Next we got to drive down to the Gila as we were, after all, in the Donnelly Wash that takes you right there. This would make up for our lost opportunity to drive to Horseshoe Bend when we were at Rockinstraw.
Shortly we would be at the river crossing. I was surprised at how high the river was. You could see where a vehicle had driven across to the other side. Eric drove to the little island in the middle http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=238198
which evidently works as a campground too. We walked around a bit before heading back up the wash.
And then Hank chimes in, "Let's go check out the road that goes to the Cave". From the west part of the slope we could see what appeared to be a large cave and a road that would get pretty close to it. So we turned to the south and headed up the road. Well it started out pretty decently but that didn't last long 'til it was serious 4WD to get over this very rocky area
Fortunately, the road wasn't too long but the road that turned to the cave was relatively short... which would have meant for a longer hike than we thot to check out the cave. There is a turn around provided so we headed back to the rocky road, thru a gate and then up to a saddle where we got some closer views of the Gila River in the distance. We walked out on the point of the saddle and then down the south flank where we spotted bunches of poppies. It's a tough drive for a couple guys just to get a few photos of some poppies. The boys had their eyes open wide looking for poppies all day
Next it was back up the wash to Cochran Road where we hung a left and headed to Cochran. It is a beautiful drive on a fairly decent road. We did get to see the Coke Ovens from afar. It was particularly fun to drive through the tunnel of trees
. We stopped at one of the possible Gila crossings. This one was quite deep. The water seemed to be running high and fast. From there we made our way to the old Cochran town site. There is one section of the town site that is covered in teddy cholla. I got up on Eric's vehicle so I could capture the cholla and some of the White Canyon Wilderness.
It seems quite a long drive on Cochran Road back to the Kelvin Highway. It would have been even longer back in the day. Anyway, it was a great end to an already great day.
Video 1 - Driving the Donnelly Wash to the Gila River and back up the Wash to the first road going south at the bottom of South Butte to the Saddle to the southeast of the Butte: http://youtu.be/s0-bJlPSABk
Video 2 - From the saddle southeast of South Butte back to Donnelly Wash and then on Cochran Road to the intersection with Cochran town site where we got long-distance views of the Coke Ovens: http://youtu.be/GRUuwpS65JA
Video 3 - Cochran Road to past the town site along the river through the tunnel of trees including a stop at one of the potential crossings and then back to the Cochran town site: http://youtu.be/Vl9QNi5guCE