Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - I Climb as Though My Life Depends On It!
Saturday, 09 July 2011 11:11

July 5th was a day of rest for my friend Martha and for me. It was a time to reflect on our fun so far and to plan for the next day's adventure.

July 6th, we are driving up through Pinos Altos Highway 15, Martha commenting that it looks like we got through the 4th weekend without burning the town down and now we're on our way to the Gila National Monument. The locals call it PA, and we've had a quiet morning with a smoothie for breakfast. We've packed a lunch to eat before we begin our ascent. The highway is called the "Trail of the Mountain Spirits." We stop at the visitor center and I see that many of the same plants we have in Santa Fe were up there from 7 centuries ago: Indian Paintbrush, Yellow Columbine, Prickly Pear, Agave, Pinion, Juniper.

The area was grasslands. We start at the trailhead and about to climb up 180 arduous feet, craggy, and needing much effort because of a sore left leg and the need to use a cane. Each step I take, I hear myself say, "You can do it!" It becomes a challenge that defines my life at this time. Benches along the way are helpful to rest along the way. In some instances my friend, Martha, gives me an arm up. Over rocks winding up to the actual caves in which the Mogollon built their dwellings. Built with rock, mortar and timbers from trees cut between 1276 and 1287, by 1300 the Gila Cliff Dwellers moved on. They cultivated crops like corn and wild grapes. The life was more sedentary than their hunter/gatherer life, and natural resources became very scarce because of drought.

Inside the first cave, it is cool and gives us respite from the extreme heat of the day. Our volunteer guide, Beverly Townsend, explains that we will touch nothing. Even one fingerprint changes everything.

Come back soon to read more about the Gila Wilderness experience and my accomplishment of this challenging hike.

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