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.
Undeterred by the long drive, Brenda T and Kimberly R-S from Silver City Hikers joined us for the hike.
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?.
The canyon walls rise up to form bewildering spires, voids and gnarled cliffs.
The ruddy hue is typical of volcanic tuff.
An ancient cottonwood makes a comfortable recliner.
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.
The water here is surprisingly deep and flowing along at a pretty good clip.
We crashed through the brush to a sunny beach that made a nice lunch spot.
Heading back up canyon.
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.
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.
Is it possible to die of happiness?