I tell ya - life is good. This trip is like extra whipped cream on your pumpkin pie - it just makes it that much more perfect!
Friday night we drove out to camp near the cliff dwellings. You know how you forget something on every trip? Like your headlamp or spare socks or a hat? Well...this time I forgot the bag that had all of my clothing!
Time for a quick change in plans! We camped instead at the McMillan CG, closer to Silver City. Early in the AM, I got up and drove in to the 24hr super Wallyworld and did the best I could to gear up. I got some jems, let me tell you (including a jacket that could double as a stuffed animal!)
So, Saturday morning, we hit the trail, me disguised as a technicolor hobo, but eager for trail time! The hike up to the saddle was very warm, and we got a good sweat going. We started to wonder if a hot spring was going to be all that appealing! However, once we descended into shady Little Bear Canyon, the day got down right perfect. All the way to the campsite it was oohs and aaahs at the amazing fall colors and blooming bunch grasses. I think even Lilo the trail dog was impressed.
We saw no one at all on the hike in, and when we arrived at the hot springs camp area, we found it quiet, clean and deserted. Fall leaves made a beautiful blanket over everything, and the afternoon sun lit the place like a cathedral. I hung my hammock over a small warm spring, thinking to steal a little extra warmth from momma nature... Then, we all went and got in the fantastic hot tub for some awesome soaking action.
The night was just brisk and not cold - enjoyed a sensible campfire. Just before dark, another party arrived to camp nearby and enjoy the springs, but that was the only company we had for the entire trip - which in this popular location is unusual. Their little tiny dogs had to be carried across each of the 15 river crossings on the way to the springs. That takes some dedication, I tell you.
Hike out was equally fantastic. Counted a total of 45 river crossings on the way back to the visitor center. About 3 miles from the end, a storm began to brew at the head of the canyon and hurried our feet with it's constant rumbling and grumbling (one of my companions had been struck by lightning only 3 weeks before). By the time we got to the parking area, however, it fizzled into nothing. The storms and systems blowing about in the area gave us a heck of a show on the ride home - complete with lightning and towering thunderheads lit by the sunset.
And people ask my why I do this every other weekend. If only they knew!