Mountain Classroom: Backpacking in Gila

Posted by Mountain Classroom

02/08/2015

After a rainy adjunct weekend with Ross in Tucson, Arizona, we left the enormous cacti behind and headed back to New Mexico for a three night backpacking trip in the Gila National Forest.  After a day’s drive, we were welcomed by a much chillier camp ground in Silver City, NM. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

After our first and only night in Silver City, we left for the Gila National Forest, where we were taught how to ration food, follow topographical maps and pack our packs for multiple nights.  It took effort and patience from everyone in our group, but by the end of the afternoon, we were prepared to leave early the next morning to hike to our campsite near the natural hot springs.

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

With the sun beating down on our backs, and a few of us under the weather, we hiked a bit more slowly than usual and made it to our camp spot just as the shadows were starting to fall down on our river bank.  After Dani taught us a quick lesson in backcountry hygiene, Peter and Coco showed us how to make dinner on our backcountry stoves.  We ate with the moonrise lighting up the spires and our sun hardened faces. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

The chilly morning sucked away a lot of our energy. However, determined and faithful, we would attempt to make our way to some secret hot springs. Peter once visited these springs on his Mountain trip. Because of the earlier rains, we knew, and had to be comfortable with the uncertainty, that the river may be too high to cross. David led us and with lots of energy we crossed the blood-curdling river fourteen times. 

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

Proctor Academy Mountain Classroom

proctor academy mountain classroom

When we arrived at the hot springs, we were instantly calmed, and felt the energy of the earth warming us at 95 degrees. We learned a powerful lesson about "dividing and conquering” and split the group into two to get back. Our success was evident when we cut the time into two thirds of what it took us to get there. Our evening fire was circled by many boots craftily placed on sticks and stones to form a drying rack, unfortunately only some would be dry and not frozen the next morning.

-Isabella and Cooper

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