June 1-3, 237 miles hiked
We made it back to Silver City after a wonderful and very restful weekend on Bainbridge Island celebrating Ness and Emma, spending time with friends, meeting lots of new friends, and EATING. The next morning, we stood on the side of the road hoping to hitch a ride back up to Doc Campbell’s, and were finally picked up by a father and son from Texas who had just finished a backpacking trip (thanks Bruce and Matthew!). It was time to get back on the trail, and we had 125 miles until the next town of Pie Town.
The first thirty miles or so continued along the Middle Fork of the Gila River. Soon, I was back in the Gila rhythm: find trail, hike a few minutes, cross river, bushwack through brush until we find the trail again, repeat. It was slow hiking, but it was even more beautiful than the previous section of the river. The red cliffs rose from the water dramatically, creating magical swimming holes and vistas at every turn.
We spent the entire next day hiking through the Gila. It was such slow going that we only hiked about 15 miles, but it was so beautiful, I tried to savor the experience. I knew I’d miss all of it – the constant water, the refreshing feel of crossing the river, the scenery – when we were back to walking on hot, dirt roads in a few days. As the day continued, the cliffs became lower and lower until they changed into hills, pine trees started to appear, and the river became more shallow with each bend. We hiked until dark and camped in a meadow surrounded by frogs.
The next day, we had only two miles until the end of the river. The river ended at Snow Lake, which was very underwhelming, especially for being the source of such a majestic river. From there, the trail followed dirt roads all the way to Pie Town. The landscape changed dramatically, and we found ourselves hiking through wide open plains towards far off mountains. We stayed on the same dirt road the rest of the day, and would spend much of the next day on it, too. It was hot, and water was scarce. We spent many hours listening to podcasts while we hiked. I felt tired all afternoon and evening, like we had been walking all day but not getting far enough – the miles were not coming easily. We camped in an open area with a big fire ring next to the forest service road, where I imagined the locals having their bonfire parties.