Some of the most memorable trips seem to be those that are difficult to get to our destination. I guess that is why we appreciate the accomplishment and remember them more.

When Tracy was in the Air Force in California he came home for a little vacation. He brought a friend with him, and wanted to show Gil some of our beautiful mountains. We packed up the van with all of our camp equipment and all of the family that were at home. The group consisted of Mom and Dad, Tracy and Gil, Claudia and Anthony, and Jenene.We went up through Pacheco and Garcia and on through the Gavilan river at Las Amarillas. We went up over the north end of the blues and down to the Cebadilla Sawmill. This sawmill was owned by Emilio Burgos and it was located on his ranch just above Campo Bowman. We arrived at the sawmill late in the afternoon and visited with Emilio for a little while. He told us that he had opened a logging road down the Cebadilla canyon to the Gavilan River where it was quite open and beautiful. We decided to go down there and put up our camp. He offered to send down the riding animals the next morning. He is a very dear friend and a very generous and serviceable man.

It had been raining all afternoon and it was still raining a little as we started down the Cebadilla canyon. As the canyon narrowed the water was concentrated into a river running down the road. Everyone was hesitant about going on down that river especially when we encountered drop off places about ten to twelve inches high that were hidden by the muddy water. The canyon was so narrow that we couldn't turn around and we couldn't back up that far so there was nothing to do but continue on down the steep narrow canyon. The night was very dark and the rain was still falling. Suddenly in the headlights of the van we saw a huge boulder blocking the narrow canyon. Tracy, Gil, Jenene and I took off our boots and rolled up our pants and waded out to see what we could do about moving that big rock. We tried to roll it by all four of us pushing with all our strength but is was so big and heavy that we couldn't even move it a little. Tracy found and cut a Red Oak tree about 5 inches in diameter at the base. He trimmed it and cut off the top giving us a strong pole about 10ft. long. We collected some rocks to use as a Fulcrom on which to pry up the rock. We would secure a pry and raise the rock with three of us on the pole while Jenene would wedge a rock under the boulder. The bottom of the road at that point was solid rock which held the weight of the boulder so that it could not return to its original position. Gradually we rolled it down the canyon into a little opening on one side of the narrow canyon. We managed to squeeze the van by and continued down our flooding river. Soon the canyon began to open up and the water left the road and went into a creek on one side of the canyon. We suddenly saw in the lights of the van a beautiful camping spot among the tall Sabino trees with the dark flooding Gavilan River in the background.

First we put up the kitchen fly lit the gas lantern and built a fire. While the boys and Jenene and Claudia put up the Tents Mom and I fried the Hamburgers and made the Herb tea for a hot supper. My! How a good campfire can change the mood and brighten the whole world. After supper we gathered around our bright, blazing fire to visit and dry out our wet clothes.

Jenene walked over under the lantern and stepped on a big scorpion. She cried out when it stung her on her toe. She experienced a reaction and became short of breath and very pale. Mom packed her toe in our green medicine, that we always take with us, and sat her down and covered her up with a blanket. She calmed down very soon and the pain subsided. That green medicine is made with Aloe Vera, Plantain, Compfrey, Yellow Dock, and Marjoram. These plants are all cut fresh and blended together into a green paste that draws out the poison, takes away the pain and heals any kind of a wound or poisonous bite. The next morning Jenene put on her boot and rode all day long. Jenene complained that evening that her toe was itching so Mom packed her toe again in green medicine and that was the end of the scorpion Sting.

That night after supper we all went to bed content for having reached our camp and were lulled to sleep by the sound of the flooding water. It has been my experience that if you have good food and a good dry warm bed on camp then everything else turns out well.

The next morning after a breakfast of hot cakes, hash browns and scrambled eggs, the riding animals arrived and we all mounted up for the day's adventure. Emilio had told me about some big cave dwellings that were up the Gavilan where the Zorillo creek comes into the Gavilan. That was our excuse for that day's ride in that beautiful part of the mountains. As we crossed the flooding River I could see that Gil was terrified and clung tightly to the horn of the saddle and tried to raise his feet to avoid the swirling brown water. It was no use because the water got deeper and deeper until it was high upon his legs nearly over the seat of his saddle. This was great fun for the rest of us who were accustomed to swimming our horses in the lake and in the rivers. Claudia and Anthony were racing each other to see who could cross first. We all came out on the other side with our boots and pants wet to above the knees.  

We turned north up the river to seek out and explore the big cave dwelling.

