Go tell it on the mountain

Yoo hoo … anybody home up there?

Here we go again, up into the high country where the gods hang their magic sombreros.

This time we’re in Pat O’B country, Cochise County, Arizona; specifically, the Dragoon Mountains, where the Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise bunkered up in the final years of his struggle against the white man in general and the U.S. Army in particular.

Ken Layne of Desert Oracle Radio takes us there, not by flying saucer, but in search of same. Climb aboard, and buckle up — there may be more than gold and the ghosts of Apache guerrilla fighters in them thar hills.

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13 Responses to “Go tell it on the mountain”

  1. Charley Says:

    A lot of area to explore. Easy to see why Cochise liked it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You can see company coming a long ways off from his stronghold, apparently, which is why he chose the spot.

      I can’t count the times I’ve driven past there en route to Tucson or wherever. But I’ve never stopped for a look-see. I even bicycled near there once, for the first piece I ever wrote for Adventure Cyclist, about the Southern Arizona Road Adventure.

      Hal, who read a great deal about Cochise in his misspent youth, is supposed to head down in that direction soon to collect a new burro from a rescue operation in the vicinity. I suggested he keep a weather eye out for the shades of Apache warriors and flying saucers.

  2. Pat O’Brien Says:

    We have hiked, camped, at bow hunted that area many times. The Stronghold camp ground shows you why Cochise went there. A couple of rifle men up in the rocks could defend the entire canyon. It’s a special place. Even now it’s a pretty remote area.


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ever seen any UFOs up to there? My man at Desert Oracle is something of a fiend on the topic. And there is something about the high lonesome that makes one susceptible to visions.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        No UFO, but one time while rough camping off the road about 2 miles before the campground, we woke up and went to use the camp toilet we had set up. We looked out of the pickup truck shell that we slept in and saw a large mountain lion stroll through our camp, including right past the toilet and under our camp table. We decided we didn’t need to go very bad and went back to sleep. We checked the tracks in the morning, and the local ranger stopped by camp for coffee as was his habit when we were there. He said there was a fresh lion kill, a coues white tail deer, right in front of his cabin about 1/2 mile from our camp.
        On colder days we would climb up into the rocks, sit in the sun, drink our coffee, and look out over the San Pedro river valley. Special times.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Those IFOs (Identified Furry Objects) are excitement enough, eh?

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          Exciting and special. When you bow hunt, you are really concerned about camouflage and scent. You are trying hard to blend in to the surroundings, reduce your scent, be very quiet, and stay constantly aware of wind direction. Plus you move very slowly while hunting, stopping, listening, and looking, sometime through binoculars, during frequent stops. I have had hummingbirds try to drink from my brightly colored arrow nocks and quail walking over my boots. And, I have seen mountain lions often. I would not be surprised if there is a lion or two in your area, even coming into the neighborhood late at night. I doubt if anyone has ever seen them there; that doesn’t mean they aren’t around. If there are deer around, there are probably lions around.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Herself saw one on our hillside near Weirdcliffe; I’m pretty sure I saw the tail of one disappear around a boulder up there. You really wanted to have your eyes open around our old shack on the hillside, because the two-legged animals were a distinct minority.

          Bobcats we have for sure here in the ’hood. We’ve seen them live and on wildlife cams. And I’m almost certain I saw a lion way up on a ridgeline above the Whitewash Trail, near the Piedra Lisa trailhead. It was quite a ways up and looked too big to be a bobcat. I have to start carrying a monocular or something, because my distance vision is for shit.

          You’d think all the human activity around there would make even a big cat nervous, but maybe if you’re a big enough cat, you don’t get nervous.

        • Hurben Says:

          Talking about Lions….


          My first fire base was several Kms down the road from Fort Doppies

        • khal spencer Says:

          I was cross country skiiing up in the Jemez one winter and had a bobcat walking down the trail towards me. So we both stopped. Looked at each other for a few tens of seconds it seemed. So I sidestepped off of the XC tracks a few feet. Cat looked at me, walked past, probably not more than twenty feet away, went on its way.

          Another time up there in BombTowne we were walking the dogs in one of the fields on N. Mesa and I saw a large animal galumping across the field a couple hundred yards away. Was definitely cat like, so likely a mountain lion. We held the dogs back and took a left turn to keep our distance. There is abundant mule deer up there so plenty of food. The mule deer used our street as a deer run between the canyons on either side of our development. Was fun to watch them coming and going every day like clockwork.

          I miss the critters. City has too many people, not enough critters. I always prefer the critters, having grown up out in the country.

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