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Coronado
(March 22nd, 2008 - Huachuca Mountains, Southern Arizona)

This morning we drove south out of Tucson to Parker Canyon Lake, and managed to grab the last available spot in the campground during a busy Easter holiday weekend. My friend Gary has joined us for a couple of days. He will hike with us today and tomorrow as we visit the Mexican border and walk the first passage of the Arizona Trail through the Huachuca Mountains.

By early afternoon, we had driven the dirt road from Parker Canyon Lake to Montezuma Pass in the Coronado National Monument, and started the short hike south toward the border.

Already the Arizona Trail pleases! From the spine of this most southern ridge of the Huachucas, the views were stunning in most every direction, dominated by oak dotted grasslands and sky island mountain ranges rising up and marching off into the distance. I was especially intrigued looking south into Mexico and thinking about Coronado and his epic search for gold in 1540.

Looking into Mexico, contemplating Coronado

Looking into Mexico, contemplating Coronado

The fence at the border is a simple 4 or 5-strand barbed wire affair; ironically, there is a sizable hole in it where the trail ends. We gingerly stepped through the hole into Mexico for a few minutes and examined the ornate monument erected by the Mexican government.

Mexican border monument

Mexican border monument

On the walk back to the parking lot we took the time to follow a spur trail to the top of Coronado Peak, a side trip I highly recommend. The Park Service has placed a number of interpretive signs with information about the Coronado Expedition along this trail.

Gary treated us to a sumptuous car camp meal back at Parker Canyon Lake, and we sacked out early in anticipation of the long hike through the Huachucas the next day.

--Dave Baker

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