Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chico Shunie

Odometer 37747
Trip meter 0

Thursday January 2nd 2014

Mark called today and asked if I'd like to hike into Chico Shuni this morning.  Well-Yeah!
We drove out into the desert southeast of town and followed a BLM road out to the edge of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.  At the refuge there is a locked gate across the road and entry is restricted to Border Patrol and Refuge managers only. 

 Here is where the hiking part comes in.  We saddled up with our day packs and lots of water and ducked through the gate.  The road is very passable and made for an easy walk.

The former Native American village of Chico Shunie is mostly gone and what is left is melting into the desert.  This was the home of several families of the Hia-C'ed O'odham ("People of the Sand") who lived a fairly isolated existance well off the beaten track. 
We found an old corral that now is a repository for all sorts of old equipment.
I was able to recognize old axles, metal wash tubs, barrels, metal cans, bottles broken, and unbroken, pieces of stove and stove pipe, and that's just a small part of it.

The only building that is still standing was this 10'x 12' structure that had walls made out of what ever came to hand.  Part of the wall was plywood, some was corrugated metal,

 and large parts of it were large thorny Ocotillo branches!  The branches are not an uncommon material for fences in this area- but wall studs?

The area around the central corral is littered with the detritus of life in the desert many years ago.  I even spotted what used to be a red metal 4 wheeled wagon.
 There are still two hand dug wells near here that have water in them, 

This one had a piping system and a small holding tank that were connected to a gasoline driven pump at one time.
The story I heard was that Natives were chased out of this area when Congress created the Cabeza Prieta Refuge.  According to another blog I read, nearly every thing was left behind, clothing, spoons, bedding.  An exception was made for the Chief, who was allowed to live out his life here.  Chico Shunie's last resident -San Francisco Chico Shunie died May 15, 1999, and was buried just on the edge of the village.

Mark and I continued west down the road from Chico Shunie looking for an old mica mine.
A large tailing pile of white quartz surrounded this open pit mine
I checked the area for any precious metals that may have been left lying around, but had to be satisfied with a few shards of mica.
The weather was fabulous, the hike in and out was stimulating, and the company was excellent.  I had a lot of fun looking at the "rusty gold" left in the desert at Chico Shunie, by some long forgotten inhabitants.
We'll leave you with one last photo.
Desert beauty at it's best.

Your traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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