We got to the campground before 6pm. Unfortunately, our group was pretty much split up due to the layout of the campground and other campers that were already there. The good news was this was a nice campground with clean rest rooms. I pulled the tent from the top of the Jeep, and while it was wet, it would dry quickly. Three minutes later, the tent was set up and the rain fly on (it is a First Up tent that I recently purchased and goes up in under a minute and sleeps 6 -8). As I pulled off the Storm Duffels and handed them to Carol to set up the “beds” in the tent, she gave me the bad news. Weatherproof they were not and our sleeping bags and pillows were wet. Our blankets were in a protective plastic bag so they remained dry. Well, we made the best of it by blowing up the air mattress with my on-board air compressor and put the sleeping bags over the campfire we had made to try to dry them. They didn’t dry all that great but they were “mesquite smoked”. The sky looked like it was trying to clear and by now a bright full moon was showing itself.
After dinner our members were milling around and discussing the plans for tomorrow. Bamse was heading home, not wanting to take the chance of another break down on the dirt roads we were going to be on Sunday. For his safety and to make sure that he would get home okay, three other members volunteered to escort him back. The rest of us would head to Fort Bowie. The sky was looking better and we were hoping the 40% chance of rain for Sunday was not going to happen.
By now it was 4am and I woke up to a steady rain on the tent. I thought to myself, “Crap, it’s going to be another wet day” and went back to sleep. When I woke up again around 6am, there was nothing but the sound of birds outside. As I ventured forth, there was blue in the sky, and it looked like it would be a great day!
At 9am, the main group staged at the Chiricahua National Monument Visitors Center for the “assault” on the summit. As the line of Jeeps began the eight mile trip to the top, just about everyone stopped or slowed down at one time or another to take a picture or two. I have practiced for many years on how to keep one hand on the wheel, one eye on the road, and the other hand and eye on the camera. The views on this drive were stunning, the geology very unique, and everywhere you turned was a “Kodak Moment.” Around every turn were more spires and more balanced rocks, a virtual wonderland. As we neared the top the view over the valley to the east, the shadows of layers of mountains in the distance became the focus of everyone’s camera.