The Gila’s Parting Gift

Day 15: May 8, 2019

Destination: Gila River Alternate Mile 80.8

Today’s Miles: 17.2

Start Location: Gila River Alternate Mile 63.6

Trip Miles: 253.0

It was quite cold this morning. I would say it was probably in the mid to upper 30s.

Some other hikers I spoke with today said their shoes and socks froze overnight. Fortunately, I did not have this happen!

I stayed in my quilt and made a coffee in the vestibule of my tent before making the break to change into my hiking clothes (e.g. take my thermal tights off and put wet socks on), and break down camp. Viper and I talked a bit about how hard it was to get started in the cold when we knew in 50 feet we would begin the first of many river crossings. But, today was the last day of the Gila, and I was looking forward to finishing the day with somewhat dry feet.

Snow Lake was about 15 miles away from my campsite. I figured I would do my best to belt out those miles, then walk a handful of miles more in an effort to let the heat from my feet dry my shoes and socks. That way, by the next day everything would be dry. It seemed like a good plan, and one that had me chipper enough to bound into the river in the cold.

I moved fast, trying to warm my bones. I hadn’t gone that far, though, when I came upon a huge group of deer. They were at the river drinking. One of them stood up on a rock, keeping watch, and she saw me. Nothing happened at first, so I moved in closer. Suddenly, they started to take off, bounding across the water and climbing up the steep canyon wall. There must have been fifteen of them. It was a sight to see!

I walked on and the day never really warmed up. It was mostly cloudy, and without the sun, i needed my rain jacket on all day. My legs felt chapped by the wind blowing my wet flesh dry. I passed a couple named Sunglasses and Scooby Snacks. They are from Maryland, and the guy (Sunglasses) was talking about how dry his legs are. ME TOO!!!

A cave along the Gila

I made sure to savor the last few bits of the Gila. It really has been a special gem on this trip so far. It’s so beautiful and full of life, and the canyon scenery is breathtaking.

When the Gila ended, I had a short climb up a hill, and then came out on a road with a view of Snow Lake’ the lake is gorgeous and is largely khaki grass land dotted with green pines. There was a bathroom kiosk and a water pump at the park, so I stopped to refuel and dump my trash in the park trash can. I saw Macro and The French Connection there. We chatted for a bit, but the wind was picking up and it seemed like bad weather was rolling in.

I hiked out with the French Connection, and about a mile in it began to rain. We stood there waiting under a tree trying to read the storm, but finally I bolted. I wanted to try to find a sheltered place to make camp. Then, the Gila decided to give me a parting gift. Worried that I might miss having wet feet, it rained harder. And then it hailed. And then it rained again.

I had decided to enter a canyon on trail to look for a place to hunker down. I finally pulled over where a side canyon came in. The spot wasn’t great, but it would do.

I’m lying in my tent now listening to wind and rain. It is supposed to get around freezing tonight, so my water filter is under my quilt. I’m happy to be dry now and in my warm stuff in my tent. I hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard tonight. It will be interesting to see how cold it gets. The howling wind tells me it is going to be quite cold tonight!

Snow Lake

I’m so glad I hiked the Gila Alternate. I’m going to be rolling into Pie Town on fumes. I need to hike some miles. I’m nodding off trying to finish this - that’s my cue that it’s bedtime!

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