Gila Wilderness Backpacking
I've recently started the planning stage for my 2006 spring break backpacking trip. I have decided to check out the Gila Wildernes and ere is some advice I have received from the backpacking community online regarding that area so far:
For a 5 to 6 day trip w/o a shuttle I suggest to start at the Visitor center/cliff dwellings, go up the west fork for two days until Hell's hole or if you are really fast White Creek. From here cross over to the Middle fork to the Meadows. you can stay at Prior's cabin as a way stop. From the meadows go down to Jordon's Hot Springs which are real nice though could be a little hotter. You can soak here into the night. Tis is a really nice hot springs. From here its an easy out to the corrals and your vehicle.
Lots of the trails follow the riverbeds, so any flooding will make them impassible. You'll have to watch the temperatures and stream guages to get an idea whether run off from snowmelt is beginning.
So, in Gila, understand that along any of the river trails, all you can really hope for is maybe a mile to a mile and a half per hour. You will spend a lot of time handling the stream crossings safely, since they are so darn frequent (30 crossings or more in a mile of trail..ack!!!). There were also a few washouts, and downed big trees from a previous flash flood, made for some fun Wilderness Gymnastics experiments...
Here is one of the routes that I am considering for my spring break trip to the Gila Wilderness. Click on map to enlarge.
There will be almost 100 river crossings on this route and you can go to this USGS site to check Gila River levels. Luckily there is no snow to swell the rivers. Here is a chart showing the snow pack for the region...Nothing in the Gila...
The following is a 3d map looking West Northwest up the West and Middle Forks of the Gila River. It gives a good impression of the layout of the land. The one peak there is Lilley Mountain with the rest of the Mogollon Mountains beyond that. It would be nice to do a peak ascent on Lilley, but that will depend upon the amount of time we have and snow.