Monday, November 29, 2021

Day 20: Cliff Dwellings and a Naked Hiker

May 10: The morning was cold... oh, so cold! I laid around in my sleeping bag pretty late trying to stay warm, but I also wasn't in a big rush either because I wanted to take a side trip off the main CDT to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and those didn't open until 9:00am. So I slept in late.

A whole heap of other hikers arrived in the morning--I'm not even sure how many hikers were now hanging around Doc Campbell's anymore. But more problematic was one guy who showed up reporting that he had been on a day hike with his elderly father and brother and got separated from them at about 3:00 the previous afternoon. They had only planned to be out for the afternoon--definitely not prepared to spend a night in the woods--and he was understandably a little worried.

Hikers! Hikers! Everywhere!

Doc Campbell's hadn't opened yet, but there was a house behind it where the folks who run it live and they came out to start the process of calling out a search and rescue team. I should point out that our cell phones didn't work out here--there was no signal for anyone to call 911--although we were able to get a slow wi-fi connection from the store.

Pez, Evenstar and I eventually headed out to continue our hikes, hoping that the father and brother would be found okay but not knowing anything definitive as of yet. (Later, we heard that they were found and in good condition, so a happy ending!)

The road walk would continue out from Doc Campbell's.

Pez and Evenstar didn't feel like walking the mile or two off-trail to check out the nearby cliff dwellings. Pez's knee was still causing him issues so he didn't want to use it anymore than necessary, and Evenstar's blisters were still causing her issues and adding extra miles to the hike held no interest for her. So I diverged from them, promising to catch up again later in the day.

The walk out of Doc Campbell's was along the road, as was the walk to the cliff dwellings. Lots of road walking today! Not very interesting or exciting, but I couldn't say the same for the cliff dwellings themselves! I left my pack at the entrance with a park volunteer providing help and information to visitors to save myself the effort of hauling it around the mountainside, then headed up the loop trail to the cliff dwellings. Due to COVID, they made the loop a one-way trail and didn't allow us to enter the cliff dwellings, but we could see walk by them and admire them from the exterior.

Which were absolutely awesome. Amazing, even! Very cool.

The Gila Cliff Dwellings were awesome!

Then it was back to the entrance where I retrieved my pack and started the walk back to the trail. I had only made it about a half-mile down the road, though, before a vehicle pulled over and offered me a ride. Since I wasn't actually on the CDT at this point, I said sure! Take me back to the trail! I was perfectly happy not having to hike an off-trail road walk.

Due to COVID restrictions, we weren't allowed into any of these. =(

The ride only lasted for a couple of minutes since I probably wasn't more than a mile from the CDT where I had gotten off, but I sure was happy to cutout that otherwise unnecessary walk. It was also, I realized, the first time I had been in a motorized vehicle since my mom threw me out of the truck 1.5 miles short of the Mexican border. The terrain raced by at dizzying speeds!

Back on the trail, the road walk continued a bit longer. The driver offered to take me further, but I turned him down. It was still a road walk from here, but this was official CDT trail. That I couldn't skip.... *shaking head* 

I put on my pack and continued the hike, eventually reaching a trailhead another mile or two further down the road where I finally returned to a real trail following the Gila River upstream again. My feet had been dry all morning since I was on the road or the cliff dwellings, but now that the trail was back on the Gila River, my feet would be wet the rest of the day with countless river fords.

Indeed, trying to count the crossings was seemingly impossible, but I came up with a strategy: I would take a photo at every point where I had to ford the Gila. Then, later, I could just go back and count the water photos for the day. That is how I know I forded the Gila River a whopping 48 times today.

Back on the Gila River, which I'd have to ford 48 times this afternoon.

I had noticed that the further upstream we got, the less water was in the river. That was to be expected as tributaries made the river grow larger and larger the further downstream one went, but we were hiking upstream. It was expected to get smaller and smaller the closer to the source we got.

Along the river valley, the views were awesome! Absolutely stunning scenery and well worth the visit. The wet feet got old, but it was very much worth the trouble.

Late in the day, I caught up with Evenstar and Pez as they were taking a break, and we hiked near each other the rest of the way to camp. I had planned from the beginning of the day to reach Jordan Hot Spring with the hope of soaking in it all night long, and that was where we ended up.

Pez decided that he wanted to camp alone and watch some Netflix shows on his phone and continued on a bit further, but we expected to meet up with him again the next day. Perhaps while he was still breaking down camp since he didn't seem like much of a morning person.

I used what was left the daylight to set up camp and cook dinner, and as the sun set, I headed over to the hot spring. It had been filled with a few hikers when I first arrived, but it was now empty of people and I had the pool of water all to myself. So I stripped down naked and jumped in. It felt wonderful!

Jordan Hot Spring was a wonderful place to soak for two hours during the night! =) I took this photo when I first arrived at the campsite when it was still being used by other hikers. I did my soaking later in the evening.

I wound up soaking in the hot spring for about two hours. The hot spring felt wonderful, but my only minor complaint was that I wished it were an extra 5 to 10 degrees warmer. The water temperature was somewhere in the low 90s, if I recall correctly, which felt just a little cooler than I would have preferred. It still felt great, though! Don't get me wrong. I also liked that the hot spring had a pebbly bottom rather than being a muddy mess.

After a couple of hours, though, I was ready for some sleep. I dried off quickly--it felt pretty darned cold as soon as I stepped out of the hot spring--and I put my clothes back on before returning to camp and calling it a night.

Thus ended my 20th day on the trail.....

It's a beaver dam! Never did see a beaver, though.

A few hikers, at one of the many river crossings we would do....

I found this little guy between my campsite and the hot spring.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Here's how the hike looks based on the markers mentioned:

Pretty cool to follow this along.