Box Canyon

December 4, 2021

Two years ago while exploring in the vicinity of Gila Lower Box, we peeked into a canyon and wondered if it would be possible to make our way down. But the cliffs were pretty steep, so we followed the canyon upstream on a topo map and then just set off down the nearest sandy wash to see what we could see. Little did we imagine what wonders awaited us. But it was late in the day, so we only made it partway to the Gila River. It's been on my list ever since, and an unusual 70-degree day in early December was the perfect opportunity.

deep pool among the rocks

Undeterred by the long drive, Brenda T and Kimberly R-S from Silver City Hikers joined us for the hike.

sculptured white rocks

As with most canyons, we descend through several different layers of rock, beginning with rough conglomerate, and then blossoming into beautifully sculptured white rock — tuff?.

descending a steep drop

Going down!

view down the canyon

The canyon walls rise up to form bewildering spires, voids and gnarled cliffs.

weird rock formations

The ruddy hue is typical of volcanic tuff.

reclining on a giant cottonwood

An ancient cottonwood makes a comfortable recliner.

arriving at the mouth of the canyon

And suddenly the canyon emptied into the Gila, and we were walking on a carpet of leaves under a canopy of enormous cottonwoods and sycamores.

checking the water depth

The water here is surprisingly deep and flowing along at a pretty good clip.

a beach on the Gila

We crashed through the brush to a sunny beach that made a nice lunch spot.

view from above

Heading back up canyon.

golden cottonwoods line the banks of the Gila

Dennis and I planned to camp out that night somewhere along the Gila. Following a two-rut track, we ended up on a high knoll with a commanding view.

unsettled evening sky

We stayed outside as long as possible. There was a veil of virga dangling above the sunset, light breeze ruffling the sides of the camper, and good glass of pinot noir in my hand. A group of about 30 cranes just flew very high overhead, their strange chortle audible for miles.

brilliant sunset

Is it possible to die of happiness?