Monday, June 27, 2016
Day 13: The Meadows to Snow Lake
Eighty-five crossings. Twenty-one miles. One long day.
Squishing into sodden shoes, we packed up at dawn. The pale pink clouds to the east faded as golden light warmed the western canyon wall.
Above The Meadows, the canyon narrowed. We bounced back and forth from one side of the river to the other like pinballs. Sometimes we hiked only 10 yards before crossing back over to the other side. Occasionally we just stayed in the river, rejoining the trail when it reappeared.
Several families of ducklings frolicked on the water. Wild turkeys and great blue heron fed nearby. Two young elk eyed us warily, then raced into the woods. Deer bounded across the river as we approached.
We ducked into a shady cave for lunch to avoid the scorching sun. An hour later, dark clouds towered overhead, blocking the sun. A strong gust of wind dropped the temperature 10 degrees, thunder rumbled nearby, and the rain began. We waded across to a rocky cave for shelter, but soon continued up the trail. The irony of wearing rain gear to stay dry while wading through a river was not lost on us.
We played hide and go seek with the trail all day. The trail repeatedly disappeared into rocky cliffs, walls of thick willows, or thickets of poison ivy. All the while we remained distracted by the incredible beauty of the canyon: the lush green plants, the colorful wildflowers, the spires and towers on top of the vertical cliffs of the canyon walls, the meandering river teeming with fish, frogs, and invertebrates, the countless animals and birds.
Nevertheless, I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally climbed out into the wide open spaces of the rolling hills surrounding Snow Lake. The Gila was incredible, and we definitely want to go back when we have more time to explore.
Posted by Heather and Sierra at 8:16 PM