15.6 miles hiked, camping at Upper Scorpion Campground 5741ft
I don’t wanna get up. It’s cloudy but not rainy which is good, but the squelching of dry feet into wet shoes is a special kind of torture.
20 more river crossings and 7.6 miles to Doc Campbells. The sun teases and plays peek-a-boo for a while, ultimately hiding behind the clouds. I think I’m getting the hang of this section as there are some cairns marking the trail along the way…but sometimes there are none. It’s pretty cold and I keep moving to keep warm and also to make it to Doc’s before any more rain hits.
Finally I see a bridge ahead and a road! A little road walk up to the outpost – Doc Campbells is a little gas/ convenience/ everything kinda store. They accept hiker boxes so I have a box full of yummy new food to eat.
I’m still so wet and cold. I explode all my things across a table at the back, plug my chargeables into the wall, empty all my pockets of all the little bits of rubbish that have accumulated. My box is inside and I pay my $3 to Doc plus grab a bag of chips and a cup of black coffee. A bag of chips a day keeps the hypothermia away.
I sit at the table staring into the ether. My brain too cold and tired to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I just want to curl up on the floor inside the store and have a nap. They won’t mind, right?
A tiny spark of sun and I snap to attention. I take the opportunity to hang everything on the little railings out the back- my tarp, my ‘groundsheet’ (what tiny bits of it are left. I am not a fan of polycro!), sleeping bag, socks, gaiters. Hopefully tonight I will sleep inside dry things. I chat to people who are letting their dogs out of cars and munching on icecream. I have another half cup of coffee (not awesome but waaaarm).
There is a shower available for a fee but I have nothing clean or dry to put on, and only a bandana to dry myself with so that dream fades away.
Eventually I manage to stuff my food into my pack, collect everything which is now 90% dry and start the 4 mile road walk to the Gila cliff dwellings.
I’m so excited by the dwellings, but they close whenever there is lightning. Just as I step onto the road from Doc Campbells there is a huge clap of thunder and it starts to rain. I’ve got my raincoat and newly mended (duct taped) rainpants on so not too worried. But then it starts falling harder and harder. It gets cold and the rain turns to hail, which turns into marble sized hail that is falling hard and fast and really stings!!!
My mending job fails miserably and the tape falls right off leaving one cold cold leg and one just cold leg. I hide under a small inadequate tree on the side of the road and am stuck there for about half an hour while the hail continues to attack. Eventually I creep out and make a run for it to the visitors centre- literally running down the road because by this stage I’m freezing! I step inside and they tell me the bad news that the dwellings are shut and probably won’t reopen today. I linger inside in the warmth and look at the displays, and settle for the poor substitute of the video about the dwellings instead of the real thing.
I’m torn about what to do. It’s still really early in the day (4pm) but I want to see the dwellings and I won’t be hiking back down in the Gila while there is lightning. I decide to walk the couple of miles to the upper scorpion campground right next to the dwellings and set up for the night. It’s already freezing and I take my time finding the perfect flat spot so I don’t turn into a waterslide (complete with fun blowup mattress) during the night.
I huddle in all my clothes in my quilt eating handfuls of things to stay warm. My body immediately goes into EAT ALL THE FOOD mode when it gets cold. Did I factor in enough food to eat this much? Was I supposed to buy more at the store? I only half care – future Snakebite can figure that out.
Past Snakebite had the genius idea of downloading episodes of Gilmore Girls onto my phone, so I spend the next couple of shivering hours eating things and watching the Lorelais in their fabulous little world, before fading into a coooold sleep.