Wednesday, December 19, 2007


We couldn't have had a more beautiful day for a hike yesterday: clear enough to see for MILES in all directions, all the way to Tucson, with bright sunshine and no wind - the kind of day winter dreams are made of.

Rosanna, Frank, Odel and I met at Fairbank, a "ghost town" now under the protection of the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area. We had a hike planned that would begin at Fairbank, include a geocache, some birding and, we hoped, a sighting of ruins of a Spanish fort built in the 1770's. Frank, recently trained as a docent for the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area and an Elderhostel birding guide, was our personal docent for the day.

Fairbank, now a cluster of protected buildings - some falling over, a few rennovated - was at the crux of the railroads that traversed southern Arizona, connecting Benson, Tucson, Tombstone... even Guaymas, Mexico. It was settled in the 1870's and finally "abandoned" (when the last residents were forced to move from the collapsing buildings) in the 1970's.

Lot's of history there: floods, a huge earthquake, train robbery. Interesting signs and maps interpret the area for visitors, and pointed us off in the direction of the cemetary (above).

Before we left, I set my GPS with the coordinates for a couple of geocaches that I hoped we could find along our hike. The first was not far from the cemetary and we didn't have to roam among the prickly desert flora very long before Odel spotted it. We traded Rosanna's pink collapsible drinking cup for a yellow plastic soldier who seems right at home in the history we'd been reading on the signs in Fairbank.

Then on we hiked, past ruins of a huge stamp mill that crushed the ore from the mines around Tombstone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - an endless, deafening, dusty roar. On a beautiful, clear, quiet day, just a few birds cheeping or a hawk screeching from time to time, it was very difficult to imagine!

I had coordinates for another, more remote, geocache, which I punched into the GPS when we reached the far end of the Fairbank loop trail. Here a big sign identified the locations of interest in all directions, including ruins of the Presidio of Santa Cruz de Terrenate, our next goal.

Terrenate was a Spanish fort, established along the San Pedro River in 1776 (that rings a bell... ah, same year as the American revolution!) and abandoned in 1780. The Spanish soldiers were no match for the Apache who were not interested in having their territory compromised.

At the sign pointing off towards Terrenate, we headed down a poorly marked trail and were soon bushwhacking along the banks of the San Pedro River, the GPS leading us in the direction of our next cache and the fort ruins. Unlike most of the times we have visited Cochise County, the San Pedro was running ABOVE ground today! We never managed to find a good crossing spot, so wandered to a place opposite where we imagined the ruins to be and ate our lunch in the warm sunshine.

It couldn't have been a more pleasant day, and I don't mind leaving the ruins of Terrenate (and the nearby geocache) to be explored another day... soon, I hope.

1 comment:

  1. "ate our lunch in the warm sunshine.
    did you hAVE PEANUT AND JELLY odel make the best one
    Barry and Jan