Taking the high road . . .
Today was a long day, over 30 miles. The CDT in this stretch has two options, one being a single track trail that has very little water called the high route because it travels above the Gila river, and the second option being to simply travel down the river, fording from one bank to the other in a steep rock walled canyon.
Hikers almost always choose the river option as it is incredibly scenic, has plenty of water available obviously, and even has hot springs along the way. However for the horses I was concerned about the difficulty of riding 30 miles on smooth river rocks and bush-whacking on the shore line. So I decided to take the less popular high route. It ended up being much more scenic than I had anticipated so in the end I was very happy with my choice. The trail even looked down at the Middle Fork Gila for a time and provided some wonderful vantage points to see just how vast the Gila National Forest is.
I didn't arrive at camp until just after dark at 8:30. I was camping at a trailhead where there was promise of horse corrals and a faucet. This was a great set up for Shyla and Takoda, but not so much for myself. The only place to camp was right outside of the corrals in the parking lot. I didn't even set up a tent, but simply laid down a tarp, sleeping pad, and my quilt. I certainly got some odd looks in the morning from day hikers arriving to the trailhead. No one decided to approach the homeless horse packer, however, which was fine by me.