Middle Fork Gila River(72.4) to Forest Road 94(96.4) 24 miles Total miles: 255.9
No more River
I’ll have to finish this post later. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I’m running a fever. I’ve been laying in my sleeping bag and shivering for the last 2 hours. Let’s hope that it is nothing and I’m back to normal in the morning.
I’m feeling a little better this morning. I’m pretty sure I just have a cold. I’m not going to lie, last night was pretty rough. I didn’t sleep very well. I set my alarm for 8 am thinking that a couple extra hours of sleep would be beneficial. I was wide awake by 6:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. At least my fever was gone.
Let me tell you about my day yesterday. I woke up and it was cold. I forced myself out of my pants and puffy jacket and put on cold wet shoes. I only had 5 miles of the Gila River left, but I couldn’t risk hiking in my puffy. If I fell in the river and it got wet I’d be in trouble. I settled for hiking in my rain jacket to help keep warm. I managed to keep up a good pace and finished the last 5 miles of the Gila River in two hours.
Met some turkey hunters s on horseback
If only I had more trail like this to hike on
And just like that the river came to an end
The trail led me out of the canyon and into Snow Lake. It was a pretty lake. Better yet there were pit toilets, trash cans, and picnic tables. Unfortunately, the water pumps weren’t turned on yet and the lake water isn’t drinkable. I met a few more turkey hunters and they gave me a few bottles of ice cold water. I took the opportunity to throw away my trash and reorganize my pack. All said and done I was there for over an hour.
I really thought things would be better once I left the river, but it didn’t turn out that way. After leaving the lake I hiked through the same type of terrain that I’ve covered the last few days. The only difference was there was no river to cross, just a dry river bed. For the next 65 miles water will be an issue again. Thirty minutes after I left the lake a pretty good sized thunderstorm moved in. I got out my hiking umbrella just as it started to rain. Almost as soon as I attached the umbrella I had to scramble under a barbed wire fence. Ugh, nothing is ever easy out here. It would rain pretty heavily for a few minutes and stop. I would put away the umbrella, which involves me stopping to take off my pack and ten minutes later it would start to rain again. Hiking with the umbrella was nice because it kept me dry without having to put on my rain gear, which I quickly overheat in, but it is hard to hike through dense brush. I eventually hit open ground, but the wind picked up a lot. I gave up on the umbrella and dig out my rain jacket. With the wind I could hike and still stay cool in the jacket. I took a break at a pond, my last water source for the day, and gave the storm a chance to move past me. I was hiking about the same pace and direction as it.
Pond as seen from above
I had to make a big decision at the pond. I knew it was my last water source for the day, so I had to hike another 10 miles or so and dry camp with another 10 miles before water in the morning. How much water did I need? I decided I could make due with 3.tL if I drank a liter at the pond. As I added another 7.7 pounds to my back I made a steep 500 foot climb out of the canyon. I was rewarded with a pretty view and easy terrain for the remainder of the day.
Stormy sky and open terrain
Nothing but keep rounds for the next 14 miles
I enjoyed being out of the canyons
People describe the Gila River as a highlight of the trail. I’m not sure I feel the same. Maybe it is type 2 fun and I’ll look back on it fondly one day soon. I also have a sneaky suspicion that I’ve been fighting this cold for a few days and that it affected my energy levels and my mood.
I was ready to set up camp at 4 o’clock, but that was way too early and I was surrounded by storms. I pressed on thinking just one more mile. I played that game for many miles. By this time I knew I was sick and kept stopping every 30-45 minutes. I knew I needed to find a place to camp that was out of the wind. I finally saw a good spot in the distance. I thought it was about .5 miles away. It turned out to be about 2 miles. Oh, well. I was sheltered from the wind and that was all that mattered. I got my tent set up just as it started to rain again. I didn’t have the energy to cook dinner, but I forced myself to. I had used up an incredible amount of energy and my body was obviously fighting something off. I way over cooked my Mac and cheese. One of the worst trail meals I’ve ever eaten. The noodles turned into one nasty mash of pasta. I had on every article of clothing available and still shivered. I knew it was going to be a long night.
Final damage of the Gila River
I’m pretty proud of the fact that I finished this post while I was hiking. I got in 3 miles in the time it took to write this.
“Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
- Bruce Lee