CDT Day 12: Gila National Forest

Silver City to Gila Alternate mile 13: 20.5 miles

Total miles: 181.8

We managed not to get sucked into hanging around our comfortable hotel room and town, and made it out the door a little after 7am. I felt nauseous again this morning, but hoped it would pass. Unfortunately it didn’t, and all day I felt off. The hiking was wonderful though, so that made me feel a bit better, or at least kept my mind off of my stomach.

We started with a 7.5 mile alternate route out of town on Walnut Creek Road. We walked though neighborhoods for awhile, then the road changed to dirt road and entered the Gila National Forest. We saw on our map that we could take the Wagon Wheel trail to cut a corner of the road, but decided not to. Then we ran into a man who told us the trail in the woods we could see from the road would take us to the CDT. We debated again, and cut into the woods. We realized we weren’t on the Wagon Wheel trail, and that actually if we continued we’d go further out of our way, so we bushwhacked back to the road. All and all, we probably saved ourselves 5 minutes. Lesson learned, probably best not to take advice from a dude in a car. Luckily, we had maps!

Then we were on the Gila Alternate. Most hikers choose this route over the official CDT route through the Black Mountains, because water in the mountains is very scarce. Also, the Gila River is supposed to be beautiful, so most choose a beautiful river over dry mountains (although, we hear the mountains are pretty, too!).

The trail soon became a rough 4×4 road, and weaved up and down hills before finally dropping down to a creek, a sight for sore eyes after all the cow ponds we’ve seen. We ate lunch with Tenderfoot, Guide, and Twenty Two, all new hikers to us, and then started back into the woods.

We played leapfrog with Twenty Two for the rest of the afternoon, as we got off dirt roads and started on trail. The trail was rough, but marked with cairns, and wove through canyons and atop of hills. There were some legitimately steep climbs today, but fortunately none of them lasted too long.

We passed a “regis-tree” maintained by Doug, a self-proclaimed hermit that lives in the woods, but unfortunately we didn’t get to meet. By now the day was starting to wind down, and when we took a break by some flowing water I wished we could just stay there. We eked out another few miles, and made it to a top of a mountain surrounded by pine trees to camp. I ate some macaroni and cheese, then bundled into my sleeping bag as the night air brought a chill.

What brings warmth though is all of your wonderfully enthusiastic and supportive comments! While my posts go up 4x a week, I load them up when we’re in town to post at a later date, so I don’t get to read your comments until we get back into another town. I appreciate every one, and thanks for being as excited about our journey as we are!