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 Author: JE1947
PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:56 pm 




These are photos of our Middle Fork of the Gila River.

#1. Is of a Mimbréno grannery. It's on the Middle Fork, and not sure whether it is viewable from the river or not. Been awhile since I walked that stretch.

The grannery when it was first made, and used, was covered ... either with mud, and stone, to appear to be just a part of the rimrock, or, grasses, brush, etc.

It's probably big enough, if I recall, to fit into ... tight squeeze.
It had a "scoop" that was enough like a scoop that I saw in much larger size and form, in my Uncle's grain silo.
Same basic purpose.

For the Mimbréno, or perhaps, Apache, it was a way to save dried grains for another day.
It's important to envision how it must have felt to not only carve it out of the rock, but to go away, after filling, and return. Hopefully, if it was a
grannery made by Mimbrénos, others, more hostile, wouldn't have come down and broken into it.

At a place called Range Creek, Utah, which was once a large private ranch, turned over to the State of Utah, there are actually granneries high up above the cañon floor that are still SEALED.
To go away and expect a full grannery, and return, and find it pillaged, could be serious for those returning.
For us, we visited it several times ... can't recall if I was told about it ... no directions ... or shown. One person leading another.

#2. Is a different stretch of the Middle Fork, very volcanic rock. For those who know about WW II, the volcanic rock here is similar to the bitter landscape of Iwo Jima. This is lavitic rock that will break your knees, or elbows, and cut you, if you fall on it. It's nasty stuff.
There's a trail below. In 1998, on my first visit to the Gila, i knew nothing about New Mexico. I was told by some people there were some incredible pictographs up the Middle Fork, and given general directions. I got off the main trail and wound up in a cul de sac, below, where there was no more trail. I stepped over what I thought was a large stick. The stick was just there across the trail. As I returned the same way, it felt like I'd gotten snagged up ... and the stick, a snappy, whippy thing, with thorns on it, hung me up ... I stumbled forward. I thought, "Damn!" I looked back, and there was no stick. I felt a sharp kind of sting on my left inner ankle bone. I looked and saw what appeared to be two symmetrial fang marks.

"Did I just get bitten by a rattler?"

If so, I figured, I'm out here, alone ... the nearest place where people might be was the Lightfeather Hot Springs, half a mile away.

I sat and waited. Nothing. After awhile, I decided, well, I feel NOTHING. Must've been my imagination.
I started out again, head up river. I took my time, not sure what would happen.
Because I was taking my time, I stopped ... looked up found the large pictographs. They are all at least three feet tall. Bright red. Apache or Mimbréno I don't know.
The people staying next to me at Scorpion Campgrounds said: yep, looks like a snake bit.
Whatever. Striking on the ankle bone, there did not seem to be any way for the fangs, if so, to sink in. Or, perhaps there had been no venom injected. Either way, I saw the pictographs. Took my friend back later, who'd heard about them, but never seen them.
The lava slope shown here is one I've been up on. The fall will kill you. It was a place I visited a half dozen times over the years. The views of the Middle Fork are stupendous.

#3. The water here was taken where a beaver lodge and dam had been built into the bank of the river. I became familiar with river beaver in Ohio.
I filmed them on video many times. I found them to be fascinating. A long time ago, I watched and incredible PBS special ... NOVA, I think. It was titled, I believe, "A New England Pond." In all seasons. It had a score that included reprises of Aaron Copland's "Quiet Town," I believe. The experience ... watching this pond come to life in the early spring, with all the snow melting ... and the first signs of the beaver under and above water ... with that music of Copland I so love ... it was just etheral. I've never been the same since I saw it ... and watched it several times ... I filmed river and pond or lake beaver in Ohio in all seasons. In -20º and the summer ... under full moons ... at night, dusk (beaver are crepuscular animals but they do work in the day time if the river traffic is nil).

After a time, I knew where to catch them cruising. When they dive under the water, they create little waves, ripples. These are not those ripples, but they are quiet. I saw the beaver who made this dam. Beaver dams do lots of good work. The floods of the Gila in spring or summer, often wash the dams away. Or, they divert the water. Built strong enough, one can walk across them. Park yourself on top of a large beaver lodge, as I did more than once, at night, and you can HEAR them chirping and talking away. You can hear them slide in and out. In -20º, in a snowstorm, under a full moon, it was a sublime experience.

Watching them come out and swim with their heads above the water, at -20º was just an amazing thing.

