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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Gila Wilderness in October or November on 10/03/2010 16:43:51 MDT Print View

It looks like I'll be able to get four or five days off the last week of October and/or the first week or two of November. I was considering the Gila Wilderness area. If anyone is interested in going let me know. For anyone with experience in the area I was wondering about the following issues
1. Stream flow. If I'm solo I don't want to do sketchy fords. Alternatively not hauling all my water in would be nice.
2. Trails. I'm thinking about the West Fork of the Gila unless someone else has a better idea. I was thinking of staying low where it warmer and theres' more water.
3. Trailheads. I have a car not a jeep so I can't do rough roads and I want to avoid trailheads where I could get snowed in.
4. Gear. If its going to be mostly dry I was thinking about taking my poncho tarp. Is the Gila one of those "prickly" envirnments where this would be a bad idea?

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Gila Wilderness in October or November" on 10/03/2010 21:59:00 MDT Print View

Hey Luke,

Great place to spend a couple days, Gila is my preferred stomping grounds when I get out, tons of trail, variety, water, isolation, and great weather.

I think you'll be wise to stick with the West Fork and Middle Fork in late Oct. and Nov., it's all paved road up to the Gila Ranger Station, from there you can jump onto the West or Middle Fork as both waters converge there. Parking is free in that location, you should expect about 1.5 hr drive from Silver City, NM due to all of the slow and twisting roads taking you in. Don't worry about snow pack at trailheads, really don't worry much about snow in Oct. up there, it's not too common in the lower mesas and the Forks in terms of measurable accumulation. The Mogollon Range on the western half of the Gila are more susceptible to snowfall being higher up but are also doable as well, just be prepared for chilly evenings and a longer drive to the trailheads.

Fall in southern New Mexico is dry, precipitation isn't very prevalent; cool sunny days followed with cold crisp evenings. I'd expect to plan for temps in the 20's at the lowest, but definitely below freezing. Daytime temps somewhere in the 50's.

Gear wise, a poncho tarp is sufficient, unless of course the forecast indicates otherwise, but I've done 3 seasons of backpacking in the Gila throughout the wilderness area with nothing more than a solo tarp and a bivy and rarely find I need to pitch the tarp. With the exception of the monsoon season, days and evening are dry and planning for weather is fairly easy and predictable in the fall.

Call the Gila Ranger Station for current flow ratings, but typically, fall flow along the Forks is very light, as the monsoons are long gone, and no measurable amount of snow has fallen by then. Flow rates are really only a concern in the spring when snow run off makes for tricky crossings. Be prepared for over 100 crossings if you plan on going up far along the West or Middle. The high mesas are excellent bypass options if that doesn't sound fun to you.

Here's a trip report I did last spring on a trip taken along the West Fork and Middle Fork, might give you an idea of what you'll see:

Gila River-West and Middle Fork


Best of luck!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Gila Wilderness in October or November on 10/03/2010 22:39:14 MDT Print View

Thanks a lot for all the info Eugene. Actually it was that trip report of yours that got me interested in the Gila in the first place. I assumed the river crossings wouldn't be too big a problem since as you mentioned your trip was in spring. I just assumed it would be smart to ask. Hope it works out, your trip report made me drool.

Edited by Cameron on 10/03/2010 22:40:22 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Gila Wilderness in October or November" on 10/03/2010 23:02:56 MDT Print View

Sure thing Luke. Let me know if you have any questions, or feel free to PM me. If you're coming through Las Cruces on your way in or out let me know, I can treat you to some local Mexican food for a post hike lard load up.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
On the way! Anyone care to join me? on 10/29/2010 20:28:19 MDT Print View

Well this week didn't work out for my Gila trip so I'm heading up Sunday. I should be on the trail the 1-3 of next week and may a half day on the 4th. I'm planning the West Fork of the Gila and than over to the Middle fork and back. I might modify depending on whether I like the mesas or the canyons better.
Anybody in the area want to jump on board just let me know. Eugene if you're out there how easy are the trails to follow? I have a set of printed maps that aren't that detailed. Unless someone tells me the trails are really well marked I'm going to stop at a ranger station first thing Monday and get some USGS maps.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Gila Wilderness in October or November on 10/29/2010 21:14:26 MDT Print View

Wish I could go. I've always wanted to go there.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Sigh on 10/30/2010 23:43:56 MDT Print View

Maybe next time Joe (hopefully this won't be my only trip). I'll try and threw up a trip report when I get back.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Success! on 11/08/2010 17:40:32 MST Print View

I just got back from the Gila. It was an awesome trip, all my excpectations where met or exceeded. My only regret was that I had to come home. I wish I could have stayed out at least two more nights. Thanks for the help ya'll, thats why I love BPL.
I've got a trip report, Eugene I need to do a photo matching post sometime. I think in a few cases we took basically the same picture.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Gila Wilderness in October or November" on 11/08/2010 18:25:50 MST Print View

Good to hear from you Luke, I was thinking about you the other day when it was the temps were in the upper 70's and sunny, probably a perfect 50's for you up there. It is beautiful country in the Gila, all too often overlooked. Looking forward to your photos.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Photos on 11/08/2010 19:54:22 MST Print View

Photos should be up. I posted them seperately under trip reports.