The original plan was to explore the Gila River. The Miller Fire shut down that option, though. So this is what we did...
Day 1: I'm Too Sexy For This Catwalk.
After leaving a car at the Deloche Canyon trail, we headed to the Catwalk. My friend hadn't been there before, and I knew he'd like it. He doesn't like heights on man-made structures (like fire towers!, believe it or not) so I told him that the Catwalk didn't get above say 15 feet above the water. Yeah, I lied. He was blown away by the canyon surrounding the Catwalk, and I was eager to see what the trail did beyond the Catwalk and let me say this: It's uphill, and a lot of it is dry. Oh, and did I mention that it was south-facing. So the heat was killing me. I was ready to see/play/splash in the water. The way the Falcon Guide puts it, it sounds like the water should be near the Gila Wilderness sign, which was at 3 miles. But I'd say it was around 4.5 miles to the water, and we found a place to camp shortly thereafter.
Day 2: Relaxation Time.
We wanted to get to the Deloche Canyon trail the day before, but that wasn't in the works with that heat. So we found an excellent spot about a quarter-mile from the trail intersection to camp. We got a late start, so my initial plan to do Grouse Mountain on Day 2 didn't work out. My friend broke out a six pack of IPA, but he did so without asking me and I, sadly, cannot drink IPAs. Just one sip spells instant heartburn for me. So I stuck to my tequila, and he drank nearly the entire sixer (one went down the night before). Other highlights of the day - playing in the water, taking a shower (I've never done that before on a backpacking trip!), and playing Rummy. There was a couple of people that said they saw a bear 15 minutes up the trail, we trotted that direction for about 15 minutes and didn't see it. We did make sure, as usual, that our food was well-secured up a tree.
Day 3: Aaaachooo!
It was time to get out of the canyon and head back to civilization.
Of course with all that consumption the night before, we didn't get that early of a start. My allergies were KILLING ME as we headed out on the Deloche Canyon Trail. And as we made our way out to the ridge, quite a bit of the trail is VERY narrow with steep sides, so one wrong footfall could've been deadly.
As you know, when one sneezes, it is impossible to keep the eyes (which were itchy to start with) open. Anyway, it was slow going. I couldn't hardly breathe with my allergies, and I may have been just a little hung over. Up at the ridge, the views were incredible. It was worth every bit of it. We made it back to the car, then down the winding road to civilization. What a beautiful weekend!