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San Pedro River Trail South

The San Pedro River

The San Pedro River is a northward flowing stream that has its origins in Mexico, not too far south of where we rode the river trail. Alan and I only live in Arizona in the winter, not during the summer monsoons. Therefore, our perspective is that it is merely a dusty, dry riverbed. However, this year we did find a little water.

To be sure, the future of this stream is in serious jeopardy. According to this article in azcentral,

Despite its federal protection, the San Pedro River still faces grave threats. Growing population increases demands on the thin waterway. Some parts of the river no longer flow perennially. Streamside plants struggle to hang on as the water dips deeper underground and animal species, particularly birds, face dramatic loss of habitat. 

“Groundwater pumping is depleting the aquifer that supports the river’s surface flow,” (Laura) Mackin said. (She is the bookstore manager at San Pedro House.) “Groundwater is the river’s lifeblood. One only needs to look at the Salt, Gila or Santa Cruz rivers to see what happens when this lifeblood is depleted.”
The San Pedro River Trail

The southbound trail originates off of AZ90, due east of Sierra Vista, Arizona. AllTrails states that it is a 10.7 mile point-to-point trail. Once again, we were accompanied by our 3 dogs, including our old lady, Leah. We only went about halfway.

There is no respite from the sun on this trail. Nevertheless, the weather was totally awesome and we were not hot. We definitely used sunscreen!

While this certainly wasn’t the most exciting or beautiful trail we have explored in this part of the country, it had its merits. It is easy to see where the San Pedro riverbed is, as one only has to spot the line of green trees that line the edge of the intermittent stream. As I mentioned previously, we managed to ride to the river and find a small pocket of water. The dogs were in it immediately, but there was no good access for the horses.

San Pedro River

My photos of the mountains in the distance do not accurately depict the view. Again, while the terrain is flat and rather consistent, it is a “total desert experience”! This would be a great ride to do a little training-on-the-trail, or get the bugs out of a mount that hasn’t been out for awhile.

Little Boquillas Ranch

Early on in the ride you will pass through the Little Boquillas Ranch. This is unquestionably the highlight of the ride as far as history or structures are concerned. The story of the ranch is really quite interesting…

Originally, the Mexican government granted the land to the family of Rafael Elias Gonzales in 1833. The Mexican settlers lived a properous life for about 15 years, until Apache raids forced the ranch to be abandoned. By the mid-1800’s, the land became part of the United States, although the US agreed to honor the previous land grants.

Apache raids continued to delay development of the area. However, the discovery of silver and copper in Tombstone and Bisbee in the last quarter of the century overrode the settler’s fear of the Indians. The Mexicans living along the only source of water in the area were soon overrun by white settlers seeking to make their fortunes.

In 1880, George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, and his business partner, George Hill Howard, purchased the Elias Land grant. Hearst ultimately bought out his business partner. Subsequently, Hearst started selling off parcels of land for townsites, railroads, farms and ranches. Things apparently got a little muddy after that, making it difficult to know who owned land and who didn’t…

After George died, his son and his widow petitioned to regain sole ownership of the entire land grant. Although the Land Grant Court ruled in their favor, the 30 other residents of the land disputed their claim. The case went to the Supreme Court which sadly affirmed the decision of the Land Grant Court. The final decision was not rendered until 1906. Only a few favored families were allowed to stay, while most of the residents were forced to leave.

The ranch raised livestock until early in the 1970’s. In 1986 the property was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. As we all know, you can camp on BLM land… but you can’t get a rig very far back there at this point! Note the really old gas pump in the upper left photo!

A little over a year ago I wrote about Fairbank Historic Townsite, a section of trail along the San Pedro River further north. These buildings were part of the Elias land grant I was describing above. They were acquired when the Hearst family reclaimed the properties originally sold by George Hearst. That ride is similar in many ways to the south trail.

On another note…

Can I just say I am already sick of wildfires and it is only April? Last week, I wrote about how Alan and I rode in the west Dragoons, only to have the news report later that night tell us that the area we just rode was on fire! About a month ago, I wrote about the fire that burned the property right next door. We are heading back to Colorado shortly, and even the Phoenix ABC news station is reporting about a wildfire burning south of our home in Colorado. (As of the post publication date, the fire is contained.)

The night before this blog posted, the news is all about a horrible wildfire burning north in Flagstaff. As of this writing, the Tunnel Wildfire has burned over 6000 acres. The Crooks fire is north of Phoenix. Many people and livestock have been evacuated. One gal shared video on MESA, showing her burned home but joyfully announcing that her horses were safe. Earlier in the day, she posted this on Facebook:

We made it out, when I was catching Pagosa I could feel the heat from the fire. Had to leave 4 horses in the arena💔, praying they’ll be ok. Firefighters were all over my property when they made us leave, they said they’d do their best to save the house, and would let the 4 horses left out if it looked bad. So grateful.

Kathy Oliver, originally posted on MESA

Here is a video of Sunny Parker, founder of Arizona Foothills 911, interviewing Shawn Gilleland, a firefighter. They talk about how to be prepared for a wildfire emergency, such as having an evacuation plan. Shawn discusses different scenarios that start wildfires, such as horse trailer chains dragging on the ground and sparking dry grass.

At the end of this interview, Sunny talks about ID MyHorse Emergency Information Tags. It was Sunny’s input that helped shape the current version of our emergency tags. It was input from the fire departments with whom she collaborates that prompted the reflective strips on our new tag version.

Also on the news recently, I heard about how climate change is creating more hurricanes and more flooding.

Are you prepared?

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