Day 12: May 5, 2019
Destination: Doc Campbell’s Post, GRA Mile 37.9
Today’s Miles: 15.1
Start Location: Gila River Alternate Mile 22.8
Trip Miles: 211
It was another chilly morning. I woke up at 6, but went back to sleep for 30 minutes. I wanted to let it warm up a bit before starting, knowing I would be walking in water all day. I’ve been told we will walk through the river over 200 times before we complete this section! I made a coffee to warm up, and set about getting things packed. As I was finishing, I saw Viper on the other side of the river trying to figure out a good place to cross. He seemed happy to see me. It’s not a bad thing to have company for a day of river crossings, especially when you can’t be sure how deep or dodgy they might be!
We headed off together. I wish I could speak more French, but it’s also kind of fun helping him with conversational English. He picks it up pretty fast. I bet his English will improve a lot on this hike!
The morning was slow going. It’s definitely harder to cruise along when every little while you have to find the trail, or find a good place to cross the stream. We got into a rhythm though. At one point we were standing there and a woman hiked up from behind us. She introduced herself as Maps and said she was happy to run into us. She was looking for hikers to do the river crossings with, so our two-man band became Peter, Paul and Mary for a day.
We all hiked along and talked. I learned that Viper works in the IT world in France, and that Maps is a physicist in Colorado, working in renewable energies. I probably spent a good hour or more asking her questions about that world and geeking out.
The day went quickly. I managed to get one message from my wife that confirmed she hadn’t received anything from me. I was a little stressed about getting to Doc Campbell’s Post so that I could hop on WiFi and let her know I was ok. Doc Campbell’s was our goal for the day. It was only 15 miles, but 15 miles with river crossing after river crossing is really tough to do with any pace. The river is in a canyon, so we would walk on one side until the canyon wall closed in, and then we would have to cross to the other side until that walking area disappeared. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The cliff walls juxtaposed with the green of the canyon floor and the beauty of the river made for a day of magnificent scenery. It wasn’t a great day for my feet since they were wet all day, but they seem to be ok. Crossing the rivers sends a lot of small rocks and sand into my shoes; however, wearing gaiters definitely helps minimize the amount of debris that makes its way in. I was so glad that I wear them!When Viper took off his boots, about a pound of rocks fell out! No gaiters.... :-)
We took a break for lunch and then pushed the rest of the way to Doc Campbell’s post. We had to exit the canyon and walk about a mile down a road. I was disappointed to see that we had missed the opening hours. They closed at 5 and it was now 6:30. But, then the owner showed up and opened the store to give Viper and I the boxes we had shipped there! He was super nice and showed us the bathroom and shower area. I took a hot shower later. I didn’t have any soap, but I didn’t care - it felt great to rinse! If the Gila River is an oasis in the desert, then Doc Campbell’s is an oasis in an oasis!
Some of the other hikers staying at the post went down to a nearby hot spring at a campground. Viper and I walked down later, but were met by a guy who said that the other hikers were being booted out and that we had to actually camp there to use the hot spring. We had thought you could just pay separately to use it. So, Viper and I returned to the post. I had some mashed potatoes for dinner and decided I would open my resupply box tomorrow morning. I will sort that out and probably have some kind of snack from the post before heading out. I also want to re-tape my feet in the morning.
Today was a great day with beautiful views and some good company. I like hiking by myself, but every now and then a good social day is fun, especially on this trail! It was nice to hit the 200 mile mark today with others. I was super grateful to make contact with Gillian - now we just need to figure out why she is not getting my Garmin messages.
Time for sleep!