CDT Day 13: Mile 45.4 – 58.8 (Gila River alternative) ( 13.4 miles -21.5 km)

Monday April 29, 2019

The thing I like about keeping a blog is that it forces me to reflect on the day and to replay it in my mind before the day ends. Some days so much happens that the afternoon can overlay the memory of the morning. Today was one of those days.

Happy chirping of numerous birds accompanied us for a late start to the day. We were camped under the walls of a pretty impressive canyon. As we moved further upstream we were in the most stunning and unreal canyon imaginable.

The soaring canyon walls reaching toward the sky, demanded attention. Huge hoodoos were carved into the canyon sides. At ground level lupins and delicate white violets begged not to be ignored. Scented soft herb like plants lined the path we walked releasing a wonderful aroma. Birdsong echoed like a a choir singing in a cathedral.

It felt like a wonderland where you want time to slow down so you can take it all in.

It was sensory overload. Endorphins or whatever other feel good chemicals were cursing through my body. I stopped every few minutes to take photos and expel another WOW. We truly were in a world on wonder.

What an amazing place to be. We walked with necks craning to take in the view. Every now and then turning back to see the walls from another angle. The eroded canyon tops felt like sentinels watching over us.

We were totally unprepared for how breathtaking this section of the trail was going to be. We crossed the river numerous times, each crossing about knee deep and without too much trouble.

We soon encountered a couple of hikers then 2 more then 6 more. Considering we’d not seen hikers on trail for days today we passed a dozen, all heading in the opposite direction. A big outdoor education group ( NOLS) were also camped at a large campsite we passed. We were approaching the Jordan Hot springs and it was only when we got to the springs that we realised that this hot spring is a destination for hikers coming out from Mimbres. We stopped at the spring. It was most beautiful water body, the water was clear and aquamarine and it was sensationally warm. This was an amazing spot to take a soak and get a bit of feeling back in our feet. It is no surprise that it is a hiking destination.

Sadly we had to leave as there was a lot more stunning canyon walking to do. We crossed the river at one point where dozens of large fish drifted in the current. The Middle Fork of the Gila River does not have a big volume so most of the crossings have been relatively easy, there was just a lot of them.

After lunch we walked past a spot with lots of lizards scurrying across a rocky path. Just as I was thinking what a surprise that we’ve seen so many lizards but no snakes, a rattle snake slithered across my path and coiled itself behind a rock, rattling. Yikes, someone told us they were still in hibernation. Time to stop gawking at the canyon walls and start paying more attention to the ground. Which we do anyhow as the trail is not always well defined. There was a lot of bush whacking and getting scratched today when crossing the river upstream or downstream of the trail trying to find the best spot to cross.

Time seem to slow a little bit in the afternoon. The canyon walls opened up and we passed a beautiful grassy green meadow. It would have been a great spot to camp but it was still too early for us to stop. After leaving the meadow I felt like we’d crossed through a time warp. Time slowed even more and we seem to be crossing the river almost continuously.

It felt like a hundred crossings just in the afternoon. While the canyon was still beautiful and constantly changing, I was a bit over the river crossings. I managed to keep the top half my hiking pants dry most of the day. It was the last few crossings which got deeper and I ended the day wet up to my hips. Hammer being taller dared a little bit better The sun had disappeared and the wind had picked up. It was getting cold, I was wet and we were keen to find a camp spot. It was not going be so easy as we first had to negotiate the tightest canyon we’d seen all day. The river was running in a series of cascading rapids through the narrow opening. No trail was discernable on either side. We climbed the granite walls of one side of the canyon to try and find a spot upstream of the rapids where we could cross. The river was deep but we had no choice, our last crossing before finding a campsite was also the deepest of the day. The wind had picked even more and it started to spot with rain. It was nice to find a flat spot and get the tent up and get inside. We are now warm and dry. It was a huge day, ot reflected in the distance we hiked.