CDT Days 8-11 Silver City to Doc Campbell’s

Day 8

Zero day 

Silver City was a great town for a zero day; food Co-op, library, coffee shops, and a brewery. What else does a hiker need? 


Grand Parambulator, who was a day ahead, sent us a cryptic message.


“Go find Hermit Doug. There will be a special surprise when you get there”. That is all he said. 

Day 9

Approx 22 miles 

We road walked out of town. It was a lovely day but rather uneventful until we got to a small water source and a register. That’s when we began the search for Doug. 


As Shadowhawk, Mummy, and I signed the register, Gunga Din took off up the hill into the forest. 


“If I don’t come back, then you will know that I found him”.


10 minutes later and no return so we took off down the path after him until a small cabin appeared. Gunga Din was talking to an old man on the porch. 

He introduced himself as Doug and started excitedly telling us the story of how he ended up on this mountain and how he had lived there alone for 23 years. The man did not stop to breathe for an hour. He invited us to set up camp and talked while we did, then back to the cabin where he pulled out deliciously comfortable lawn chairs for us and the special surprise. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what it is, but it was amazing beyond expectation. 


We stayed up way past hiker midnight listening to stories about the squirrels, rabbits, and foxes he had befriended over the years and how he had built the road we had taken up there with hand tools. 

We had to cut him off at some point, but we all went to sleep enthralled with and inspired by our encounter with this 71 year old hermit. 


Day 10 

19 miles

We woke up at sunrise to the sound of Doug yelling.


“Get up you lazy hikers, the coffee is on the stove!” 


He poured us each a huge cup of hot coffee as we ambled into the cabin and sat down by the woodstove, clearly planning on keeping us a while. 


“You’re not trying to get out of here too early, are you?” 


We shook our heads no, anxiously glancing at the clock and trying our best to let go of the endless hunger for miles and enjoy the experience. We spent three hours there sipping coffee, tasting Doug’s homemade bread, listening to stories, looking at pictures, and getting a tour of his small garden, where he grows tomatoes and cucumbers. 


Doug hiked us out a mile and we hugged goodbye, all grateful for our time with Doug and hesitant to leave his paradise on the mountainside. 


After we left we took the Gila River Alternate and made our way down to the canyon. We crossed the river 30 times that afternoon. Any other time, I would have been annoyed to have wet feet but it was glorious to have such an incredible amount of water after crossing the desert. 

Day 11

15 miles? It is getting difficult to figure out exact mileage as we take different alternates. Almost no one takes the official route exclusively. I, for one, am enjoying having options. 


After hiking for two hours and crossing the river many times, we crossed it once more to find a hidden hot springs tucked up against a cliff wall. It wasn’t too hot but it was just right for the four of us. We spent a long time soaking in our private bath before walking the rest of the way to Doc Campbell’s Post. 

Arriving a little after 1pm, I bought a soda and picked up my first resupply box. Much eating, sorting, trading, and socializing ensued for the next 4 hours before we headed out again, back to the Gila. We didn’t make it but 4 miles before being surprised by another hotspring. We couldn’t resist getting in again and spent another hour or two there before camping a quarter mile down the trail from there. We crossed the Gila 35 times, making for a total of 55 times. 

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