5/8, Day 12, 18 miles
Started the day camped at a forest service camp at the bridge over Gila River at Gila Hotsprings. Our shoes had frozen the night before. We finally got them thawed enough to road walk 2 miles to Doc Campbells, a small store. Problem was that it didn’t open for 2 hours. After peeking through the windows we deecided it wasn’t worth the wait.
We road walked 3.5 miles to Gila Visitor Center, then took a side trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings. Interesting. One woman was terrified at the cliff dwellings (heights) and I thought how sad to let fear limit our lives. Maybe that’s why I hike. However, we are down in the canyons instead of on the divide. Because the divide is waterless with undefined trail and indeterminate miles. I guess we just have different limits.
Next was hitch back to visitor center, then started long hike up the Middle Fork of Gila River. Canyon walls frequently 300 to 400 feet high and carved into spires and other interesting shapes. Hiking was difficult. We were crossing the river 3-4 times per mile. All approaches to the river were loose sand and river rock. We did make it up the canyon 13 miles. As we get farther up the canyon narrows and crossings become more frequent. Our legs are painfully chapped from air drying and rose and berry bushes scratching our legs front and back. We have no lotion so I used olive oil…thanks again, Jerry!
Plump black tadpoles are at each crossing. The surprise is the huge spotted brown tadpoles almost 6″ long, some already with back legs. The fish we saw were also big that we wondered if the hot springs had something that promotes growth.
We found a hot springs about 11 miles up, and soaked our tired feet for a few minutes.