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March 11-13: Mesa to Safford, AZ via Gila Box

The sound started while we were exploring a narrow, rocky canyon this morning. Was it the wind playing in the canyon rocks overhead? Was it an animal or bird vocalizing? I turned on the Merlin app and just as it identified what we were listening to, I also realized what it was and began scanning the sky. There, high up above us, was a flock of maybe 200 sandhill cranes flying north. Now, as I write this at a shady picnic table near Roper Lake, the red winged blackbirds are vocalizing like crazy.

Dramatic sweeps of California poppy drapes themselves on mountain and hillside slopes.


To back up a little, we left Usery Park in Mesa early Saturday morning, having decided to take a southern route out of Arizona. We wanted to re-visit Gila Box, so we decided to spend the weekend. We drove south, back through Superior and Globe and arrived in Gila mid-afternoon. On our way, we saw some pretty beautiful areas of California poppies blooming their heads off.


Along with an abundance of wildflowers in bloom, the leaves on the cottonwood trees in the Gila Canyon were fully leafed-out and an impossible green.


We wondered if perhaps an alien space ship had come to take us away, as we walked under the eerie clouds on Saturday afternoon.


Our concerns that the small campground might be busy, given that it was a Saturday, were unfounded. There were maybe six sites taken. We ended up camping at the same site as last time. After pitching the tent in the wind, we went for a hike around the area. We were treated to another fantastic sunset before hittiing the hay.


The fiery sunset settled into pastel colors and then dramatic back-lit clouds before dark overtook us.


On Saturday night, we slept about TEN hours, not awakening until after 8:00 AM. On Sunday, we hiked the 3-mile trail that circles up and around the campground. We intended to try to hike up Bonita Canyon, but there was no easy way to do so.

Pretty flowers - I love not worrying about identifying plants and just simply enjoying them instead.


I have not altered any colors in these photos - this is just spring in Gila Box!


One of my favorite ever look-out shelters. We've never seen anyone else here. I could live here!


I noticed on a map something called Black Hills Rockhound Area, a BLM property, so we decided to spend Sunday afternoon looking around for fire agates. I'm pretty sure the thousands of folks before us looking for the same thing probably did a pretty good job finding the real treasures, but we did have fun looking around and picking up many little pieces of fire agate.

Hunting fire agates. Note that there are no photos of fire agates!


A planted I jokingly called "desert primrose" actually is desert primose, a night-blooming flower. We enjoyed seeing the primrose flowers close up in the morning, just as the poppy flowers began to unfurl for the day.


Some real purdy flowers near our campsite.


This morning we packed up relatively early and drove part way out of Gila Box, stopping to explore a canyon. In addition to the aforementioned sandhill cranes, we also heard verdin, phainopepla, rock wren and canyon wren. We also watched two male cardinals flitting around in the scrubby bushes. And we enjoyed looking at rocks and the cool landscape of the canyon.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how all these rock formations came about.


Some pretty flowers in the rocky canyon.


This afternoon, we arrived in Safford, where we are spending one night back at Roper Lake State Park. This is not a place that ranks high on our list of sites to re-visit but....it has electric hook-up for charging our car and hot showers.


Farewell, Gila Box. We hope to see you next year. Maybe we can spend three months there as campground hosts. : )


Tomorrow we start heading....gulp....home. We will take our time and will include a stop in LaFayette, GA, to spend a day with our friend, Terry. And then we will steer our car north, where I understand there is currently a nor'easter underway.



14 comentarios


Yesterday as I was eating breakfast in the semi dark, we lost power around 5 am, I could hear cracking noises outside. At one point I saw a good size branch on the white pine out front snap and fall to the ground. Out at 7 am I returned at 11:30 from my snow clearing duties. Some of that time was spent removing the snow blower, which couldn't throw the wet snow, from the tractor and replacing it with the plow. And then there was the shoveling, and more shoveling, plus cleaning the 10 X 20 circus type tent with a roof rake 3 or 4 times so it didn't collapse.


In the afternoon the generator was pressed into service…


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Tribal Scribal
Tribal Scribal
14 mar 2023

It's Beware the Ides of March back here. Soooo glad we got a generator 'cuz I've lost count of how many outages we've had since 3:45AM. Sadly, the trees are taking an awful beating. It's no doubt worse in the Berks. Are you sure you want to head home? It looks terribly inviting where you are but the show must go on! 😉


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glenayers
glenayers
15 mar 2023
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We're in New Mexico right now and could easily stick around for a few more weeks, if you wouldn't mind. We'll consider heading east if you can guarantee that the snow will be melted by the time we hit the Valley. I await your confirmation.

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Spring sure is arriving there with much beauty and enthusiasm! The photos are breathtaking and a visual treat....I can imagine adding the sounds and smells and textures (not the cacti!) What a wonderful spot for a several, or more, day visit.

I hope that by the time you arrive home the weather here is more hospitable. Snow predicted in the next 24 hours may reach a foot! Argh!

But there are 4 tiny purple striped crocus peeking up next to your stone walkway in front of your porch. So nice to see their sweet faces💚💜


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Contestando a

Gila Box looks like paradise, working there would not be work!


Robert's a huge help with the heavy work, much appreciated.

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jeffayers57
jeffayers57
13 mar 2023

How many pounds of rocks did Glen collect?

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Mary
Mary
14 mar 2023
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All tolled for the trip so far - under 20 lbs - with is very little compared to other trips!

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glenayers
glenayers
13 mar 2023

Gila Box Riparian NCA was a good replacement for the Mojave Desert Preserve, which was our favorite area 3 years ago, but this time around the Mojave just didn't work out. The camping fee at Gila Box was $5 per night, but we paid 1/2 price, since I have a Federal Lifetime Senior Pass, which so far has been the only benefit from getting old.

Here's my 3rd in the series of cactus defense overkill, this time it's the Devils Club Cholla (Grusonia sps.), which is short and somewhat petite, but has sharp thorns 2-3 inches long. They grow in patches, somewhat obscured by grass and other low growing vegetation, so you could easily miss them if you weren't payin…



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Mary
Mary
14 mar 2023
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I'm surprised neither of us has kicked one of these, given how close to the trails these devils lurk.

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