In Bisbee: a hike in the Mule Mountains - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 10, 2021

In Bisbee: a hike in the Mule Mountains

After eight weeks in Tucson, it’s time to move on.  Even a bit past time, really - we haven’t spent this long in one town for three years now, ever since we were marking time in Portland waiting for our condo sale to go through.  It’s been a great place to hole up in the winter, but we’re both getting antsy.

Before we go though, let’s have a last look (for now anyway) at the casita we’ve been holed up in for the last four weeks.  One of the nicest Airbnb stays we’ve had anywhere.

The living room.
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The kitchen.
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The second bedroom.
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So the general plan here is that we’re embarking on a large, six week long horseshoe: west to Borrego Springs, north to Death Valley, and then back east and across southern Utah to Moab, our final base before heading north to Portland.  First though we’re going southeast a short ways, to Bisbee for a three night stay.

We load our folded bikes into the newly christened Raven and pile the rest of our kit around it, happy to see that everything still fits.  Better, in fact.  Having the bikes folded opens up a loot of nooks that bags can fit into.  I should have taken a photo of it loaded, but we’ll get plenty more chances in the weeks ahead.

We’re out at 10, and after a final chat with our hosts drive a few miles north to the Blue Willow for an outdoor breakfast.  We wish we’d found this place sooner.  They do a fine chorizo scramble, and I suspect their dinners are fair also.  We’ll plan on stopping by for seconds three days from now when we cross back through town on our way west.

A pause for a brief moment of meditation before diving in on that ham and cheese omelet.
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There’s great architectural diversity in Bisbee - a blend of shacks and well preserved historical structures from the town’s golden age.
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Our hike starts with a walk up eccentric Ok Street. At its end it deteriorates to dirt and rock before blending into a path into the hills.
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The Bisbee pi house, on Ok Street.
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Jen GrumbyIn Bisbee, a Great House of Pi!
Slice of rhubarb with a nice cup of chai?
Not the pie that you eat!
Pi's a number that's neat!
With so many digits you'll sigh!
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2 weeks ago
At the upper end of Ok Street.
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Into the hills. It’s a pretty high elevation hike: the base of the trail in Bisbee is at elevation 5,500’.
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The view south into Mexico. The horizontal black line splitting the basin is The Wall.
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We enjoyed an extended hillside chat with Mike, a very knowledgeable and informative local. He’s lived in Bisbee for 40 years, after moving down from Michigan as a young man. He’s lived in the same house the whole time, and paid $300 for it.
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It’s almost a two hour drive to Bisbee: east on US 10 to Benson, and then south on the 80 through Tombstone.  I’m happy to see that it’s a comfortable, relaxing vehicle to drive, and probably more so than the Jetta once I’m fully used to it.  While I drive, the navigator continues familiarizing herself with Raven’s impressive array of electronic gadgetry.

If you’ve ever been to Bisbee, you already know what a unique and interesting town it is with its historic center filled with fine and not so fine but interesting structures built in the boom era after one of the largest copper deposits in the world was discovered here.  It has an exceptional history; and even though we’ve been here three times now I’m still amazed to relearn that in the early 1900’s 20,000 people lived here and it was the largest city between Saint Louis and San Francisco.  We’ve been here twice before on one night stays, and this is the first time we’ll have stayed around long enough for a slower look around town.  

We arrive at our new home for the next three days at about one, schlep our belongings upstairs to our apartment, and then set off on a hike up into the hills behind Bisbee.  There are several trails that crisscross these hills, and they all look like they’d make a fine walk.  The one we chose follows a shallow stream bed up to the top of a ridge, giving us inspiring views south into Mexico and east to the Chiracahuas and beyond.

Partway up the climb we catch up with Mike, a solo walker who I suspect has been walking slowly waiting for us to catch up to him.  He’s an open, appealing character with a wealth of information to offer.  He works at the visitors center down in town, and it shows.  He has a home down in these hills that he’s lived in for forty years, and it sounds like he spends most evenings walking them.

Another view south toward Mexico.
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In the Mule Mountains.
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Looking east across Sulfur Spring Basin to the Chiracahuas.
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A look across the mines south of Bisbee and beyond to Mexico. Again, the black scar in the center is The Wall.
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Another view east to the Chiracahuas.
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Heading back to town. We’re in a bit of a hurry, as it’s getting late in the day and the sun will go down quickly surrounded by these hills.
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Back on Ok Street, an unusual choice for fencing materials: rusty bed frames and other junk.
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There just has to be a good story here.
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Bisbee is long on color.
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A side view of the pi house.
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Resourceful! I knew we should have held on to the license plate from the Jetta.
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Jen GrumbyLove your chosen name for the new 4-wheeler. Raven!

How did you decide on this?

Is there a story that I missed?
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2 weeks ago