Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fort Bowie, Arizona

During our road trip to Los Angeles we stopped by at Fort Bowie in Arizona. This used to be one of the key links in the days of rail road and when the white European invaders were fighting the Native Americans in a bid to take possession of this continent-sized country. Getting to Fort Bowie involves a 1.5 mile walk through a open grassland surrounded by mountains and one has to ford couple of streams too. Paucity of time prevented us from getting to the actual fort but nevertheless we did about 0.5 miles on the trail and retraced our steps. Here are some pictures of Fort Bowie trail..

At the beginning of the Fort Bowie Trail

According to the official site of Fort Bowie National Historical Site, this was the location of immense military action and a location which commemorates the "bitter conflict between Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military - a lasting monument to the bravery and endurance of U.S. soldiers in paving the way for settlement and the taming of the western frontier. It provides insight into a "clash of cultures," a young nation in pursuit of "manifest destiny," and the hunter/gatherer society fighting to preserve its existence."

The site further states that this site was the center of military operations between the Native Americans and the European Settlers. Quite expectedly the ill-equipped and simple native americans couldn't stand for long against the well equipped and cunning European forces who forced them to surrender in 1886. Did the Europeans leave the surrendered Native Americans alone? No way, in a bid to further humiliate them and alienate them from their land, the Chiricahuas were banished from Arizona to Florida and Alabama.

If I were to inherit this kind of legacy of ruthless murder, plundering and displacement of natives to take over their land and natural wealth to build settlements, I would be totally ashamed of my history. But here this kind of practice of annihilating entire civilisations, cultures and tribes is celebrated and praised. No wonder these people didn't bat an eyelid while dropping the Atom bomb on Japan during WW II or battering up Iraq recently or supporting Islamic militancy in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world.

Anyway coming back to Fort Bowie and its serene nature friendly surroundings. Sited in the southeast corner of Arizona state, Fort Bowie's trails range from 4,550 to 5,250 ft asl, and hosts over 65 mammal, 30 reptile and 150 bird species in the area. The trail passes through tall hills and the vast plains are careted with bushes, shrubs and grasses. The entire national park area hosts 471 plant species including several uniquely different flowers, cacti etc. The highest point in the mountain range and national park is a mountain known as Helen's dome. This is a granite rock formation which was used as landmark by travellers during olden days to guide them to the fort.

The entire area is overrun by several streams which run during monsoon and dry up in the warm summer months. There are numerous boards which warn visitors not to go ahead if it is raining or if the road is flooded etc. Apparently when water flows it is quite dangerous.

The first stream which we crossed enroute Fort Bowie

Another stream crossing, there are boards advising people to turn back if these streams are flowing in full capacity

Beautiful flowering plants dot the trail

Arizona is the state of cacti and this is one of the unique varieties found here

Trail facade.... long way through the wilderness to Fort Bowie

Bright yellow flowers cheer the visitors soul

Another uniquely different cactus plant

A 100% dried up tree on the trail

Remains of old buildings along the fort bowie trail

Overview of the Fort Bowie Trail

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