Continental Divide Trail #6: Hot Springs and 200 River Crossings

Porter entering the Gila wilderness


Porter entered the Gila Wilderness with considerable trepidation–ten days of solo navigating of flood-damaged canyons. He had to cross the Gila River more than 200 times, often in fast current.

Gila River





Amber & Gail in hotsprings


Meanwhile, Amber contemplated joining Gail in the Riverbend Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences, NM.

Amber meditates by Rio Grande





She opted to meditate in a flower pot overlooking the Rio Grande instead.


29 comments on “Continental Divide Trail #6: Hot Springs and 200 River Crossings

  1. Gail–that’s some crazy number of Gila River crossings! Friends who just finished Trail of Grand Enchantment spoke of many leg numbing Gila River crossings too. Good to see Porter made it safely through. He looks cold in the first photo. Or is that protection from UV rays? My husband, FROST, is on his way up the CDT hoping to do a zero day in Silver City on Thursday at The Palace Hotel. Enjoying the photos and your posts.

    • Ina, the air was cold, especially at night, but the Gila was cool and not frigid. Porter’s shoes froze overnight when they stayed wet from Gila crossings. He’s trading out his 20-degree sleeping bag for a 15-degree bag that’s also slightly bigger and will allow him to wear a down jacket inside it. FROST will love Silver City. Highly recommend the Little Toad Brewery just down the street for good food but there are several excellent restaurants–Diane’s Restaurant and Tre Rosat. Also a great deli with fantastic breads, cheeses, coffee, pastries called Diane’s Cafe and Deli, I think. I hope we get to meet FROST on our respective journeys, I’m guessing we will. Also guessing that FROST knows to be very careful not to sit on anything thorny, that’s been an issue where even the weeds out here have thorns and they’re not always obvious.

      • YES- FROST mentioned he has the scratches/marks from numerous encounters with thorns! I’ll pass on your eatery recommendations. I understand that depending on the depth of snow in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado, hikers do a “flip-flop” – come back and finish that deep snow section through CO at the end of the thru-hike. But FROST has 100s of miles to go before he gets to CO border-so that decision may not be an issue.

        I’d like to share a friends long distance hiking blog-which I think you’ll enjoy. Her freezing water crossing was in West Fork of the Gila River in Arizona.

    • Congratulations to Porter on the dry and wet crossings. He is now on the trail I helped build a couple of years ago in MalPais. It makes me happy to think of him there, Gail, I hope that you are visiting the big arch in that area and the visitor’s center. There are also lots of shards and wall art and ruins in the area. Lots of broad vistas for expanding your meditation. Big hugs to you both and a small one for Amber. Pat

      • Wow, Pat, thanks so much for helping build the trail in MalPais! Porter will love to know that. Thanks also for the heads-up about the big arch and artifacts, I plan a hike tomorrow. Hugs from all three of us to you too!

    • Hi Gail, so glad to hear that Porter is doing well, although I’m sure the erosion and multiple crossing threw a little “hitch in his get up”. I love seeing the photo’s of you and Amber at the hot springs and down by the Rio Grand. my husband Del is from Espanola (originally Guyana up North just beyond lake Abique resevoir). Such a beautiful and mystical area, and the contrasts of colors are magnificent at dawn and dusk.
      I’m home and healing slowly from my hip replacement. Thankfully, Del is here to help with showering, food, ice packs, etc. I hate being stationary, but I realize I need to acquiesce as I certainly don’t want to jeporadize the recovery. I look forward to your wonderful posts and comments. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us all. Sincerely, Andrea

      • Andrea, I’ve been thinking of you with your hip replacement and am so glad you’re healing, even if slowly. I miss all of you at Aqua fitness. I’ve been getting in the Holiday Inn Express pool and find that in addition to running and calisthenics, etc. I love the monkey-crawl around the perimeter of the pool–great for arm strength! Will keep your hip recovery in my meditations. Hugs, Gail

  2. Wow. What a view behind Porter and crossing the river over 200 times. I’m comforted by the fact that he is strong and tall. Also wondering what the ‘Consequence’ would be in the name of the town… I hope Porter gets to soak in in the hot spring too! Great energy, you three!