Tracy and Gil turned west to parallel us and ride the breaks to see if they could see some Deer or Turkey for camp meat. Jenene led out north intent on finding the Dwelling. Anthony and Claudia continued with their games finding excuses to run among the trees and jump every fallen log they could find. Claudia was riding a little mule that we called Coyote. Who knows why he was named Coyote but he could jump the logs and give Anthony and his mount plenty of competition. Naoma and I rode along together enjoying each other and the ride and the scenery around us. Naoma has always had an appreciative eye for the beauties of nature. She has taught me through the years to enjoy sunsets, sunrises, clouds, and the beautiful scenes everywhere.

That was the time of year when the grass was green and the flowers were blooming everywhere different colors of yellow, red, blue, and different shades of purple could be seen in the waving grass. We drank it all in.

This ride was especially interesting because in that part of the river basin it opens up into a beautiful, protected little valley. As we rode along we could see the remains of the ancient terraces that were watered by the ravines that came down from the high ridge on the west. Anciently these ravines were also terraced clear to the top. Many of the terraces are still intact while others have been washed away leaving only faint indications of the rock walls that were once there. Even though the trees and bushes were growing in the terraces we could still imagine the fields of the ancient peoples that lived and loved and made this their home.

When we came to where the Zorillo canyon empties into the Gavilan river we began looking for the cave full of dwellings. We all searched the whole area wondering if we had missed the place where it was. Finally Jenene called, "I can see it, Dad". She had ridden up on a promontory point and was pointing to a high cliff behind us. We found a trail leading up the steep hill leading up to the cliff. Naoma was riding in front of me on the little blue mule. She picked her way steadily up the steep switchback trail avoiding the tree trunks that might bruise Naoma's knee. The trail grew

steeper as we neared the base of the cliff. Suddenly we came to the base of the cliff right in front of the dwelling. The cave was completely filled with two story rooms. The top story had mostly fallen down but the bottom rooms were still nearly complete. We all were interested in going in the doors and looking out of the windows. As I stooped down to enter the low keyhole door I wondered if the people made their doors so low because they were small of stature. Then I realized that these doors and all of the keyhole doors around the country were made for protection. I realized that an enemy could not possibly enter if the owner of the house was inside with a good club.

On the way back to camp the sun got quite hot so we decided to go for a swim. The river had gone down some and cleared up a little so the return crossing was easier. Above our camp the river ran swiftly around a bend and into a deep pool that was formed at the base of a cliff of smooth rock. On our side of the pool was a nice sandy beach making it ideal for swimming. Jenene, Tracy, Claudia and Anthony were soon going up above the bend in the river and coming swiftly down with the current into the pool. Gil after much urging decided to try coming down the swift current into the pool. He waded timidly out into the current and as it got deeper he decided to come back but the current caught him and bore him floundering down into the pool where Tracy jumped in and dragged him out. Tracy apologized telling him that we didn't know he didn't know how to swim. Tiring of walking up and swimming back down the current Anthony began diving off the higher limbs of a big willow tree that grew at the head of the pool. Tracy couldn't help but accept the challenge of his little brother.

Back at camp we unsaddled the animals and hobbled all of the horses and the blue mule because sometimes she would leave the country when turned loose. We put bells on the horses and turned them all down river to feed. After supper we all sat around the campfire content with our day's experience in this beautiful part of the Gavilan river basin.

The day to leave came all too soon and brought with it the work of breaking camp and getting everything rolled up and loaded into the van. That reminds me of the saying in Spanish," todo cabe en un Jarrito sabiendolo acomodar". Translation: Everything fits in a little Jug if you know how to fit it in.

We got it all in and left room for the people to ride comfortably. Naoma and I were left to drive the van up to the sawmill because all of the rest wanted to ride the animals up to the sawmill. As we drove out of our campsite into the mouth of the Cebadilla canyon we stopped to admire a log of a giant Sabino tree that had been too big and heavy to load onto the trucks. That log was about 6ft. in diameter and 20ft. long. The Sabino is a species of Cedar trees that grow straight and tall with the limbs growing straight out all around the trunk all the way up. The wood is beautiful and makes very good furniture.

As we drove up the Canyon we encountered the jump up ledges of the night we came down. The water had washed the dirt away leaving the bedrock and some shelves along the way. We did manage to get up over them with a little run to bounce up over them. The big boulder seemed even bigger in the light of day and our pole was still leaning against the cliff near the rock.

At the sawmill I asked Emilio about the Sabino log and the Sabino stumps we had seen and he said that he had been able to saw a few loads of beautiful Sabino lumber and sell it at a good price to a furniture company.

We thanked Emilio for a wonderful trip and loaded our group into the van and came along home. The roads were good at that time and we made it home in good time, about six hours.

We have never been back to that particular campsite on the Gavilan basin and it remains a wonderful memory of one of our family trips into our beloved Sierra Madre Mountains.

This is my version of that trip but if any of you who were there have it a little different version please write it and send it to me.