Tuesday, March 10, 2009

THROUGH THE APACHE PASS TO HISTORIC FORT BOWIE

FORT BOWIE'S HORSE & STABLE AREA

A bit of cloud cover this morning but by 9 a.m. it had given way to a big bright sun filled Arizona day. Kelly had a Yoga class this morning scheduled for 10:30 but decided to cancel it because I was whining so much about having to sit around doing nothing for another day. By 9:30 I was happily in the car & we were headed north up Sulphur Springs Valley to Apache Pass & Fort Bowie. Ya know guys, sometimes whining really helps:))FORT BOWIE'S CEMETRY

It's about an hours drive from Elfrida & after we turned east off highway 181 the road changed to a red clay made soft by the rain a couple days ago. Hadn't been graded yet & a bit rough in spots but no problem for the Santa Fe. To reach Fort Bowie we had to go through the historic Apache Pass. What a beautiful place this is. Stopped at the spot where a massacre had taken place when a band of Apache Indians had ambushed a wagon train on the old Butterfield Stage route. Check our web album for details & pictures.
http://picasaweb.google.com/stargeezerguy/ The Pass led down a winding dirt road to a parking lot trail head & it was from here that we began our scenic hike along an easy trail for one & a half miles to Fort Bowie. This is a totally beautiful area of hills, canyons, plains, grasslands, & towering mountain ranges. Arizona is a fascinating place & around every corner is a new adventure.
KELLY LOOKS DOWN AT THE APACHE SPRINGS
We left the parking lot on foot & hit the trail about 11. It would be about 5 hours before we would made it back to the car again. The trail to the fort is rich in history. The Fort Bowie Cemetery, the ruins of the Apache Pass Stage Station, site of the Battle of Apache Pass, & Apache Springs which was the focal point for hundreds of years for people moving through the area needing water. It is this very spot where the whole history of the area revolves. Cochise drank water here, Geronimo drank water here. The spring is alive with the ghosts of countless parched & dusty travelers. All these points are along the trail & at the Apache Pass Stage Station you can see where Cochise met with the American Calvary's 2nd Lt George Bascom & where an ensuing battle took place. Further up the trail is the site where the Apache's attacked the rear of a wagon train & another major battle took place. All these historic sites are clearly marked with reader boards so I photographed each reader board & then took a picture beside it of the area the reader board was describing. This is one of the things that made this hike the best one we've been on so far because everything is so clearly marked. I hesitate to tell you how many photos I took to-day but if you go to our web albums you will see all the things I have described. This is truly a great hike & if your into old west history I recommend you walk this trail from the parking lot north of the fort.
STONE WALL RUINS OF THE ORIGINAL FORT BOWIE
After Apache Springs it's a short distance to the ruins of the first Fort Bowie so we took a side trail & hiked up the hill. Many old stone foundations & the 2nd Fort Bowie is about three quarters of a mile beyond. The photos of the reader boards tell the stories of why the Fort was first built here & why it was later decided to move it's location. We moved on from the old ruins & ghosts to the 2nd Fort Bowie. It was far bigger than I had imagined & we spent an hour just walking around looking at what's left of the Fort. Foundations & sections of walls that have been sealed to prevent further deterioration. All the ruins are clearly marked so you don't have to guess what things are. The surrounding hillsides & mountains form a perfect backdrop to the old legendary ruins. Geronimo once walked these grounds. He was brought here after his surrender in Skeleton Canyon to the south & there is a photograph of him on the parade ground talking to his people. Many soldiers were stationed here & I'm sure their ghosts still roam the ruins. A DOOR LEADS INTO THE CALVARY'S BARRACKS AT THE SECOND FORT BOWIE


We stopped into the visitor's center/ranger station for a brief rest before starting the long trek back to the car on a different trail. The return path starts behind the visitors center & is a steep rocky climb up to a summit point that overlooks the Fort below. Beautiful views in all directions from up there. We stopped at a bench beside a bronze plaque & had our last look back on the Fort far below. I always feel sad at times like that because I know it's not likely I will ever pass that way again. From this point we stayed on the ridge trail & headed down from the summit via a bunch of switch backs. We were beginning to tire by this point because we had been on the trail for over 4 hours. Took us about 40 minutes to finally reach the parking lot & our car. As usual the last 2 or 3 hundred yards were the toughest. Flopped into the soft Santa Fe seats, unwrapped our peanut butter sandwiches, poured the thermos coffee, cranked up the car & headed for home.
ALL THAT'S LEFT OF THE COMMANDING OFFICERS STATELY HOUSE
What a great day this turned out to be & I think it was the best hike we have had so far on our trip. The scenery was spectacular & the history just reaches out & grabs you every step of the way. This was my favorite kind of day & to-night as I sit here typing this my legs are so sore I just might have to trade them in for new ones, but no matter, what a great day, what a great day. And it all started out with a little whining..................................:)) A LAST LOOK BACK AT FORT BOWIE BELOW

2 comments:

  1. Al. you did an incredibly nice job assembling it altogether, making it very easy to relate your photos to the ones on the signs.

    the hermit

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  2. Reading your Blog tonight made me feel really warm inside. Its so inspriring to see someone's doing it right! Continue the whining its agreeing with you. Miss you.
    dpl

    ReplyDelete