The Gila River Section

Before we headed into the Gila River we had something very important to do… celebrate my birthday! After a long day of road walking we ended at the start of the Gila alternate. This was the night before my birthday and Blackbird has planned to celebrate. She bought sangria and a cake for me. With our whole group back together we built a fire and celebrated. We didn’t get too crazy because we had to hike the next day and went to sleep a little past hiker midnight.

We awoke in the morning and had more birthday celebrations. We had muffins with birthday candles in them and fruit. We slowly ate and packed up and said our final goodbyes to Blackbird as she was leaving us here and we hiked out. I hiked out with a bottle of wine and some cake because weight doesn’t count on your birthday.

We started the hike toward the Gila. We had a few days to get to the actual water so we started out on forest roads. We hiked for a while on those roads till we got to a section of trail called Devil’s Garden. This was an amazing section of trail with huge rock formations. It was a very cool section to hike through and I stopped frequently to observe the structures. A little past the Devil’s Garden we came to the infamous hermit’s house. We didn’t see him but we signed his log and took pictures with the amazing CDT sign in the trail. This day just kept getting better in views. After this section we had a hard climb over a peak but then we dropped down into a lush canyon area. We once again were met by Beacon, who had driven up a dirt road to meet Krafty with his phone that Beacon had picked up from the repair shop for him. After chatting with and thanking Beacon we moved on. We hiked down the steep switchbacks to the Sapillo Creek, which is right before the Gila. We camped here for the night and I celebrated my birthday with wine by the fire.

The next day began the actual river crossings. We hadn’t walked more than a half a mile when we hit our first crossing. Though I was excited for this section, getting into cold water early in the morning is never fun. The crossings for the morning were mellow and though we were doing one about every five minutes, it was a fun adventure. Sixteen miles later we were all pretty exhausted when we arrived at Doc Campbell’s. Here we joined the many other hikers and sprawled out on the lawn. There was gear hung out to dry and resupply boxes exploded everywhere. Doc’s is famous for their homemade ice cream, so of course I went in to get mine. When I did and got my box there was a note on it from friends saying they had bought me ice cream and a sandwich. This was such a nice treat! (Thanks Allen and Betsy!) That night we camped at the campground and hot springs. Who once again came with awesome trail magic? Beacon! Since Doc’s doesn’t sell beer he went and got some for the whole crew.

After a night of hot springs and beer we loaded our packs with seven days of food and headed out for the next two days of river walking. We counted each crossing and we crossed the river 86 times each day. As we wound our way up the canyon I was struck by the beauty. The canyon walls towered over us and there were hoodoos and cliff dwellings to admire along the way. After two days we passed through the river and had a couple days of walking on trails and dirt roads to get back to the CDT. Krafty and I took the CDT route into Pie Town. This last section was beautiful as we passed through pine forests and eventually dropped down to a field. Even though there was not much of an established trail, I enjoyed hiking through the big open field at the golden hour. We hiked till dusk and camped by the highway. Now only a 13-mile road walk stood between us and lot of pie!

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