Daily Miles: 21
Total Miles: 1851
It got really cold over night. Not only did the temperatures drop, but a very cold wind picked up. We were both quite cold in our sleeping bags and had a hard time sleeping after 3:00am. By the time we got up, our water was frozen and our bodies felt like ice cubes too.
We had all layers on, including our rain gear this morning. So we each had two pants and three jackets on…and it still took us an hour or more to warm up. While we know that we will warm up as soon as the sun hits us, it still makes the mornings a challenge to be so cold.
Because of how cold the mornings have been, we decided that we would take an alternate off the alternate we are already on. We have been on the Gila River Alternate, which would have us crossing the Gila River (just ankle deep) about 100 times. We knew that with the cold of the mornings, there was no way our feet could handle the multiple cold crossings. We were bummed with this realization, since we had been looking forward to hiking the Middle Fork of the Gila River. We had hiked the West Fork two years ago when we were on the Grand Enchantment Trail and really found it stunning. But, we knew that the misery factor would be pretty high on the river at this time of year.
So, we decided to hike the Gila River High Water Alternate instead. This route is used by hikers in the springtime when the river is running too high to safely cross…and it is used by hikers in the fall when it gets too cold. It only crosses the Gila River at one point and for us today it was shallow enough that we could just rock hop across.
The trail we ended up on all day had good spots and bad spots. In general, a lot of the day was super dusty. The trail seems to be frequently used by horses and therefore it has been pulverized into several inches of fine dust. By the end of the day, we felt very dirty and our feet were black and with dirt.
At times, the trail was quite rocky and steep. Beardoh fell a couple times on the loose rocks, and it definitely made our feet sore by the end of the day.
At its best, the trail was covered in soft pine needles as we meandered through beautiful pine forests. There was very little undergrowth, so you could see quite a ways through the forest. We have been seeing a lot of bear prints lately, and today was no exception…we could see the prints of a bear on the trail for about half a mile.
We are both looking forward to getting to Doc Campbell’s tomorrow. It is too bad that we will be arriving on the one day each week that they are closed. We know we can still get our packages, and we are hopeful that we will still be able to buy some town food at the store.