We find that the mesa is a most wonderful place once we get up there. It's a flat, straight and peaceful reprieve from yesterday's drama. I use the morning to listen to music and relax even though my legs still have to move. I'm all out of food except for three bars, which means that my pack is extra light and walking is almost effortless.
At the junction we have to choose between going down to a trail that requires fording the Gila several times (translation: wet feet and potential dense, overgrown terrain) or staying high to follow a horse trail. We stay high.
When the trail fizzles out I keep walking in the general direction of it, checking the GPS to see if I'm on track. When it reappears I don't see Mud's footprints in the dirt and wonder if he's still ahead. Maybe he got lost? Not likely... so I trek on and enjoy putting the trail puzzle together all by myself.
I wander out of the wilderness to a horse corral and a road. There's Mud, waiting. He thinks I'm going too slow today. Maybe I am, but I've been having fun.
We attempt to hitch the three miles from the Gila Visitor Center to Doc Campbell's store but cars are sparse and no one stops. So we continue on, feet pounding the pavement on the windy road. Mud goes ahead and I watch him get smaller and smaller until finally he disappears around a curve. Now it's just me.
When I get to the store Mud has already claimed a picnic table out front. I go inside and am bummed to find they don't even have a decent iced tea. They do have fresh picked apples, so that kind of makes up for it. Sitting back down at the table outside, a wave of exhaustion runs over me. I didn't realize how tired I was. That might explain why the past couple days have been so hard.
Mud and I wander down the street, past a pen of goats and over a dirt road to a hot springs retreat that holds promise of a bed and showers. We arrive to find the place empty except for the owner, who offers us a large straw-bail-adobe-hogan-house-yurt.
It's better than we could've ever dreamed up. Our very own adobe cabin and our very own hot springs! Someday we'll have a place just like this, but in Washington. It's shaded and quiet and we don't see another person the whole time we're there. We spend the rest of the day soaking in the springs, eating toast with chocolate and reading books. If it weren't for the fact that we didn't have any fresh food, we may have never left. We both fall asleep just after sunset and I don't move an inch until the sun returns, trickling light in from behind the curtains.
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