Arizona

Chiricahua National Monument

Tuesday, March 13, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

The Hoodoos of Chiricahua Wilderness area with "Cochise Head" in the background. 

The Civilian Conservation Corps, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program to get men back to work during The Great Depression, was stationed in Chiricahua from 1934 to 1940 to make improvements to the park, including seventeen miles of hiking trails.  And it was time for me to take advantage of their hard work. 

I love to hike.  Always have. Always will.  I don’t need to go anywhere.  I just need to go.  And today I went from Massai Point to the Visitor Center, an eight mile trek – a bit ambitious for my first time out in months, but what the heck?  And my efforts paid off.  The trail took me through a variety of terrain: from quiet, shaded valleys to open plateaus and through The Heart of the Rocks, home to the park’s most unusual formations – Punch and Judy, Duck on a Rock, Kissing Rocks and Thor’s Hammer – before descending more than a thousand feet through Lower Rhyolite Canyon and back to the Visitor Center, proving the point that the best way to appreciate the park, nicknamed “The Wonderland of Rocks”, is by foot.

The oddly-shaped pinnacles that fill the higher regions were formed some twenty-seven million years ago by the Turkey Creek Volcano when eruptions melted ash particles into layers of grey rock called rhyolite.  Over the years, movement, weathering and erosion have worked cracks in the rock formations allowing the weaker material to be washed away leaving behind the gifts of the monument – the hoodoos.  As magnificent as the formations are, what I enjoyed the most about the hike was the peace and quiet.  The monument remains relatively unknown to most people in the US and I saw very few of them along the way. 

Four hours later I was back at the campsite, a little tired and worse for wear but euphoric from the experience,which is probably what I like the most about hiking – the natural high.  It’d been a great day, my favourite of the trip so far, and a nice way for me to end our time here in Chiricahua.  Sadly, tomorrow we’re off to Painted Rocks State Park near Gila Bend, Arizona, our final stop on this leg of the trip.    

Duck on a Rock in The Heart of Rocks, Chiricahua National Monument.

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