After a few days camped near the southern end of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, and even a couple of visits by the Bayfield Bunch, there was time for a short visit with friends in Sierra Vista. We dragged the rig in there and spent a couple of days camping on the street and visiting, including meeting some more of the local park rangers. Of course we took advantage of the amenities and shopping in the city, having a dump and fill even though neither were really required.
Soon it was time to move on again, and we ended up returning to the National conservation area. Just off the main road through the area was the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog reintroduction site. I didn’t see any visible, so I’m not sure if the plan was successful or not.
A colony we found last year a few miles from this spot did not seem to be the black-tailed variety that is endangered.
The Empire Ranch headquarters, dating from the 1870’s was undergoing restoration and preservation, so the buildings were mostly off limits, but there are washrooms, a water tap and a short nature trail to visit.
In the past we had camped to the south of Sonoita near Parker Canyon Lake. With nothing planned one day, it seemed like a good time to re-visit the area.
It is a very scenic drive out, but what caught my eye was the huge smoke column billowing into the sky off to the north east.
It turns out that this was the Knob Hill Fire, that had just started and was burning in West Stronghold Canyon in the Dragoon mountains in Cochise county. Before being contained, it had grown to almost 3000 acres. It was thought to be human caused, and resulted in some evacuations in the area, but at last report no structures were lost and there were no injuries.
The road into Parker Canyon Lake is hard surfaced all the way, but is in fairly poor condition in spots. After a short look around the campground and the lake we ventured out onto the West Montezuma Canyon road. The dirt and gravel road leads eastward not far from the border, and eventually connects with Coronado National Memorial at Montezuma pass. We had traveled the road about 11 years ago in the opposite direction with the truck camper on and remembered it as being rather rough. The road was a bit on the gritty side at first, but gradually seemed to improve as we got closer to the border. Part of the reason seemed to be that the Border Patrol regularly drags the road there with a variety of equipment to enable them to more easily spot tracks related to border traffic.
In lots of border areas in Arizona and Texas, I was familiar with variations of tires being dragged along roadways and trails, but the setup below was quite high-tech, with multiple wheels and tires. At the rear, it drags a row of metal rods that leave a distinctive grooved track in the dust and gravel. I presume this makes it harder to remove footprints by simply sweeping with branches and brush without being more obvious about it.
Eventually we reached the parking lot and viewpoint at Montezuma pass. The wind was howling a the time, but the short hike up to the peak was in order.
The last time I visited here, there was a mobile border patrol camera truck sitting in the parking lot, keeping an eye on the nearby border. Now however, there is a permanent observation tower in place.
From the trail, the peak, and even the parking lot, there are great views into Mexico and in both directions along the border. The summit is more than a thousand feet above the valley bottom below.
To the west, it appears there is a vehicle barrier along the border, but to the east is massive fence.
Looking east. Looking west
In the ‘useless inventions’ department this week, I must tell you about this gadget that you didn’t know you needed – till you saw one in Walmart! Clearly, there is NOTHING else you could use to keep your cooler open. And, it’s a deal at $3.95! Watch for one in your Christmas stocking in December!
In case one needs a reminder why we come south in the winter, I present this comparison.
I found a lovely selection of flowers available in the outdoor section of Lowe’s in Sierra Vista.
Next is a photo I lifted from a friend’s facebook, (thanks Rob Moss) taken when he started to look for his truck, in Lake Louise where I recently lived for 15 years! No, it’s not one he drives every day, but still …
Yes, the skiing must be great (if you avoid the avalanches), but I think you’d be too tired to ski after all that shoveling!
Hailey says I should quit blogging and give her some cat food and more treats!