Archives for category: Gila Wilderness
View of Pelona Peak up the eastern draw

Overview:

A gently rising shield volcano, Pelona Mountain borders the Plains of St. Agustin and lies within the broader Mogollon-Datil Volcanic Field. This off-trail desert ramble crosses dry grassland and ascends volcanic terrain, a challenge to plainsmen and mountaineers alike. The route shown here goes only to the base of the summit block. (An earlier ankle injury forced a turn-back). The remaining 200 feet of altitude poses little difficulty for experienced navigators.

Driving Directions:

Gila Wilderness from NM-163
  • Drive to Socorro, NM on Interstate-25 (I-25)
    • If you are coming from the north (e.g. from Albuquerque) 
      • Take Exit 150 from I-25.
      • After 0.4 miles on the off ramp, at the stop light on the ramp end, go straight ahead onto California Street.
      • After 1.3 miles on California St, at a stoplight, go right onto Spring St.
    • If you are coming from the south (e.g. from Las Cruces)
      • Take Exit 147 from I-25.
      • After 0.7 miles the ramp “invisibly” segues onto California Street, reset your odometer as you go past the first gas station.
      • After 0.6 miles on California St, at a stop light, turn left onto Spring Street.
  • After 0.6 miles on Spring St, at the first stop sign, go left onto US-60 West (signed).
  • After 45.8 miles on US-60, a short distance past mile-marker 93, turn left onto NM-52 South
    • The intersection is well signed and includes a sign for “National Radio Observatory”. 
    • NM-52 is paved for 2.5 miles, to the junction with NM-166 (shown as Old Highway 60 on Google maps). Past the junction it immediately turns to gravel. The gravel road is currently in excellent condition
  • After 21.4 mile on NM-52 S, past mile marker 37, turn right onto NM-163.
    • This intersection is clearly signed and includes a sign for Beaverhead / Mogollon.
    • NM-163 is less well maintained, but still family-sedan friendly. There are patches where the roadbed has suffered during wet conditions and you will need to travel slowly.
    • after 23.9 miles you will enter the Gila National Forest (signed).
  • After 31 miles on NM-163, right across the road from mile-marker 31, pull off the road and park the car.

Trailhead:

Trailhead (“31” on far side of road)

The trailhead is a field on the south side of NM-163. You recognize it by the mile-marker “31” sign, although check your odometer carefully in case the sign gets wiped out. Along most of its length NM-163 was very well ditched. It was a pleasant surprise to find an existing set of tracks that smoothly crossed the ditch and rose onto the field. These tracks do not look permanent, however. In other years you may need to search a bit in order to find a suitable place to pull off the road. If you drive a low-slung sedan then bring a shovel. You might need to smooth-out the departure point. There are no services at this trailhead. Nor, for that matter, is there a trail.

Data:

This map has some issues. The yellow line shows the GPS track from the car up onto the mountain. At that point my GPS turned itself off (a first). Consequently, the orange line represents a “route” that I have sketched to the best of my recollection. That ends at the blue line, where I finally turned the GPS back on and recorded a real track on the way back to the car.

  • Starting elevation: 7230 feet
  • Ending elevation: 8860 feet
  • Net elevation: 1630 feet
  • Distance: 12.3 miles
  • Magnetic declination: 9˚ E

Hike Description:

X-braced power stauntion

From the trailhead ascend directly up the canyon wall, an open, moderately-inclined grassland slope. At the canyon rim look for a set of power lines in the foreground and the green-capped summit of Pelona peak dominating the horizon. Shield volcanoes have a broad and gently-sloped profile, akin to a shield that has been left flat on the ground. Head straight towards the mountain top. As you pass under the power line make note of the power line stauntion that you pass. Looking around you will see that most stauntions have X-style bracing, including the one you are next to. But, the next stauntion to to the east does not – a beacon for returning scramblers.

Stove barrel

At first the ground presents little in the way of rocky rubble to snare a foot. Soon, however, come to a barbed wire fence demarking the Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area. There are no gates, so pass over or under or between the wires, then drop into a small and steep-sided canyon. Suddenly, rocks abound. This hike irregularly cycles between good footing and awful footing, a wearying feature. Scout the bottom of the canyon and you may find a rusty oil barrel that has been cut in half. A close-up view shows that someone once used the half-barrel as a stove. Cut directly across the canyon bottom and ascend the far wall. At the rim you will regain sight of the peak.

Landmarks: boulders at end of wash, a stony “lip” on the ridge above

It is a straight shot to that peak, the straight line drops into a few side-cuts that feed the canyon and eventually rises to a broad, dry grassland. Once past the canyon there are remarkably few local navigation clues. On ascent I made careful note of a wash with a distinctive cluster of boulders at its upper end, just below a ridge surmounted by a steep and rocky “lip”. To a plainsman this should be enough. It is obvious that I’m not a plainsman; I missed this landmark on return. A whiteout would make it very difficult to navigate. If the weather is not perfect then a compass bearing on the mountain acts as navigation assurance.

Elk hiding near lone juniper

Wildlife abounds. Raptors soar, elk roam and a surprising population of field mice scuttle through the grasses. There are tracks for deer, although they remained shyly out of sight. The elk seem especially tame, barely bothering to scatter when I walked within a quarter mile. This remote location may limit their exposure to hunters.


