Gila River Alternative Mile 38
I got to the bottom of some windy switch backs and found a river which I proceeded to follow upstream — thinking it was the Gila. I knew that I had a lot of water crossings ahead of me so when the river cut me off I stepped right in and splashed across. I foraged my way through thick brush and multiple river crossings following what vaguely resembled a trail. I double checked my maps and it turned out I was not on the right river! Frustrated and about a mile off course I turned around and hiked back as quick as I could. A couple repeat river crossings later I was stopped in my tracks and staring eye to eye with a mountain lion! Before seeing her, I saw two mountain kitties flash across the trail. Momma and I, startled, eyed each other up from a respectably safe distance. Needless to say I was intimidated and I walked as far around that spot as I could once she sauntered off. I could hear the cats — they weren't quite meowing, not purring. They sounded like they were playing but making the oddest sounds. I'm so lucky to have spotted one so close in the wild — they're quite elusive creatures.
So yeah, I saw a mountain lion and two kitties in a narrow river canyon! Bad ass.
That was definitely the highlight of the day. The rest consisted of wading through thigh deep rushing water. Maybe 50 some odd crossings before I got up to Doc Campbells 18 miles later only to find it closed.