Continental Divide Trail – Day 8 (27 + 5 = 32 miles)
It was a hot morning and the approach roads to the Gila River were steep with a lot of loose rock. Both of which made the going a slow, but the shade of the ever increasing tree cover was amazing.
It took until 2pm to finally drop down to the river. I was excited; running water for the first time on trail! I think it might even be the first natural water source, as I have been reliant on solar tanks and stock ponds up to this point.
Unfortunately I was a little too excited and headed downstream instead of up without realizing. It wasn’t the worse navigation error, with both streams pointing north at that stage because of a horseshoe bend, but it was still pretty bad. It took me the best part of an hour to realize, and took me the same to get back to where I was originally.
It was a gorgeou s river. The simple contrast to the flat, barren desert that I have been walking through up to this point was expectingly striking. I had gone from worrying about water to not having to carry any in an instant. A desert oasis!
This far down the river, it had fairly steep banks and quiet a few rocky outcroppings. As the river wound its way down it would hit a rock wall and turn. It was at these points that I would run out of land and have to cross the river. Lays maps states that I will have to cross the Gila approx 89 times.
My feet are going to be wet for a long time as I make my way up to the headwaters. The depth was decent as well, with the majority of the crossing points around knee high and only a few a little higher.
With the hot weather, the water was perfect. Do you know that right water temp that is not cold, but still is cool? It was that. I’m not usually a water person, but I did go for a swim just after I got back on track.
I pushed on to 8pm and was on the tired side. Besides the swim, I had worked hard all afternoon to make up for getting lost. The terrain was flat, but the combo of river walking, not always having a trail in the other side and plenty of sand made the going a little tough.