Mile 284, hanging valley in the Superstitions

A hot hike today along the Gila River, winding for 15 miles in and out of washes, up and down over bluffs and ridges.
The heat is wearing. I find it harder to hike 20 miles in the Arizona desert than 25 miles in the Sierras or Rockies, despite a relatively gentle trail.

The valley of the Gila

Went down to the river at Rincon Wash and met up with Nemo and Trek. We quickly stripped down to our skivvies and jumped into the cold silty river. After days of drip springs and cattle troughs, so much water seemed a luxury indeed. Best of all I washed out my shirt, caked with the dirt and sweat of the last 80 miles.

Cooling off

But the river could not provide a truly thirst- quenching drink. Drinking warm water with various degrees of scum and silt day after day has changed my fantasies from sandwiches to ice-cold sparkling drinks. Sodas, cold beer, even plain old water that is cold and pure would be a delight. The water here keeps you alive but still thirsty.

But water is not why one comes to hike the AZT. Right now I am camped in a magnificent bowl of a hidden valley a thousand feet above the Gila. Its sides are lined with very green saguaros and blooming ocotillos. A green ribbon of mesquites lines the valley bottom. And the rim of the bowl is formed by torn ridges on the east side, and rhyolite monoliths on the west. One of these is a good 300 feet in height, maybe 150 in diameter, almost perfectly cylindrical. It is a wonder that would be a great attraction in any reasonably accessible place. Here it is unnamed, at least on my map.
That’s what I’m here for: the wonders, not the water.

Day fades from a high desert valley