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Gila River Backpack
March 25 - 26, 2023
by Michael Humphrey
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by Michael H
group A
Trailblazers backpacking on the Arizona Trail.
Nancy, Jan, John, Terri , Debbie, Michael.

Six hearty trailblazers met and drove to the Kearny parking lot on an early Saturday and easily found a parking spot. One of the group was doing a though hike of the Az trail, so we pick him up at Picketpost. The weather was mild and we quickly shed layers as we proceeded on the Az trail Passage 16. The flower were out in force and as we walked the trail they changed in type and color.

Many types of flowers. [photo by Michael]
Flowers A
Many more flowers. [photo by Michael]

Passage 16 was the last Passage of the Az trial to get done. This passage has the "golden spike". It shows the day the north and south parts of the Az trail were joined. The Az trail has had other parts moved or redone, but Passage 16 was the last full passage. The water in the Gila River made many land holders that needed to agree on where the passage would go.

The group taking a rest by the Golden Spike. [photo by Michael]
The Golden Spike. [photo by Debbie]

After the Golden Spike, it is time to go down hill to our first rest spot. This is a steep down hill that on the way back we will have to go up. You quickly get to a point where you can see the old railroad bridge. It just takes awhile to get down to it. This bride is still in use by the railroad.

The old railroad bridge that marks the 3 mile point. [photo by Debbie]
Creasted Saguaro. [photo by Debbie]

Time to continue on down the trail. This next 3 miles is mostly flat. The down into the gulleys and then back up is trying. The flowers contine in grat beds. It is interresting how one area is good for one type of flower and next to there is a totally different flower.

Different type of flower. [photo by Debbie]
Flowers under the Saguaro. [photo by Debbie]

We now pass under the power lines which mark our next rest spot. We spot the train pulling some locamotives up to the mine. No freight on that train. This shows why you have to be carefull around the tracks. The engineer does not expect to see poeple, so will stop 0.5 miles after the train hits you.

Train on the tracks. [photo by Michael]

We make it down to the gulley. This is also where we exit the Az trail and walk down to the Gila river. We follow the gulley a short distance until we get to the fence. There is a gate hidden on the bank of the gulley. We find a clearing with a fire ring and wood pre built. There is nice shade by the river. There is plenty of places to sit here. The river is running very high. Some years I have been able to walk across and maybe get the bottom of my boot wet. This year the current is running very hard, so no crossing today.

Gila river running very full. [photo by Debbie]

We setup our camp site. Filter water from the Gila and it taste great. There is plenty of room for all our tents. We eat our lunch/ snacks by the river. The shade here is great. Later we boil water for dinner and put some wood into the fire ring. After dinner we light the fire. With the sun down the temperature drops, so the fire feels good. Everyone goes to bed and we put out the fire. In the morning there is some ice in the pans, so it got to freezing. Everyone had a good nights sleep, with the sleeping bags keeping everyone warm. We heat water for breakfast and pack up camp. Time to head back to the cars.
John heads toward Picketpost to get another 2 passages done.

The flowers are in banks as we leave. [photo by Michael]
Flowers. [photo by Debbie]

The flowers are everywhere. We slowly get back to the railroad bridge and that is a rest stop. Also time for more flower pictures. Next is the last big up hill and then down to the cars. After we get to the cars it is time for pizza in Kearny. It is pizza made on the spot. The old pizza ovens date from when Kearny was started.

Flower and catiti mixed together. [photo by Debbie]
Field of flowers by the trail. [photo by Michael]
Flowers with the trees of the Gila. [photo by Debbie]
Looking north into the desert. [photo by Debbie]
Flowers come in many different colors. [photo by Debbie]
Flowers come in many different shapes. [photo by Debbie]
Gate next to the parking lot.
Note: these links are temporary. Look at the pictures while you can.

→   More pictures, by Debbie
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona updated May 2, 2023
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