Date- October 22, 2019
Location- Wash on the side of trail
Elevation- 7,365 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 26.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,435.5 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 50s, 60s
Pain level- Zero
Wildlife encounters- Big squirrels
Days without shower- 6
Days without laundry- 6
For some reason, the time on my phone has set back an hour. I haven’t had reception in almost two days, so I can’t check to see if it’s “fall back” or if I’ve crossed into Pacific time. I honestly don’t think it’s either of those. Jetpack’s phone is still showing normal time – so I don’t know. Anyhow, due to the funky time warp, I wasn’t hiking until around 8:30 am.
The trail was all gravel roads for the first 17 miles or so. Then, it was jeep track… after that, it was trail… and later on, it was gravel roads again for the last 1.5 miles or so.
ALL DAY LONG
There were hunters whizzing by me in their trucks, on their side-by- sides, and Gator vehicles all day long. Some pulled over to chat and ask me what I was doing, or if I’d seen any elk – but most just dusted me out.
There were no animals around except squirrels, but these weren’t like any type of squirrel I’d seen before. They were huge! Probably in the order of 2 to 4 pounds or more. They had exceptionally bushy tails and large pointy ears (with long tufts of hair coming off them) – like a bobcat. I wish I had service to look up what kind they are… but by the time I do get service, I probably won’t remember to do the research . If you’re curious, you could look up “Squirrels in the Gila area of New Mexico.” I found one dead on the road and took a picture of it. Very unusual sight indeed.
IN THE ZONE
The walking was easy until the very end of the day. I quite literally just listened to my audio book nonstop. I also finally tapped into my good food, which was a huge psychological boost. I’ve been carrying the same food (besides the seaweed and cookie/cracker snacks from Pie Town) since Grants – more than 140 miles ago. I still have another 40 miles until I can replenish. If I can do those 40 miles on the Gila River in two days, then I’ll be in good shape.
The highlight of today came in the last 4 miles. The trail dipped into a narrow canyon and snaked its way through free grazing cattle, wash beds, and marshy grassland (for nearly 3 miles) – before opening back up into forest. Part of that canyon walk was a confusing bushwhack that made me realize just how much the 40 mile Gila River Canyon low route could possibly suck. Bring it…
After getting through the canyon, I met up with Jetpack a mile and a half later at the junction of the Gila low/high route. Tomorrow morning she’ll go one way and I’ll go the other. The place she’s heading to camp tomorrow is on the edge of the low route. We could conceivably camp in the same spot tomorrow, but I’ll have to do 21 miles while she only has to do around 15 miles. Ideally, I want to do 21 miles and get there. I don’t know how plausible that is, but I’m going to grind hard. I just wish I had more daylight. I’m anxious as hell about it…
Right now I’m cowboy camped under a massive lone ponderosa. I’m snuggled up to the base of the trunk with all the spiders. Jetpack is on the opposite side in her tent. Her side is on top of an embankment covered in pine duff. My side is two feet lower in a sandy wash. The tree is literally growing half in the wash, and half out. We’re in a huge valley with no protection. It’s gonna be a cold night! It’s gonna be even colder in the morning when I drop into that canyon after 2 miles. Tomorrow is when things are going to get very interesting…
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