April 15 CDT mile 161 Silver City
A zero day today. Zero miles hiked. I needed this today and while I am waiting for Keith’s Big Agnes tent to arrive I am resting in the Silver City RV Park with Boomer. Some GET hikers (Grand Enchantment Trail) have arrived and I’m asking them about the Gila River. Is it too high? Yes. Is it cold. Oh heck yes. Is it swift? Yes. I’ve been researching an alternate route to Doc’s and I think I have found one. I don’t like dangerous river crossings.
April 16 Gila Alternate mile 9.6
I found OB at the post office right when it opened this morning and we walked back to the RV park to say goodbye to Boomer, who is leaving the trail for a couple of weeks while his feet heal. Instead of jumping back on the CDT we took the Walnut alternate for seven and a half miles to begin the Gila alternate. I love all these alternates! So great. Today was an absolutely stellar day to be alive and hiking. Nice trail, perfect weather and an interesting change in scenery. About a mole from our stopping point we sat on some rocks and looked out over a huge valley full of hoodoos and distant peaks. Wow. Just wow.
We turned a corner and came to the “Regis-Tree” which is a mailbox covered in bark containing a trail register. It was sitting on top of a nice piece of juniper that had been cut to fit the registry. We signed in and looked around at some great tenting spots. I dropped my pack and started to set up. All of the sudden I hear someone coming down the trail. Tris guy just walks out of the woods. He introduced himself as Doug the Hermit. He’s the keeper of the Regis-Tree. In the next two hours OB and I learned all about Doug’s life out here and he really is an honest to god hermit. He leaves the mountain once a year for two weeks to “do things like go to REI and see my kids.”
He’s very devout and gave OB and I a Benedictine pendant on yucca twine that he made. Apparently St Benedict protects against the forces of nature such as floods, storms and things like that. Thanks Doug!
April 17 Spring Canyon Alternate mile 4
We climbed all morning. Up and down, then up some more to Tortoise Ridge at almost 8,000 feet. It started to snow. Oh, last night we had thunder and lightning and rain all night. It makes the land smell amazing. We lost the trail and did some bushwhacking to find it again then it was cruiser trail for a good 6 miles. We had cold windy weather all day and when we finally dropped down to the Gila we happily turned east to the Spring Canyon trail that will take us 8 miles to a road that will then take us to Doc’s. The idea of having to cross a waist, or even chest deep Gila about 75 times in 20 miles in the cold did not seem reasonable to us.
So we’re on an alternate to the alternate, which is pretty great because it is gorgeous out here and there is nobody on this trail. I saw some slot canyons and majestic rock formations.
What a day. I’m in my sleeping bag getting ready to read myself to sleep, a notion that seems like such a luxury out here.
Tomorrow we get to Doc’s.
April 18 Gila River Alternate mile 38.9
After shaking the frost off our tents, OB (stands for Old and Busted) and I were hiking over hills towards road 15. This Spring Canyon Alternate has been fabulous. Lots of great views, no people, lots of wilderness. We got to the road around 9 and after grabbing a couple of liters from Sapillo creek we were ready to road walk 14 miles to Doc’s. I don’t like road walks but this one was pretty ok. Very little traffic, lots of shoulder and shade. We got about 12 miles in and Redwood, who is a trail angel, stopped and offered us a ride. Molly Molly, a Grand Enchantment Trail hiker who I met in Silver City, was getting a ride to Doc’s. Nice to see her again. We got ice cream, I got my package thanks to my outstandingly wonderful boyfriend, and after organizing everything I headed down to the Gila River Hot Springs and Campground. It’s great here. OB are tenting on the river with two other CDT hikers, Greg and Dustin, a father and son duo. I chatted about water sources and trail alternates with Allen, the owner. Everyone here is so nice and it makes me very happy to find such people. We’re getting a ride to the cliff dwellings tomorrow from some other campers and so we don’t have to walk 5 miles on the road. So that’s nice.
Words cannot express how soaking in hot springs felt so I’m not even going to try.
And they have baby goats! Everywhere!