Sunday, April 29, 2018

Day 13- 99 Problems

FridayApril 27, 2018
Middle Fork of Gila River(52.2) Middle Fork Gila River(72.4) 20.2  Miles 231.9 total miles 

Middle Fork of the Gila River

Today was more of the same, the only difference is that I’m totally over this section. I was supposed to cross the river 85 times today, I actually crossed it 116 times. I might have lost track, but I figure my number is pretty accurate. I made a game out it. Every time that I crossed I would come up with a normal everyday problem. Here is an example: crossing number 10, I have ten problems and no lunch money is one. As the day dragged on my problems were all related to today. I have 70 problems and flesh ripping bushes are one. I have 86 problems and logs with pointy knots are one. I have 115 problems and this damn river is one. In olden times people used to get whipped to help keep law and order. The first few lashes didn’t do much damage, but after 30 a persons back was just flayed flesh. That is what these flesh shredding shrubs are doing to my legs. Due to the excessive amount of river crossings I can’t practically hike in my pants, nor can I avoid the flesh shredding shrubs. All I can do is grin and bare it. 

Razor sharp flesh shredding shrub

Another problem I had today was all of the flood debris blocking my way. It was exhausting hiking around and over downed trees. Some of the trees have branches that sheared off, leaving pointy knots sticking out. I had to be extra cautious that both legs cleared the knots or I would get ripped open. I didn’t always succeed. 

Other than these problems today wasn’t horrible. Last night was much warmer than it has been in a while. Instead of waking up to put on more layers, I woke up taking clothing off. I was determined to hike some miles today and knowing how slow going it has been I resolved to start hiking earlier no matter how cold it was. I got my socks dried out last night before going to bed. That was a huge mental boost. There is nothing worse than having to start your day wearing cold wet socks. I forced myself out of bed and packed up as quickly as I could. I was hiking by 7:15. Within 35 yards I had to cross the river. In the first hour alone I would repeat this 16 times. It is a good thing that this area is beautiful or I would have lost my mind and patience a long time ago. 

Early morning view

I was hoping to get in at least 16 miles today. I set my expectations really low. Based on how the first part of the day progressed I really didn’t expect to even hike that many. Luckily, I got some long stretches of decent trail in the afternoon. I was able to really stretch my legs and get into a rhythm. I also took less breaks than I normally do and I kept those breaks short. The only problem I didn’t have today was long water carries. Whenever I got thirsty I just dipped my bottle into the river and then added some bleach. It was easy and fast. I walked past a lot of cool little swimming holes. I could see how this would be a great weekend backpacking trip. I just didn’t have the time or the inclination to stop for a swim. 

Little grotto swimming hole 

One of the highlights of my day was hiking up a small waterfall. I’m not sure why it amused me so much. Probably because I was already having a difficult day and then that was added into the mix. The rocks were slicker than an ice skating rink and there were extremely deep pools mixed in. It took all of my concentration not to fall. I had one Looney Tunes movement where my legs and arms flailed about, but I managed to keep my balance. Another high point of the day was getting to eat my first non-melted Snickers bar. It really is all about the little victories in life. 

Small waterfalls 

My mood improved every time I had decent trail to walk on. I would get half a mile or so at a time. Those half miles were just long enough to keep me sane. I didn’t mind the river crossings as much today. I’ve really gotten good at spotting where the trail is supposed to go. I didn’t even look for cairns to tell me where to go. I just instinctively looked for evidence of another human being and tried to follow that path. I’m getting pretty good at this route finding game. I’m sure this new skill will continue to serve me well on this trail. 

Nice trail 

Usually when I’m struggling during difficult sections I’ll listen to some music or an audiobook. I didn’t have that option today for two reason: I didn’t want to waste battery on my cell phone and I had my phone put away securely most of the day. I just got a new phone and I’m not sure how long my battery pack will keep it fully charged. I’m on a 7 day stretch and I think if I’m listening to books, music, and using my gps app, I’ll run out of juice before I can charge it again. Even though I have it in a Lifeproof case, I was worried about slipping and falling in the water and my phone washing away. Usually I keep it in a pouch on my shoulder strap, but today o had it in my hip belt pocket. I learned after slipping yesterday to better secure my expensive electronics. 

New iPhone X takes some good pics

Last canyon of the day

I had planned on hiking until 6:30, but as the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up I thought it was going to rain. I didn’t want to deal with setting up in the rain so I called it a day. My ankle felt pretty good all day too. It really didn’t start bothering me until the last few miles, I decided with the threat of rain there was no sense in pushing myself harder and taking the chance of making it worse. Plus, I had already hiked more miles than expected. I still have almost 33 miles left of the Gila River alternate, but I’m almost done with the river crossing portion. I’ll be done with that in 5 more miles. Then I’ll spend a lot of miles walking on forest service roads. I’m excited to see what new challenge the CDT will throw my way tomorrow. 

"Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself."
- Walter Anderson


  1. Great quote today. Glad you’re almost finished with the river crossing.

  2. Yep, those logs look dangerous. The pictures of your surroundings are great. Up and onward, not any other choice. I’m glad your ankle isn’t any worse. I’m sure it’s a pretty area, but sounds like the river crossings are getting old. Great quote again.

  3. Your trail finding skills must be really good because I sure cannot see any trail in that photo you labeled 'nice trail'. :D

    1. I see a trail. Maybe you need glasses :D

    2. Definitely need glasses 👓
      That trail is clear as day