Mile 30.8 Gila alternate, camping at 5433ft
All night long I’ve had bears and lions and coyotes having a dance party around my bed. It was one of those nights where every snap crackle and pop is a bunyip and me having every nerve standing on end is the thing that will save me.
Of course that’s complete codswallop and when I finally stop staring at the pine trees and ever lightening sky above me I realise that for once in my late-night light-challenged campsite choosing career, I’ve actually chosen a stellar one. If only I’d known that I had a pretty bear-proof setup I may have slept better.
There were actually a few coyotes yip yipping to each other through the night…I really need to remember to look up “are coyotes mean”. It’ll sit nicely alongside my google searches of “what to do if you see a grizzly”, “how not to become a mountain lion chew toy”, and “best vegan chocolate cake recipe” – the last one having nothing to do with anything except it’s a fairly regular search of mine.
I find my water and it takes a while to scoop out and filter, then it’s hikety hike time. The morning has some clouds moving in and out;
I enjoy the chance to hike without my hat so I can stare up at the trees while my vision isn’t limited. Another water source, another break. Eat a few things, drink a few electrolytes, hike a few miles.
The trail meanders along happily through the trees and along a dirt track then starts to descend to the Gila river. It’s one of those descents that looks like it should take 20min but takes an hour. As I’m nearing the bottom the sky starts spitting at me. No worries, it’s warm and it’ll pass. I’m finally at the bottom (hooray my ankle says!), I find a little spot to sit for lunch and it starts spitting a bit more. I quickly fetch some water, take out everything from my pack, line it with a rubbish bag, put it all back in, put a bag over the top and the sky absolutely explodes.
Huge thunder and flashes of lightning. I’ve got my raincoat on and dig out my rain pants. I’m huddled under a tree (I know not the best place during lightning but I’m not sitting in the open!) and wrap my useless shredded polycro groundsheet around me because all of a sudden the temperature has dropped dramatically and it is freeeeezing.
I’m stuck there for about an hour and the rain finally eases off a bit so I start moving. I need to move to get some warmth into me!
The ‘trail’ follows the Gila river through a deep canyon. The basic idea is just to follow along as best you can jumping from one bank to the other when the one you’re on turns ito cliff face. In between there is a lot of bushwhacking, getting scratched by all the scratchy things, climbing over rocks and boulders, ducking under trees, clambering over fallen logs and walking through gravelly wash. Oh and of course wading through the water and trying not to fall over or get swept away.
Due to the rain the water is flowing pretty fast and it covers my whole leg in some places. I have to find more trees and rocks and things to huddle under as more thunder and lightning roll through a few more times.
It’s exhausting, very slow going, yet quite exciting. It’s more of the ‘choose your own adventure’ part of the CDT that I’m really enjoying. There’s no dozing and just plugging away at miles (although there’s plenty of that on the road walks). It’s a puzzle that you have to solve with every step.
My rain pants rip up to the knee and the water is filling them up like sails that are trying to send me downstream.
42 river crossings later it’s time to call it a day It’s tricky finding camping spots in amongst the jungle, but I eventually find one and set up just in time for the rain to start again.
I’m completely wet and soggy and go to sleep crossing fingers for sunshine and rainbows.