Day 16: Middle Fork of the Gila River

 

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If you have ever witnessed a bird try to fly against the wind or a beaver try to swim against a strong current, then you can easily understand how our day went. We woke up at a reasonable 6:30 AM and packed up our things. By 7:00, Garbelly was wondering across the stream to take one last dip in Jordan Hot springs before we all left. Then our long day of looking for trail and fighting the river began.

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Hiking seems to never stop teaching us lessons. Our lesson today was that even when there is no trail or path, humans seem to always find the path of least resistance. We wandered through the middle of nowhere with no trail and throughout the entire day we found footprints of a hiker a day in front of us. We also learned that sometimes there was no path of least resistance.

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The hiking was a very slow moving process. Sometimes we crossed the river over eight times in the same mile and lacked trail for the entire stretch. Every now and then we would find an old lichen covered cairn leading the way to sections of old trail. Even though that trail was usually covered in fallen trees and briars, anything was better than walking over baseball sized rocks and loose sand.

 

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The other reason our day slowly progressed was due to the unbelievable beauty of where we were walking. Yes our feet were soaked, freezing and hurt, but the pristine beauty that surrounded us was enough to distract us from our discomfort and pain. The beauty is what gets us through every day.

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Stone cathedrals and pipe organs lined the walls of the serpentine canyon we wandered, playing a hymn as bright as the sky as the wind swept through the towers and trees. The sound of rushing water never leaving its accompaniment. The land of enchantment had us all lost in its mesmerizing song.

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As we approached the end of the day and began to look for camp, the sky and the trees were filled with birds of prey. Black Hawks with beautiful white striped tails, a golden eagle, falcons, a raven and black vultures swarmed the sky. Amidst the granite spires and towering ponderosas, they seemed as if they were pterodactyls from a time long ago.

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Finally, we found a place to camp, after setting up in the never ending wind and eating dinner. We stretched and quickly went to bed. It had been a long day and sleep had never sounded better.

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Cheers to wet socks and cold shoes! 

Garbelly & Critter  

Fields and fields of Horse Tail!  

Fields and fields of Horse Tail!  

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