Day 9: mile 144.5 - 14.5 (intersection with Tadpole Ridge on Gila River Alternate).
Total trip miles: 166.5
Today was a great day. It started with our send off from
The Bike Hause. Apparently not as many bells and trumpets as usual because it was 6:45 in the morning.
Today was the first day that I had a major route choice to make. The way it works on the CDT is there is an official route and then a huge number of alternates. This happens on a daily basis but a lot of alternates are where the trail maybe used to go. But today is one of a few big choices on the trail. The official trail heads into the Black Mountains but the alternate takes you through the the Gila River for a few days and you get to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings and stop at hot springs. I'd honestly made this decision way before I started. Of course I wanted the river. I chose to take Little Walnut St to the alternate rather than the confusing/possibly badly signed newer CDT trail out of Silver City.
So I headed down Little Walnut while the guys went in search of fuel for their stoves. I meandered down the road in absolutely no rush. Lots of different architecture and pretty trees and countryside. Overall such a nice roadwalk.
I was startled when a car pulled up to me but it turned out to be a great part of my day. The CDT is of course about the trail and the scenery but it's also about these small towns we pass through and all the amazing people we get to meet as thruhikers. Ted was a local gentleman and was so enthusiastic about the trail, the area and the hikers that I couldn't help but be happier after our conversation. It just put a big smile on my face, the cute dog and talking about my current favorite subject of the trail was of course an added bonus.
Soon enough I was walking into the Gila National Forest and this time I even got a pretty sign.
I took a break at Little Walnut Picnic area, a cool site that used to be a CCC site. Unfortunately the bathrooms were locked and the water was off. Then it was more pretty dirt road and the official start to theGila Alternate. Even more dirt road, and it was pretty steep. But the farther out it got the prettier it was. Rafiki caught up to me and we hiked together until we got to a real live running creek where we took a super long relaxing lunch.
Bigfoot and Thatch caught up and we all left around the same time. There was an awesome climb up a creek canyon that I was flying up. I scared some mystery mammals (6 or 7 of them, they looked like marmots but bigger with long dark tipped tails, ideas?). The trail flattened for a bit and was so interesting. All this cool rock and it looked into a valley full of Hoodoos. Rafiki got stabbed by an agave and the thorn punctured straight through his shoe and into his foot. Hopefully between soaking in hot springs soon and tweezers he can get the rest out.
More rolling trail, such a greener ecosystem and then a ridiculously steep climb. It felt almost vertical. Then a good mile or so of less steepness and one more straight shot to cap off the day. Bigfoot, Rafiki, Thatch, myself, and Moist right at dark all camped at the top, almost 8000 ft and tomorrow looks like a whole lot of descent but the trail gets to the Gila!
Mystery stream not on the map but so nice
Tired and sore, the end of today kicked my butt but was great. Looking forward to tomorrow and praying the threatening clouds stay threatening but don't actually rain on me tonight. Crossing my fingers...