Watching them in the Middle Fork, I recalled that the first American mountain men began showing up in the Gila around 1840-1850. James Ohio Pattie was a leader ... perhaps from Kentucky. The Apache were there, and watched them. If the men separated, they might be killed. Each Mountain Man carried one or two flint lock muskets; several pistols; several knives. They were tough. Very tough. The Apaches at first just watched. They watched them kill many beavers. It didn't take long to kill off the majority of the beaver in the Middle Fork. Some of the mountain men/trappers, were killed. Some turned on the Apaches. Eventually, the American Mountain Men got screwed by the Spanish authorities in Santa Fe. What the Spanish didn't take, the Apaches probably also filched.

After awhile, the American Mountain Men weren't seen as friends. They undoubtedly killed some Chiricahua Apaches. So, beaver coming back to our Gila River is part of the wild cycle. Listen to Aaron Copland. The music is evocative of peaceful, still surroundings. If one goes up to the Gila during the week, and walks ... with a "no talk" rule, and stop, you'll also see heron. And other animals. But the silence is deafening. Screw that up, diversionistas.

They may tell you they love to go out and hunt ... the silence is great. I'm not a hunter. I shot at people in Vietnam. They shot at me. Anything less seems kind of candy ass to me. Especially, when there are all kinds of aids now that give the hunter a supreme advantage over animals.

The silence of the Middle Fork ... what happens if we siphon off water down at the Gila-Cliff area? The river will change. There's no way it cannot change. Once changed, it's not the Gila we have right now.

#4. The Beaver dam that I found and refound. The river ripped the beaver dams up during flood stage. The beaver might relocate elsewhere. Or, move up river. I didn't see beaver dams immediately adjacent to the Cliff Dwellings visitor's center, but did see them farther down the Middle fork, where it's not as easy to just go down there and walk. I can't recall seeing beaver dams on the West Fork, but perhaps did. The West Fork gets wild pretty quickly, so the quieter and less traveled, the better. The East Fork, farther up, showed signs of beaver trying to bring down some large cottonwoods, and having done so with smaller trees.

Beaver dams fill in areas ... silt ... then early wetlands. The whole beaver system acts to clean the river water. But, seeing them ... umm. Quite a deal.
Quite a deal. I have them on video, but don't know that that video ever got transferred to DVD.

Apache knew everything along the rivers. The Gila is Bedonkohe Apache, Geronimo's group. A part of the Chiricahua Band. They were small, but truculent warriors. They lived up high. People say Geronimo was born near the present day cliff dwellings. Angie Debo said he said he was born near the "headwaters of the Gila River, near present day Clifton, Arizona." In 1829, Silver City, Pinos Altos, did not exist. The Santa Rita del Cobre mines did exist from 1804 on. Mangas Coloradas is thought to have been a Bedonkohe.

The silence they lived in ... wow. Until the Spanish came, with bells on oxen, donkeys, horses, sheep ... there were no artificial sounds.

Just silence. It was the standard. A few voices when Apache got together. Before them, the Mimbréno, and before them, Archaic peoples. the last two, walked. All these people walked from the Bering Straits. Down, down, down. "The Journey of Man," by Spencer Wells, states what I believe to be the scientific route we all took from Africa. DNATribes.com established my DNA tribal history for me. No Native American. A buttload of Semitic, though, including Iranian (Kuwaiti); North African; Iraqi; Turkish; Mediterranean (the Levant). Whoo.

All those people, walking. Walking. Walking in silence. In Vietnam, when running patrols in "the bush" we were not noisy. Noise got people killed.

When I returned from Vietnam, unbeknownst to me, i had serious PTSD. I didn't like to hike with people who made noise. It was unnerving.

Beaver don't make a hell of a lot of noise. Elk, bugling, are incredible to hear. I've seen bear, but way north, in Mora County. I've seen three mountain lions: two in the Gila Wilderness; one in the Mimbres. My FACEBOOK has loads of photos of this stuff.

If these photos help to say: hell no to diverting the Gila, that's good. I hope they help. The forces that are behind diversion are powerful. Political. The Gila can speak for itself only as it rolls. I'll find some more photos of Apacheria. Got plenty. I think of "A River Runs Through It," and the final words in the film: "I am haunted by water(s)." That's a paraphrase. There's real tragedy in that book. But the book and film define a father and two son's existence along rivers they fished. Well worth watching. For me, film is my fiction. I like to SEE what is happening, hear the dialogue, and especially, but rarely, in American films ... where there is some silence.

I think the Gila River can teach a lot of people about silence ... but they have to want to be taught.

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