Friday, September 29

Today I was in two countries at one time! Hola, Mexico!

I woke up and made it to the VC at 8:00 in the morning. Andy met up with me. It was time to take the nice government Chevy Malibu over to Coronado National Memorial, two hours away. We packed up and set out! We had some fun conversations along the way, stopping in Bisbee to pick up food for the next day at Safeway. We then made it to Coronado National Memorial. Once I got out of the car, I noticed that my cell phone no longer thought I was in I had to super quickly turn it to airplane mode to prevent roaming charges.

We went inside and met Kim, the main interpretive ranger out there. She was friendly and let us know the plan for the day. She was going to take us up to scenic Montezuma Pass and explain the park a little bit more, we would have lunch, then we could do a variety of hikes that would eventually take us back to the VC. We learned that the mile long Yaqhi Trail took you to the actual border of the United States and Mexico. I wanted to do that one!

Before we took off, I had some time to browse around in the VC and learn some more. The memorial is to memorialize the conquest of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (please don't hold me to that exact spelling) to the United States way back in the 16th century. There is no specific memorial, the park area is just set aside for that purpose. We got to meet the LE ranger Eric, and I got to meet the Superintendent, Allen. Allen is the superintendent of all three parks in SEAZ. He seems really nice and cool.

We drove to the top of Montezuma Pass and enjoyed the beautiful view. We ate lunch, then took a short hike up Coronado Peak, and Kim told us facts about the park along the way. At the top of Coronado Peak, you get to see a vast expanse of Mexican land. You can see the border fence pretty well to the east, and to the west the terrain gets extreme enough that the fence turns into simple barbed wire. We took off down the trail. The Joe's Canyon Trail descends three miles back down to the VC, with the Yaqui Trail addition about a mile down. We hiked down the Yaqui Trail which descends 600 feet in a mile. When we got to the border, we saw the international boundary monument that the US set up along the border. The barbed wire fence right by the monument had been blatantly cut and stretched open, probably by visitors who want to "jump into Mexico." That's illegal, though, so I just put an arm and a leg through the fence, being able to say I was in two countries at one time! That was pretty awesome. 

We made it back down Joe's Canyon with a lot of scratches from the plants on my shins. We then went into our housing for the night, similar housing to what we have here at Chiricahua. I went to the girl's dorm, Quarter 1, where someone named Claire was living full-time. It felt a little odd letting myself in with all her stuff in various places. I set up in a vacant room, instantly took a shower (sweaty mess and scratches), realized I had forgotten a towel, and used my rain jacket. Afterward I introduced myself to Claire and she to me. She's a geology intern with Americorps, working primarily at Coronado. She was super friendly and outgoing! She's from Maryland, and went to school in Virginia. Andy came over after a little while and the three of us hung out, talking. It sounds like I'm the youngest intern here! She talked about how she was excited we came because she was excited to have company!

I got tired really early and went to sleep at 7:45 p.m. Coronado really took me by surprise by how absolutely beautiful it is, up in the Huachuca Mountains. Wonderful place!

P.S. I earned my second "I Hike For Health" pin for hiking a designated amount in the park. Chiricahua, I gotta get the rest of southern Arizona!

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