CDT Day 10: Mile 5.1 – 17.1 (Gila River alternative) (12 miles – 19.2 km)

Friday April 26, 2019

Bear Creek campsite was absolutely beautiful spot to camp. In the forest by a creek with enough clearing in the trees to see the sky. This morning the sky was covered in small fluffy clouds. I sat in predawn silence enjoying my coffee and the most delicious natures Bakery Fig Bar. It was so peaceful, silent and still.

Can it get better then this?

We broke camp just after sunrise and for the next hour or so followed Bear Creek. Our feet stayed dry on the 6 crossings of the creek. There was evidence of old mining activity along the creek and of ATV adventurers. We passed an abandoned mine sluice and a falling down timber shack a bit further on.

Leaving Bear Creek we hiked on the banks of a dry creek bed before climbing out onto a plateau. Fantastic views of a rolling hills opened up in front of us. We stopped for breakfast at a rock with a view. Soft eroded mountain peaks stretchef out all the way to the horizon. The rocks appeared be volcanic. The pagoda like rock formations were spectacular. We wondered how come no one mentions such splendid views when they talk about the Gila Alternative.

Further along we stopped at a flowing stream to filter water and met Doug, a local man who has lived in these woods alone for the past 20 years. We finished filtering water and Doug took us up to his property and showed us his garden and conversation flowed. Four hours later we were still with Doug. It was the first time ever we’ve taken such a long break in the middle of the day while on trail. Doug was the most fascinating and interesting person we have met on trail. He was creative and very knowledgeable about a range of subjects. It felt like a privilege that he chose to share his time with us. He lived a solitary life but was not lonely. It was hard to say goodbye but our day of hiking was still there to be completed. I look forward to reading some of the texts that Doug recommended. My head was swirling with so many thoughts and ideas. My trail brain was kicked into gear.

It was a very hot afternoon walking through a tall pines forest with hardly any undergrowth but some decent hills we had to climb. It was hard work exposed to the afternoon sun. When we reached a shady spot near a natural spring it was absolutely heavenly to stop. My sweat soaked shirts was dried in an instant in this dry hot climate. The air was so dry that my throat was burning after the effort of the climb.

We climbed to around 8000 feet. The views of the surrounding peaks were quite something. Gently rolling green hills stretched into the distance as the late afternoon shadows lengthened. We had thoughts of camping on top of the ridge we climbed. But needing to get a bit more distance covered we moved on. The trail descended to a creek bed. We were in Goat Canyon which goes on for a few miles. I soon realised that at the pace we were moving, we were not likely to be out of the canyon by sunset. And as luck would have it, a flat campsite just appeared as the sun began to set over the top of the ridge.

And just as every day on trail, it is so good to be pleasantly exhausted and to get horizontal.

The beautiful chirping of a bird filled the canyon as the sun disappeared.

It had been a most unusual day for us. One we will not easily forget.