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  • Gillian Larson

Gila River


I had a truly awesome day on the trail today. I started with the horses at the Picket Post trailhead and rode to the Gila river. The whole way there I was on the lookout for the guys in the non-profit organization Heroes and Horses that I met the day before while out caching supplies for this next section. This is group dedicated to helping veterans through a program of wilderness riding. I had been following their "500 Mile Project" on social media for several months and knew that they were on their ride, but I never imagined we would end up on the same trail! Last I knew, they were riding in New Mexico, but they trailered into Arizona for the concluding section of their journey. I saw them on a dirt road as I drove by and recognized one of the horses from pictures that I had seen earlier, so I stopped in to introduce myself because I was curious if I would see them on the trail. We had a great chat and then I went on my merry way. As I learned later, one of the riders ended up having a collision with a mountain biker shortly after I left and had to be rushed to the hospital, so they got delayed and I unfortunately missed them on trail.

This section of the trail went through some beautiful canyons with dramatic rock formation, and it felt like we were in Zion (eventhough I haven't been to Utah, so I'm only basing that on what I have heard).

I also saw a gorgeous blue collared lizard in the morning that was the most colorful lizard I've ever seen. The Gila river was pretty darn impressive too and it took a while to find a place to cross that kept the water below my knees. The camping was better on the opposite bank, so I wanted to get the horses across, but the first couple of times that Shyla and I walked into the water from the bank, there was a very steep drop-off and the water was immediately up to my knees, so I turned her around. Takoda was content to stay put and watch us until we found a better crossing, then he followed along behind. I still got very wet feet though, but we made it safely. (check out my Instagram @thru-rider for a cool video of us crossing the Gila river!)

#wildlifeonthetrail #2017AZT