|Plains just north of the canyon entrance|
Pieces of my heart are in so many places around this incredible country of ours, that I don't know if I will ever have what is considered a "home" again. The latest place that felt like home was the Middle Fork of the Gila River. It came as a total surprise to me, especially since I heard the area was devastated by flooding this September. I entered the canyon feeling apprehensive, reminding myself to be patient, to expect low mileage days, to expect cold, wet feet, as the trail crosses the Middle Fork 100+ times during a 40 mile stretch.
|A fascinating pictograph. Above shows a small being holding what appears to be a large pine tree. Below a being holding a geometric pattern. What do they mean?|
While taking a hot shower underneath the small waterfall, suddenly a couple of hornets fell into my lap. I looked up to see several angry hornets buzzing wildly above my head. I jumped into the pool in front of me. I turned around to see an angry mob of hornets filling the air around the waterfall. As it turns out, I think the splashing water from sitting in the waterfall disturbed an underground hornets nest a couple of feet from the falls. Thankfully, the hornets were taking their rage out on the waterfall rather than me. The falls were the obvious winner in this battle. I had to laugh again at the sublime and the lethal, once again coexisting on the CDT. I had to vacate the hot springs before the hornets discovered who the real culprit was.
|Stones for grinding corn, corn cobs, and blades|
|An incredible pictograph of a mountain lion standing on two pyramids, triangles or pedestals. This painting was very large, perhaps as long as 12 feet or more?|
As I drifted off to sleep, the rain began to subside, the stars came out, and an almost full moon began to shine it's reflected light onto the canyon walls before me. To see the arch of the cave above my head, the stars below the arch, the shadows of the moon, the ancient man made storage rooms behind me, the sound of the Gila River below, the relaxation of my muscles from the soak in the hot springs a few hours before, the image of the pictographs still fresh in my mind: The universe seemed so much more mysterious and wonderful than I ever could have imagined in that moment.
|Handprints on far left along with other symbols.|
|Typical scene along trail and valley floor: Flood devastation|