Gila Alt mile 29.7 to 47.3: 17.6 miles
Total miles: 216.1
The morning was predictably chilly, and I hoped that the first Gila River crossing of the day wouldn’t be waist deep. Fortunately, it wasn’t, and it was just my ankles and feet for the first few miles getting submerged in water. We found the trail easier today, and it felt like a video game or riddle. Choose the correct path, and be granted with easy passage on a soft dirt trail guiding you through the trees to a shallow crossing of the river. Choose the wrong path, and have to bush wack through scratchy brush and be forced to cross the Gila where it’s up to your shorts. We mostly chose right, but there was one short-soaking crossing. It’s so dry out here, things don’t stay wet for long.
After seven miles of river crossings, we popped out into Highway 15 and quickly covered the mile and a half on paved road to Doc Campbell’s post where we had resupply packages waiting for us. We had packed seven days of food for the next stretch, but realized we only needed six, so we had hot lunch with our extra dinners. Doc Campbell’s even had mini-cheeses I could add to my mac’n cheese to make it super cheesy. They also have homemade ice cream, and are very nice, so all and all it was a nice two hour break. There were six other hikers there, it’s been awhile since we’ve been amongst so many!
We took off on the road for a few miles, and then entered Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument where we rejoined with the Gila River, this time following the Middle Fork. This section of trail is supposedly more maintained than the last, and so far after the miles we did this afternoon in the canyon we agree. The crossings have been milder as well, and none have gone up last my knee.
We also read that the Middle Fork is beautiful, and once we enter we realized that is putting it mildly. It is breathtaking. We’ve seen a wide variety of birds, and we saw a family of javelinas (the animal pictured below). This area is also a reintroduction zone for the Mexican Grey Wolf, but we had no sightings of those.
We found a great sandy area for us to pitch our tent, surrounded by canyon walls and the sound of the Gila gently flowing by. It was hard to pass up, so we didn’t and made camp around 6:30pm. Eventually we will have to start hiking later, but right now we’re still getting our legs in. We’re also using an abundance of caution to protect myself and Piglet. Where on past hikes we felt comfortable pushing ourselves until we were tired; here we’re trying to use the slow and steady tact. So far, so good!