ENTERING THE WONDERLAND
CDT Day 12: Mile 33.1 – 45.4 (Gila River alternative) (12.3 miles – 19.7 km)
Sunday April 28, 2019
From our campsite the river flow sounded like wind rustling through tree tops. We were a bit slow to get going this morning. It was so cold and putting on wet socks and shoes made all my extremities go numb. Folding down the metal tent poles was excruciating on my hands.
Most of this mornings hiking was in Allum Canyon. We knew that it would take a while for the sun to reach us. We soon had our first creek crossing. It was a pleasant surprise to find that the water was warmer then my feet. We only had 5 miles to reach Doc Campbells Post to pick up our resupply for the next section. At 135 miles, this next section of the hike is our longest in New Mexico.
We crossed the river another 12 times before reaching Highway 15 and I had still not warmed up. I never thought a road walk in sunshine would be so welcomed. The small settlement of Mimbres, where Doc Campbells Post located is set in a canyon whose walls were carved into huge towering hoodoos. These provide the backdrop to the settlement. What a lovely location, I liked it straight away.
We made it Doc Cambells about 9.30. I got a freshly brewed coffee which smelt wonderful and was exceptionally good. Hammer had a cold Coke. Great people at the store and being Sunday the most helpful junior crew was on hand to assist. An easy couple of hours passed sitting outside the store while our devices were recharging and we were grazing from the store. We got our resupply parcel, repacked everything and I caught up on the blog. After that I had about half an hour free to catch up on emails and other messages and a quick scan of news from home before we left this wonderful refuge.
About 2pm, all our gear had dried and we were recharged. So it was time to head back to the river for another 135 miles before reaching Pietown. From Mimbres, the Gila River splits into three forks. We were following the Middle Fork Gila River.
The sky was clear and it was pleasantly warm for the 4 mile road walk to get back to the river. We decided not to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings, which are a local attraction, as they were off trail and we’d already seen quite a few similar structures in Arizona and had visited Mesa Verde NP.
It was nice to be back on trail. We were both rested and in good spirits. Off the road and back on the river, it was good that the first river crossing was less then knee deep.
After the second river crossing we passed the hot springs which were right by the river. The pool was small and shallow and could only really fit two very good friends. It was easy to give this hot spring a miss. There was a hot spring back at the campground in town which may have been tempting had we stayed the night.
As we continued further upstream, the canyon walls, set against the clear blue sky, looked simply stunning, Layers of strata in the canyon walls were cut by the river. Huge boulders sat perched at incredible angles ready to tumble. It was one wow moment after another. The trail crisscrossed the river numerous times. Each of the crossings was relatively shallow without too much force in the flow. The water was very clear which made for pleasant crossings.
As were were deep in the canyon the setting sun cast shadows on the opposing cliff face. We found a campsite right by the river just before the sun left the canyon and it started to get cold.
We were two very happy campers, with fully loaded packs, excited to see what tomorrow brings.