OK, so I’m Mr. Nice, I let it pass and responded “Just one, me.” That pretty well satisfied her and the mandatory form she was filling out so I was admitted without further fan fare.
A quick trip to Walgreen’s to buy AAA batteries for my mouse and a stop at Burger King for dinner supplies completed the day’s ride. All told it was great and tomorrow for sure, it’s off again on the trail to Roswell and the Mother Ship.