18.5 miles (29.8km)
Gila River Camp II (213.7) to Gila River III Camp (232.2)
I woke to distant flashes of lightning. It was 1am. The sky above was clear and the stars were bright. I woke early and set off before the others were out of their tents. My destination was the Jorden Hot Springs.
On route the trail crossed the Gila River many times. But the trail was fairly well used. The high cliffs were stunning. Jagged with many honeycomb spires. Birds of prey circled above. It was difficult to speed through this section of gorge.
I had Jorden Hot Springs to myself for about 20 minutes. Crunchmaster and Spontaneous arrived. The hot springs were hot but I must admit that in this cold day I would have preferred them to be hotter. We soaked our tired muscles. Getting out was not an enjoyable experience. It was cool.
For the next 6 hours I hiked alone. Just my own thoughts in my head. I passed eroded hoodoos that reminded me of Bryce Canyon. I wondered at the height of the flood water during the rainy season. Debris was littered up to 10 meters (30ft) above me at times.
I spent maybe two hours having rest breaks. The others had not caught up. I was not moving particularly fast. Though the constant rock hopping and river crossings were tiresome.
At 6pm I set up camp at the only flat looking spot. 30 minutes or so later they arrived. They could have been extras in a zombie movie. Slow moving. Feet dragging. A look on their faces like a stunned mullet. “It’s good to see you Shepherd. Food. I’m done”, they uttered with the least amount of energy possible. I must admit they looked worn out. The CDT whipped them both today. I didn’t want to admit to them that I felt fine. I still had huge reserves of energy. Most of which will be used to keep me warm tonight. By 8pm I’m freezing and wrapped up in my sleeping bag.
Oh, and Crunchmaster counted all the river crossings today. 120. That’s a total of 194 crossings of the Gila River.