We headed north to the Gila to scout the route for a hike we're leading later this month. On a whim — and at the last minute — we packed enough extra gear to allow us to spend the night.
We checked out the EE Canyon Loop, which includes pieces of the Granny Mountain and West Fork Trails. But fires have burned most of the forest cover
in this area, and it's a long uphill slog with some nice distant views, but not much else to recommend it.
We turned back about half way around and headed for homemade ice cream at Doc Campbell's.
We decided to camp early, and settled into a nice spot on Old Military Road.
With a leisurely start the next morning, we wandered along the Gila River in search of a small hot springs we last visited 10 years ago.
It surely was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the 70s and brilliant Fall colors (by Southwestern standards).
The spring is — fortunately — very well hidden now, but we walked right to it.
The pool was larger and far more lush than when we last saw it.
It's fed by several small streams that appear to flow out of some nearby caves
A flame skimmer at the hot springs.
Most of the summer wildflowers are gone now, but the chamisa (aka rabbitbrush) was glowing yellow and attracting lots of butterflies, including this West Coast Lady.
Clouded Sulphur Butterfly on a Chamisa bush.
The river is still flowing plenty strong, with countless knee- to thigh-deep crossings.
We saw just one other person the whole day, and she was on a mule leading another horse, with a younger untethered horse obediently trailing behind.