Daily Miles: 17
Total Miles: 1881
We had a nice and relaxing time in Gila Hot Springs yesterday afternoon. While the internet was very spotty, we did manage to buy our plane tickets back to Beardoh’s mom’s place after we finish. Just having the tickets purchased makes the end of this trip feel more real and more imminent.
Leaving Gila Hot Springs, there wasn’t a way to avoid a lot of time in the Gila River (unless we wanted a very long walk on pavement). We would have about 15 miles on the west fork of the river with many crossings back and forth.
So, we had two competing factors when we tried to decide when to start out this morning. On the one hand, we will be arriving in Silver City (our next trail town) on a Saturday and we will need to make it to the post office before they close at noon, so we need to hike enough miles in the next two days to ensure we can make it in time. On the other hand, it is cold in the mornings, and fording a river multiple times in the cold sounds painful. So, we decided we could push our start time to 8:00am and still get the 15 miles of river done today.
When we headed out, it was definitely still pretty nippy. We had about a mile and a half on the road before heading down to the river. Once we got to the river and forded it for the first time, we saw that the water was definitely cold, and up to SweetPea’s knees, but we figured it would be tolerable until we got some sun on us.
Our feet were a bit painful from the cold, but the trail started out really good and clear, so we could make good time. Eventually, after about an hour and a half, we started to get some sun and things started to warm up.
As the day went on, the trail became more sporadic, until eventually we gave up even trying to find the trail. We just kept trying to make forward progress, and sometimes we would wind up on a trail for a bit before it petered out.
By the time we were done with the Gila, we had crossed the river at least 60 times. Most of the crossings were at least to SweetPea’s knees. Thankfully, by the afternoon, the cool water felt refreshing.
Our poor new shoes got quite a shock for their first day. Our feet were constantly caked in mud, as we would get them wet in the river and then walk through deep sand or several inches of dust. In addition, we had tons of burrs and other pokey things attaching themselves to us all day.
By the time we finished up with the river, we were exhausted. We stopped to make dinner and then found some pools of water to do a final and thorough cleaning of our shoes. We decided to hike on so that we wouldn’t have to sleep down in the river valley, where it would inevitably be very cold. So, we started a climb up to a ridge. We didn’t go all the way to the top, but managed to find a reasonable hang shortly before it got dark. We were happpy to find our campsite for the night, as we were very ready to be laying in our hammocks.