http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings: A Day at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
Cave Dwellings

Key West, 2005

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Day at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

  Before I go into our trip today, I have to tell you that last night I didn't fall asleep very well, so I spent a few moments peering out my bedroom window....hoping to catch a glimpse of the illusive burros. Our neighbor to the North has his camp area lit up like an airport runway, so I can see pretty well. I was rewarded by watching a Kit Fox scamper through right under my window..It was smaller than a Red Fox..and NOT red, so I checked what kind of fox they have and I think this one was a Kit Fox..at any rate, it made my evening..
  So now, on with our great adventure. We packed up some bottled water, maps, park passes, camera and GPS. We headed out to find the entrance to the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. We went through Ajo and, folllowing the directions , we turned up a side street and after about 1 mile our paved road ran out and we were on gravel. This road was pretty rough, but little did we know it was going to get a lot rougher.
 After bouncing around for about 5 miles, and thinking we were lost more than once, we came upon the entrance...

..They have strict rules that you call a given number and tell them your pass number, kind of vehicle, number in your party, and how long you will be in the park.  I looked at my cell and found that I had no bars...oops..Not to worry, Den's phone had 4 bars..I called the number on Den's phone and it wouldn't ring...no service from his phone either..Now you CANNOT enter the park without phoning first!! So we found a place to turn around and drove about 2 miles back the way we came and I tried again...WALLA! I got a recording and left our information..I must say it makes you a little unnerved when they say "Make sure you tell friends or family your plans...and remember..YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!!!"  ....OK, this is the real wilderness  now. Here is our road....

We knew it was 12.4 miles from the park entrance to Charlie Bell Pass..and then another hike of 1 1/2 miles to the desert floor . What we didn't know was that the road was going to get considerably worse...Here are 2 Saguaro we passed between....

  We were rewarded by some beautiful views..and a rarity here in the desert..This is a rare Cristate Saguaro Cactus..notice how the top fans out...

....and here is our road again...getting very rough...!!

..This road was worse than the Haul Road that we drove up to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska...It was like a washboard and jarred your teeth.. It took us 1 1/2 hours to go 12.4 miles...
We arrived at the end of the road ....and what a view.!!!! You looked down across the Growler Mountain Valley....

We were now embarking on a very steep hike down to the windmill and the desert floor...and believe me, it was very rocky and steep. Den kept telling me to be careful...If you hurt yourself out here there is no help!!
Here is our path down...

We finally saw the windmill up ahead..WE MADE IT!!!!! The windmill was a water supply....for what I do not know.....

We had heard that there are some awesome petroglyphs here on the rocks if you wander through a wash and up the other side, so we started exploring to see if we could find them. We wandered up the rocky mountainside and guess what we found????

...we were so excited we took a ton of photos...here are a couple....


...They don't have much info on who actually did these, but they were hunter-gatherers that were in this valley approximately 3000 years ago... They are scraped with rock on the black desert varnish..If you are interested, go to this link...
We were now sufficiently very pleased with this adventure so we headed back UP the 1/1/2 mile trail to the top and our truck...

Yes, this was quite a climb...But I had to have Den take my photo with these cute little cacti, called Teddy Bear Cholla....

 Of course there was no one within 14 miles to take our photo..there never is....so long armed Dennis shot this one....


I had a thought that scared me...I asked Den ,"What would you do if our truck was not at the top of the mountain where we left it?"...He didn't answer, which told me he had the same thought...We were very happy to see the old GMC was waiting patiently for our return...
 We had another great surprise on the way back down the road...We knew there were Pronghorn Antelope here on the reserve, but never gave a thought to seeing any...until.....

...What a nice treat at the end of our journey...
We got back into to our camper about 3PM..two very tired and excited explorers. It was on of the most remote places we have ever been in our lives..including Alaska....I took more photos than I could ever put on a blog, but I have them on my Kodak Easy Share...
....and now...for a shower and a cocktail....more tomorrow...

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