Another great trip to the Gila, this time accompanied by Sredfield. Started hiking at a balmy around 30 degrees at the TH, nice to start wading in a river. Went up the Gila a short ways then up the magical Turkey Creek. Beautiful canyon with woodlands, pockets of red maples, the stream running over red lava rock beds. Camped night one in here, fairly cold but nothing terrible. Weather overall was absolutely wonderful. Second day up and out of Turkey Creek over to Miller spring and the cabin. Here is where things started to go awry, our TOPO and GPS information didn't jive with the trail on the ground. Miller Springs has a neat little cabin in a great setting. We were on our way over Granny mtn to then return down the Gila.
There was absolutely no trail to follow going out from the cabin area, despite signage. The GPS was not too helpful, nor the TOPO maps, the Gila Wilderness map hinted at a reroute but didn't have a lot of detail. So we slogged up a ridge, cut over, came close to turning around and found a very old cairn and a vague track that looked like a run off gully. We followed.
We had seen a couple of backpackers the day before on the reverse of our loop, the only humans we would see this trip. We saw a few footprints so knew we were on the right path.
The trail faded in and out, lots of deadfall, bushwacking. We dry camped in a saddle about a mile from the cabin after some steep uphill and route finding. I was nervous as Shawn noted a fire burning some distance from us across the Gila. It was a prescribed burn we later found out. It filled the valley with smoke the next day, but it didn't bother us much. The next day we only had a short amount of the climb left over Granny mtn, the trail still recalcitrant, but improved markedly on the other downhill side. We were now in manzanita, PJ and oak terrain, where we had been in the pines before.
Wildlife so far, deer, an owl, a tarantula at 7000 feet, a large alligator lizard.
We made it to the Gila to be greeted by gorgeous Sycamores in full golds and oranges. We now had about 20 miles down the river. We made it a few miles then camped, wading was fun and interesting in sometimes fast water in general knee to upper thigh deep, crystal clear.
Where large banks formed a good trail in beautiful woodlands could be found, along with amazing amounts of poison ivy.
The night was fun when I scared off a large roaming bull, then later when I answered a call of nature saw a bear. Shawn claims he slept through it all.
We got out the next day, after doing about 14 miles, along the river with many crossings, hiking over cobble, and bushwacking. The Gila is broad and glowing with good health of a strong river through here. So nice to see instead of a broad bed of sand. As usual, I plan to go back.