CDT Day 16: Mile 94 -105 (Gila River alternative) + CDT Mile 353 – 362 (20 miles – 32 km)

Thursday May 2, 2019

We slept out in a paddock by the roadside under a canopy of stars. In the morning everything was frozen so we waited for sunrise before breaking camp.

Just as we finished packing we could hear voices approaching. Three hikers passed on the road and stopped briefly. They are the first people we’ve seen on trail since the Jordan Hot Springs on Sunday. They’ve not seen anyone since Doc Campbells They were on a mission and quickly disappeared up the long road ahead.

It was so still and silent, the sky was clear, the air was cool but the warmth of the sun made it feel perfect. Great start to the next 11 miles of walking on a gravel road. We stopped at a cattle trough nearby to get some more water. It was full and did not look too bad. How quickly we are back to sharing water with cattle.

The road walk got a lot nicer once were entered a canyon. It was narrow and treelined and we were surprised to see a creek with reasonable water flowing, alongside the edge of the canyon. The water in the creek looked a lot nicer then the cattle trough. It wasn’t listed on any of our maps, not even as a drainage line.

The road gradually ascended and we were passed by a few Forestry Services vehicles. It was only when we got higher that the sound of chainsaws broke the silence of the day. As we approached the top of the hill, we were passing through a large forest burn area. Forestry services were carrying out hazard reduction by logging burnt trees. The top of the hill was also the end of the Gila River Alternative and we rejoined the CDT.

It was nice to see the CDT blazes on the trees again, even if the first one was melted on a burnt tree. It was a depressing couple of hours hiking through absolutely destroyed hillsides with only a few skeltons of trees standing. The descent was steep and slippery. The sky was overcast and a cold wind was blowing.

It was tough afternoon with a couple of steep ascents and descents. We realised that the ridgetop we were hiking on is over 8500 feet in elevation for a long way. We camped at the first suitable and sheltered spot. It’s at 8900 feet. I think its going to be another chilly night.