Miles: 18
Camp: CDT mile 173
Gila River crossings: 24

Though my sleeping pad seems to have a slow leak somewhere, I slept great last night. The day started out with a big climb to up over 7500 ft. It was great because it was really cold and the climbing really got the blood flowing. Plus, the views of where we are coming from were beautiful. It’s always amazing to look back on where you’ve traveled, knowing that it took hundreds of thousands of steps to get there.

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We made our way over a pass and into another canyon with a beautiful forest. There is so much plant diversity out here: cholla cactus, prickly pear, ponderosa and piñon pines, juniper, mullein, meadow rue, ash trees, many oaks, manzanita, lupine and so so much more. I need to look up so many new plants when I get the chance next. I even saw Douglas Fir today, which is one of my favorite trees. I really had no idea how widespread it lived.

After walking over a couple of passes we began our steep descent to the Gila River. We put lunch off until we got there (an extra hour) and I was really feeling the hunger growing as I walked. The hiker hunger seems to be beginning, and it’s going to be fierce.

The Gila River came upon us at 1pm and we sat on the shore staring at the beauty of it as we ate lunch.

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With beautiful canyon walls lining the river and stunning new plants to gawk at, I can tell this will be a highlight of the hike. I was instantly smitten with the river as I ate lunch and watched sparrows play in the sky above. There are some phenomenal trees here that we have deduced are Sycamore. I can’t get enough of them, I am simply enamored. They are so grand and make very cool, giant forms as they grow.

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I love these trees

Knowing there are many crossings of the Gila, we all placed bets on how many we think there are. The winner gets beer. I guessed 120, but really am not sure. Since we did 24 already today, I think my chances are pretty good.

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Pow wow at the first crossing

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Some crossings were only about knee deep, but some got almost all of the way to our hips. Sometimes the current was swift and sometimes it was calm. All in all it makes for some slow going in making miles. We wanted to do 20 miles today, but it wasn’t in the cards with this new obstacle. It is truly stunning though. I love the Gila!

We got to camp at about 6:30 and are all pretty close to sleep at 8:00. Tomorrow we have 9 miles to get into Doc Campbell’s, which is basically a small store with ice cream, and they let us send our resupply boxes there. Nearby are campgrounds with hot springs, so we plan to get there at noon and take advantage of that for the rest of the day.

In the meantime, I look forward to a cool night sleep next to the running river.

Dinner: refried black beans with cous cous, veggies and avocado.

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Possible cliff dwellings
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Headed to the Gila
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Rampage as an elk
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View from the loo
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