After a flood debris wraps around standing trees, 30 feet off the ground. Animals leave tracks through flood plains. Four foot diameter trees sprawl out in a canyon.
A local elk hunter told us this was the year of a hundred year flood event. There were wild fires that tore through the drainages around the Gila River Canyon. When the rains came this year the water poured into the canyons. A volunteer with the park service said the river rose 9 feet on 15 minutes.
There is a section in the Gila between Snow Lake and the fork that takes you to the West Fork of the Gila, it’s notorious for the number of crossings, we heard between 70 and 85 over 21 miles. We crossed 111 times.
The trail was destroyed by the floods so we picked our way through the debris. It was slow going.
We wanted to want to continue along the river. It is a beautiful place, but it tore us up. We opted to take the fork out of the canyon which spit us out near the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Nomadic people have used that particular cliff area for temporary residence for thousands of years. In 1270 a group of people spiffed it up and created actual homes out of sandstone. They left in 1300 during the time of a mass migration and major drought and after all sorts of people moved through, stayed, left and the dwellings remained. It is a neat place.
We walked the road along the Trail of Mountain Spirits, a scenic byway that is rather pleasant aside from being paved. We met Lucky’s friend Bams and had a couple beers and nutter butters on the side of the road partaking in hikertrash talk. He is a chef at a small restaurant/ brewery, and was nice to talk to.
It’s just under a week to go and not so many miles to Mexico.
We are ready to be done.