Date- October 24, 2019
Location- Doc Campbell’s
Elevation- 5,646 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 18.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,476.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s, 70s
Injuries- fungus toenail
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- 8
Days without laundry- 8
Hunger/craving- greasy food
I was a bit on edge after the bear and I scared each other last night. I felt like I needed some backup where there was none. So I invented my own…
Restless and Determined
After resolving not to set up my tarp, I found it hard to let myself relax while lying on the open ground – even in front of the fire. I decided to play one of my audio books out loud from my cell phone. So, now there was the benefit of a human voice speaking (to ward off anymore night callers); I could listen to a story; and listening to books in bed puts me right to sleep – which is exactly what happened. However, each time the fire died enough to allow the cold to reach me, I would wake up from said cold and throw some more fuel on the fire. I threw the last log on at around 3 am and also turned off my book. It wasn’t a half bad night after all.
It was close to 9 am when I was back in the canyon and crossing the river again. I needed to get over 18 miles to Doc Campbell’s before 4 pm, when they would close. If I didn’t get there before they closed, then I’d have to wait until noon the next day to resupply. I really didn’t want to have that kind of time constraint on me, so I hit the river hard this morning.
I have to admit, the 14 mile or so section of river canyon between “The Meadows” and the Gila Cliff Dwellings was incredible! It wasn’t any more or less beautiful than what I saw yesterday. However, the trail was always there, almost always obvious, and almost always excellently maintained. It allowed me to not focus so hard on navigation, and focus more on the beauty of the canyon.
All that being said, I crossed the river 91 times in that 14ish miles – give or take a few to account for human error. Early on in the morning, the water was so cold that my feet were quickly numb and negatively affecting my pace again. It was like everything from the ankle down was drunk and I didn’t have full control of it. A super strange feeling.
Around 11 am I stopped in a sunny part of the canyon for 20 minutes to let my feet thaw out a little bit. My skin was icy cold when I first took my shoes off, and they were still icy cold when I put them back on 20 minutes later, albeit I could flex my toes and ankles without as much delay.
The toenail on my left big toe is in a bad way. It’s completely rotted underneath and the toenail itself feels and sounds like a dead leaf when I mess with it. It wiggles and lifts up pretty easily to a certain point, but I’m not ready to rip it off yet. I’ve still been going sock-less for this entire river section and I’ve had zero issues with all the moisture except one… my feet slide around a little more with all the water in my shoes – and every so often, the bad toenail will catch the top fabric of the shoe and peel up and back. If the thought of this makes you cringe, you’re not alone. Every time it happens I have to stop and usually say something along the lines of, “Ughhh @#%$^#@#%%##!!” It’s still hanging in there though… literally.
I pushed hard through the rest of the canyon and didn’t take any breaks. I took lots of pictures, eventually coming out the other side at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center a little before 3 pm. Originally I’d been hoping the Cliff Dwellings would be close to the low route. As it turned out, it was on the high route and I would have to do about a 5 mile round trip in order to see them and get back to the visitor center. Since Doc Campbell’s closed in an hour and I still had 3.5 miles to go, the Cliff Dwellings were not happening. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have done the extra 5 miles even if I wasn’t on a time crunch.
Even if I hiked 3.5 miles per hour, I was going to get to Doc’s almost right at closing – so I started running intervals. I’d run for 30 seconds, then walk fast for 2 minutes… so on and so forth. In the end, I arrived at Doc’s with 25 minutes till closing.
Doc’s is nothing more than a simple country store about 38 miles (by highway) from the nearest “real town” of Silver City. It’s an important hub for hikers coming and going from the Gila due to the very long carry between Pie Town and Silver City. There’s not much to it, but the family that runs it is extremely friendly and accommodating to hikers; any thru-hiker worth their salt can make due with what they provide.
I got my resupply squared away for the next 46 miles into Silver City and went around the back of the building to the common area. Here I found Jetpack, a few Grand Enchantment Trail thru-hikers (Doc’s is a mutual trail crossing), and Brian! You may not remember the name, but Brian was one of the hikers who went through Glacier National Park with me. We had the same itinerary through the park, but I hadn’t seen him since then. He has a trail name now, and that name is “Fuzz;” this is because he has a full head of thick, curly, fuzzy hair.
We caught up and hung out behind Doc’s for a couple hours before walking a short ways through the small community to the Gila Hot Springs Campground.
Jetpack is planning to walk the highway into Silver City tomorrow while Fuzz and I wrap up the low route. Another word on the trail says the 46 mile stretch from here to the low route is pretty rough. As in… the trail is mostly nonexistent or overgrown. Most people avoid it, but I’m determined to capture the entire low route and see just how many river crossings I can rack up. Currently I’m up to 206 crossings…
You can read my current and past posts and see all the photos from this hike and past hikes by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com