Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 7... From Heaven to Hell...

Broke camp fairly early and on my way to Alum Canyon Trail. The strong winds I've encountered decided to take a break today. Reviewed my picture taking before I leaving camp and have come to the conclusion that so far they are awful. Alum trail is not that hard nor is it long only about 1 1/2miles down and you are in the Gila river.

Peaceable, Tranquil and exciting is how I describe my fist encounter with the river. Its flow is medium in stature but I can hear and see lots of birds and wildlife running around. I spend the morning right on the river with nobody around, purifying water to drink and just taking in the sounds and sights. The trail from here is only another 3miles and ends at the Gila Bridge / Grapevine campground. However it crosses the Gila about 11 times.

I'm in complete heaven for the most part. Taking in the river up to mid thigh levels. Bounding from side to side and really just enjoying all the sounds and sights it has to offer. I passed a hot spring but am really having fun crisscrossing the river and decide not to stop. I'm splashing like a little boy in a giant bathtub. My shoes may not be dry for days; and I don't care.

Feeling a very strange sensation across my face, I stop and take a picture just to make sure...Yep, its a smile. One that has not left my face since today started.

As I press further along I start running into people. At one crossing I yield to a equine group of mainly kids and a very scruffy looking trail dog. Another a friendly couple from Silver City looking for the hot spring finding it interesting that I walked here for my journey.

All to soon my trail ends directly into a campground. Filled with yapping dogs, tables cluttered with potential litter and the rambunctious family volleyball match. Its a wasteland of REI tent purchases and Igloo cooler chests. One tent that catches my eye in this recreational pig sty is a Mountain Hardwear EV-3 . A $750 alpine tent meant for Everest, certainly not some place like this. I doubt this perfectly sculpted tent as never even had a whiff of snow fall on it.

I'm disgusted and stay only long enough to have something to eat and head toward the cliff dwellings another 8miles away. A man asks me if I'd like a beer and a burger but since I just ate, I said "no thanks" and head out of the wasteland at best possible speed back on NM-15. Past another human commercialized site with RV's and tourist call "Gila Hot Springs"; all yours for just $6 a soak.

Lots of this going on near the Visitors Center
About 3:15pm I arrive at the Gila Visitors center and realize the dwellings close at 4. Looks like I'll be spending the night at Scorpion campground if I want to stay and see them. I will take this time to grab a little water, some pamphlets and check the reports. A place called "The Meadows" caught on fire and the trail is closed but the fire is fully contained. The water reports are not great but I've sen worse. Oh and its Jr. Ranger day there and tables are setup with displays for kids; makes me miss Lily even more so.

About an hour or so till sunset and I'm close to Scorpion Passing T.J's Corral. Meet a backpacker along the way who has so much equipment outside his pack... I wonder what on earth could he have in it? He is a nice enough fellow who went to the U of A. We talk a bit about what to see north of the dwellings but he seems more anxious to talk more about my backpack and its design than trail heads. This is not the first nor the last on this trip people seemed very curious about ultra-light packing and how it can be beneficial. However I want to head to Scorpion and say my exiting salutations.

At the campground right across from the river I'm very surprised to see only one truck there. It's like the people prefer the security of others instead of solitude. All except for me and this man who I can now call a friend. His name is David and I find his journey as fascinating as other people find mine. He sometimes goes with the wind, just like me. He has been out here over a week but just returned from a supply run in Silver City. We drink beer and discuss the Gila, ranchers and other topics too numerous to list. His intelligent conversation, knowledge and passion for the area makes the trip worth it as he enlightens me to the best places the Gila has to offer. Plus I have to take time to thank him in this blog for the beer :-)

Till tomorrow all...Bangarang!

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