Back to Cow-ality
Gila River Alt. Mile: 78.4- 101.1 (22.7)
Total Hiked: 269 miles
Elevation Range: 7,370-8,490
“I’m runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream” – Tom Petty
Last night was a cold one, once again seeming to peak in coldness during the 3:00 – 6:00am time frame. Still, I was hoping to get back into the habit of early starts now that I won’t be stream crossing, and so I got myself packed up and ready to go for a 6:20am start. It appeared I was the first to leave camp from Snow Lake, probably because it’s foolish to start early when it’s this cold. What water I had left in my hydration tube/bladder was frozen, always an indicator.
Leaving the lake area was a gravel road walk. I was pretty excited to spot four elk out in the meadow! They seemed pretty spooked by me, but eventually watched me pass…
This is one of the reasons I try to get up for the early start, you’re the first to the wildlife… And are able to be hike as the sun hits the day.
I stand by all that. But have to admit, I was getting a bit frustrated this morning. I just couldn’t get warm with my chosen hiking attire. Normally when cold, I dun my rain pants and rain jacket with beanie and gloves. That usually does the trick. After an hour of freezing, I finally gave in and put on my puffy. Should’ve done right away, but usually it gets me all sweaty when I hike in it. Not this morning, I went through this canyon where it felt as though the sun may never reach me again. Pretty though.
Dramatic I may be, but my feelings are mine and I’m telling the story here 😉. Around 8:00am or so the sun got me and all was well with the world again.
Next issue was water though. I’m back in the lands where cows rules and I am but a visitor.
Turns out there was enough water to go around. I met Crockett at the cow pond and he told me a little about his time being a ridge runner at the southern section of the AT. As he was moving on, another hiker came and introduced himself as Hob (Hiking or Biking). We chatted a while as I had second breakfast (still pretty much going with two packets of oatmeal and my mocha grande supreme latte – a.k.a carnation instant breakfast and instant coffee). I learned Hob hiked the trail something like 36 years ago and at that time there wasn’t a trail through this area at all, you just found your way. Amazing stuff. There he goes up the trail…
It took me a while to filter with my new pre-filter bandana technique and filling up 3.25 liters. It was about 13 miles to the next source, so a bit of a carry. Just before I was setting out, Special K arrived, and then Wardrobe too. Special K said she saw either a super healthy and fat coyote or one of the Mexican Wolves we’ve been seeing signs about introducing back into this area.
It was a short, but steep uphill slog leaving the water to this view…
Then flat. I felt like it was the complete opposite of the Gila, instead of narrow canyon it was wide open plain, dry with no water. Back to reality.
It was a few miles cruising on this two track.
On the other side of the openness, when we entered into forest again, I caught up with Hob taking a break.
As we chit chatted he mentioned something about bike touring over 100,000 miles that got my attention and so I had to sit down and join to hear more.
Hob is one of these folks I meet on long trails that inspire me to do these things that may seem a bit out there, to live a little differently perhaps. He’s been on so many adventures. Some of the things I gleaned were that this is his 50th year having done long-distance hikes, he prefers bike touring though which he sometimes does with his wife on a custom built tandem bike (showed me the picture of it), has one of the oldest recorded trail names in the AT books, is a two time triple crowner, and enjoys when people actually stop and talk to one another on trail. After soaking in the stories and words of wisdom from this legend, I parted ways saying that I hope we meet again, I’m sure you have many more stories I’d like to hear. He responded with, “and some of them are even true!”
Hob the legend…
Going forward from this point, it was a gravel road walk the rest of the day. Some of it was quite pretty and interesting, but it was also a reminder to me of how much I love actual trail.
That’s Wardrobe up ahead. We did a little leap frogging part of the day.
This was intriguing to me… burned on the left, not on right.
I did manage to crush some miles today, but that was mainly due to lack of water. I struggled in the water department toward the end of the day. In the morning, when I left the big cow pond, I was counting on the source 13 miles ahead. Well, here it is…
The comments in Guthooks were all over the board. Some said you just had to flip a switch at the solar panel, others filled from the smaller tank, some climbed inside the big tank to get water. I walked around for a good while trying to figure out a way to get water from the larger tank, which was much cleaner looking, but didn’t see any way. So, I ended up booting the cows out of of their own tank and filling up my one emergency bottle that I hoped not to have to use. My plan was to look for sources ahead.
The road walk continued and the iffy water sources listed ahead on Guthooks ended up being even worse, just black mud puddles with cow hooves all around. So, I pushed a bit to get within a few miles of two decent potential sources I think will be good for tomorrow, and ended up filtering and then boiling the sketchy cow water. Ugh
End Game was hiking near me towards the end of the day, but continued on ahead when I decided to make camp . For still being on this gravel road, I managed to find a nice spot for my tent a way off…
Album of the Day
“Full Moon Fever” by Tom Petty