Gila, Bo Bila
Gila River Alt. Mile: 22.3-39.6 (17.3)
Total Hiked: 208.9 miles
Elevation Range: 5,200-5,650
Day 14 would be my first true day hiking the Gila River and my favorite scenery of the CDT thus far. It was another cold morning and I had strategized not to get up early since I’d be crossing the river right away. I took my time, had breakfast in bed, and set out from my camp around 7:30am.
I wanted to see if Fix It had made it down to the creek last night, so actually did a short bit of backtracking. En route though, I met another hiker and when I asked, she said she didn’t think he had gotten down. She’d camped there and hadn’t seen him. Knowing this, there wasn’t much I could do, so I started back towards the Gila with this new hiker. After a little chatting, we figured out we had met in 2019 on the PCT, although I think it was briefly and not even sure when or where.
As the two of us stood on the banks preparing to start our Gila River adventure, not wanting to get in the cold water yet, we made a plan to start hiking together since it was supposed to be tricky at times finding the trail and crossing the river has it’s hazards too. And so we did. We took the plunge across the river and I started out by leading us in the complete wrong direction to start. We found our groove pretty quick after that. Such a unique and beautiful place!
I only spotted 2 invasive plants (both Tamarisk aka salt cedar). I wanted to pull them up, but they were pretty hearty. But still, that’s amazing considering the rivers I worked on in Utah that were completely overwhelmed with them. It was lovely to see a healthy river system with Willows and Cottonwoods (some true giants!) and other natives…
I took so many river pictures today!
We didn’t see many other hikers today. I think it was just Marmot that we met, who’s been in this long-distance hiking scene for a while and was great to talk to.
Well, that was all just before 10:00am 😊. We ended up hiking the whole section together and had a blast finding our way, crossing the river countless times (I heard it’s something silly like 200 total crossings through this whole section which takes a few days, but the deepest today was mid-thigh on me, and the current was pretty gentle for the most part), soaking in the unique riparian scenery, being curious about the various plants, flowers, rocks, and birds, and taking many short breaks for pictures. Both of us were really digging it. We cruised pretty good and didn’t stop much except for photos and for a good sit for lunch.
I thought these white-barked trees were pretty neat. So big with branches reaching out so far…
I realized afterwards that I took a lot of the same shot, the river bending into a cliff, but hey, this next one has a boulder and a little riffle.
Some Alligator bark…
Here’s what a little pre-filtering through the bandana looks like after filtering with river water..
Since the crossings are so frequent, we don’t bother taking off shoes and socks, or rolling up pants, just head straight in. After the cold morning, once things warmed up nicely, it was quite refreshing actually. This is one of the big reasons that trail runners are popular among thru-hikers, that they drain out easily and dry fast as compared to a boot (but, boots probably wouldn’t allow thorns to come through the sole in the desert!)…
More cool trees…
And then, you still get some of this within a few of the longer and wider inside point bars…
Rare view from above when the trail went up a tad…
As we neared our goal of reaching Doc Campbell’s Post, we found a nice hot springs pool that I couldn’t pass up a quick sit in. Both the water temp. and the air temp. were quite toasty though, so just a quick dip.
Of course, I fell off the flat-ish rock I was balancing on.
Around this same time, we spotted a bird I thought was a Bald Eagle. Later someone would tell me it might’ve been a Mexican Blackhawk?
We arrived to Doc Campbell’s Post around 5:30pm after a short mile and half road walk.
At Doc’s, the super hikers were there as well as two guys I’d met before, Cash and Channy, and two new hikers, Cool Whip and Valkyrie. Valkyrie explained all the amazing things about this small store and hiker trash haven. They had closed earlier in the day, but then came back at 6pm to assist hikers with things. Pretty awesome people as far as I can tell!
When the store owners returned, I got my first resupply package that I’d created back in late March and which Super Strider Sheryl shipped to me. There were even a few extra goodies hiding inside. I couldn’t resist buying a root beer and Cheetos to snack on as well, got to get those healthy roots and the important orange-colored food groups in (and yes, I realize it looks like just a box full of candy, but I promise there’s at least a few other items I eat in there too(.
I was hoping my Darn Tough socks I’d ordered would be in, but not yet sadly. This made my decision easy to hang out the next morning rather than push onward. USPS was supposed to make their delivery around 11am or so.
The camping space was unfortunately full at Doc’s (they allow 6 folks to tent in the store’s backyard), so a few of us went across the road to the Gila Hot Springs Ranch. For $13 they had tenting, showers, charging, and good conversation with other hikers and Isabelle, one of the owners. For $5 more you could soak in a hot spring fed hot tub sort of deal, but I passed since getting in late and tired. While setting up my tent, I met Green Mountain Girrl. A few up us stayed up for a bit chatting underneath a pavilion, but not very late. I went to bet quite tired after a long day hiking the riv!
Once again, y’all are troopers if you made it through this whole post. Might be the longest post in history (hope all the pics didn’t have issues loading). 7 gold stars this time!