    • Sue, yes, it’s good Porter is experienced in crossing river currents! He almost lost one of his trekking poles but caught it in time. Thanks for your encouragement about our energy–that means a lot, coming from you with your extraordinary insight into how energy works.

    • Thanks, Jan, and I just dropped off Porter in the desert SW of the El Malpais National Conservation Area. No water apparent anywhere, so I’ll be picking him up regularly to resupply him with water. The New Mexico landscape is incredibly gorgeous here in a different way from the other parts we’ve visited. Love to you and Bill from Porter and me, Gail

    • Dear Queen Jerrie, Thank you for your amazement, I amaze myself all the time, bless my heart! Please give my kindest regards to the Great Danes, who continue to amaze me as well. Love, Amber

  3. Two hundred (200!) river crossings! No wonder he entered the Gila Wilderness with trepidation. Smart! I’m sure that he and you are both relieved that this particular stretch is behind him. Amber, of course, is too cool to show any emotion at all. Thanks for keep us posted.

  4. Your post made me shiver, even while sitting in my office. I turned up the heat and will definitely get into the hot tub tonight, dip dedicated to your intrepid trio.

  5. Hi Gail, Any way to post a detailed route map (possibly by section) and refer to Porter’s position
    on the map(s) at the the time of your new posts? Others might find this helpful as well. The internet seems
    to be lacking good maps of the CDT through New Mexico. Happy Earth Day. Michael

    • Michael, Porter and I considered that but it proved challenging. The thru-hikers, including Porter, are cobbling together all manner of routes because the “official” CDT route doesn’t make sense in lots of places (and often includes miles and miles of paved road walks, too hard on Porter’s feet). Porter (and I when I need to find and pick him up from the usual unmarked trailhead at a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere) is using his phone to follow the Guthook GPS map which offers several of the routes. At each resupply stop, Porter figures out (mostly from the Jonathan Ley maps) afresh which route he’ll follow, whether a piece of the official CDT or one of the many alternates (e.g. “the Gila alternate route” as opposed to going through the Black Mtns.). Sounds as if you know something about the CDT through NM–have you or are you planning to hike it? If so, I recommend you join the CDT 2015 group on Facebook, very helpful.

      • Gail, Thanks for the info.!
        When in my teens I attempted the CDT from north to south.
        And I’m very interested in how Porter does going south to north.

        • That’s fascinating, Michael, that you attempted the CDT from north to south in your teens! Maybe when we get back in late September you and Porter can talk about the routes. The CDT seems very much a trail in progress. ;-D

  6. Gail, yeow—the extremes! Two hundred river crossings & hot springs. I’ll take the hot springs every time! While cheering Porter on . . .

    I’ve had my head down, working on establishing a bicycle campsite for touring cycles coming through our little Montana berg, and I missed your last post. But I remember those gross stock tanks and feeling sorry for the poor cows, not to mention the hikers and desperate border hoppers. We’ve got similar pictures. How any filter can make that potable is beyond me. Engages my gag reflex.

    I think Amber is longing for a polka-dotted bikini.


    • Kathleen, I’m so grateful to you for suggesting the Riverbend Hot Springs to me–I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that or Truth or Consequences for the world! My favorite stop so far by far. Thanks also for suggesting I visit the Bosque National Wildlife Refuge–I enjoyed that too! Good for you for working on a bicycle campsite for touring cyclists–that would be welcome, I’m sure!

      • Somewhere in the great expanse north of Pie Town and south of Chama, Porter might find his own ghost hot pool. Patrick remembers reading in a CDT logbook in one of the post offices that a hiker, trundling along early in the day, ran into a rancher in a PU, and then, later that afternoon, found—in the middle of nowhere—a galvanized tub, full of hot water, just waiting for him. Maybe only a “story” but tell Porter to watch for the bathtub angel.

  7. I was born in New Mexico and that southwest desert is so special to me. I wish I was out there with him. For about two miles. Then I’d wish I was with Gail and Amber.

  8. I’m so happy to hear Porter is using The guthook GPS map

    I’m not sure what it is but it sounds good and very earthy

    Tom o

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