Snowy Mogollon Mts from eastern rib

As you approach the forest-green summit will peek down at you from between two grassy ribs. It should be possible to walk straight up the draw between these two ribs, but on this date I chose to make a loop by entering the draw and then rising up the foothill at the end of the east rib (to your right on ascent). The steep hillside was thick with rocks. This complicated the prolonged side-hilling ascent – you may want to consider an ascent directly up the wash to the summit. Scramblers who climb this hill are rewarded with great views. Look southwest into the snow covered Mogollon Mountains, south into the broad expanse of the Gila National Forest and southeast to the Black Range.

Snowy terrain over the CDT canyon, San Agustin Plains in distance

Drop from the hill and follow the main rib as it bops over a series of knobs and knolls. The terrain is open and navigation is easy. Eventually you will reach the rim of a canyon between you and the summit. Going west (left on ascent) would follow the rim to a saddle due south of Pelona summit. I recommend you take that path. On this date, however, I dropped into the canyon to meet up with the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The north-facing canyon wall exhibited a thick and steep cover of snow. This is where my ankle remembered a recent insult and started plaguing me. At the bottom of the canyon is a barbed wire fence. The CDT follow the fence and is further marked by tall 4-by-4 posts. It proved easy to follow even with the snow.

The trail rises back to a saddle at the base of the summit block. At this point my GPS turned itself off and my phone battery died, adding insult to an injury (ankle). It seemed like a sign to turn back. Make loop by descending into the draw west of the ascent draw. A mellow rib makes the hiking easy. In the draw bottom there is a ranch road. Follow it south to the end of the loop but do not follow the road when it turns west. Instead, contour around the rib to the east and rejoin the ascent wash, turning south to return to the car.

Recommendations:

This scramble offers a nice day’s outing, unusual navigation challenges and a pleasant ridge ramble. I am slightly ambivalent about recommending it because of the length of the drive. The “bang per mile” is on the low side. If you live close by, such as Socorro or Reserve, then I can gladly recommend it. If you live a tad further and feel the need to escape the grind, but are bored of your regular mountain haunts, then give Pelona Mountain a shot.

Navigation challenges were moderate on this date but they could become severe. My experience is testimony to the fallible nature of electronics. Right at the start my eTrex and my inReach GPS devices had low batteries (fortunately, I had backups). Then my eTrex turned off up high. Then, my cell phone ran out of power. That is why, in the Data section above, I give the magnetic declination for the first time on this blog. Bring a map and a compass and the skillset needed to use them.

The footing on this scramble was notably uncertain. Boots would help.

Links:

If you would prefer to hike into Pelona Mountain on the Continental Divide Trail then the BLM suggests driving just 14.5 miles on NM-163 and parking at a small pullout. If I’m reading the Guthook app correctly, then you would hike 12.5 miles (one way) to reach the summit block of Pelona Mountain. The footing would probably be better!

That’s about it. There are quite a few references to the Sierra Pelona Mountains, but those are in California! I had expected to see more from CDT through-hikers who often journal their experiences. Most of those folks, however, choose to hike the Gila River alternative rather than the official trail going over Pelona.

Overview:

This could be the most beautiful hike in New Mexico.

High sediment loads in the San Francisco River can give the water a muddy coloration. Don’t be put off! The hike remains gorgeous.

Stay away if the weather looks stormy. Flash flooding is a real risk.

Driving Directions:

  • Drive to Socorro, NM on Interstate-25 (I-25)
  • If you are coming from the north (e.g. from Albuquerque) 
    • Take Exit 150.
    • After 0.4 miles on the off ramp, at the stop light on the ramp end, go straight ahead onto California Street.
    • After 1.3 miles on California St, at a stoplight, go right onto Spring St.
  • If you are coming from the south (e.g. from Las Cruces)
    • Take Exit 147
    • After 0.7 miles the ramp “invisibly” segues onto California Street, reset your odometer as you go past the first gas station.
    • After 0.6 miles on California St, at a stop light, turn left onto Spring Street.
  • After 0.6 miles on Spring St, at the first stop sign, go left onto US-60.
  • After 62.2 miles on US-60, at a blinking yellow light in Datil, NM, turn left onto NM-12 (well signed).
FR-49 is just past this sign
  • After 61.7 miles on NM-12, past mile marker 13 and immediately after the “JTS Park 6” sign, turn right onto Forest Road 49 (gravel)
    • [there is a sign 50 feet down FR-49 (rendered illegible by gun-toting idiots) that seems to identify this road as County Road 113]
  • After 0.4 miles on FR-49, immediately past a small brown Forest Service sign saying “49”, make a hard left turn onto Forest Road 41 (unsigned).
  • After 4.4 miles on FR-41 come to the first ford of the San Francisco River. If you want to leave your car here then there is a rough turn-out on the right side of the road. In nice weather many cars can drive the remaining 1.7 miles to the official trailhead. Know the perils!

Trailhead:

RuTwo on the dirt turnout

The turn-out just before the first ford of the San Francisco River is a weed-covered dirt pad raised a few inches above the road. If you are driving a low-slung car then driving up onto the dirt pad may be awkward. A shovel could be handy if you should need to grade the lip of the rise, especially if a county bulldozer recently been through. There are no services at this trailhead.

Data:

  • high point: 6505
  • low point: 5900 
  • net elevation change: 610 feet
  • distance: 7.1 miles (one way!)

GPS signal gets badly scrambled in the confines of this deep canyon, so the data given above should be treated as rough estimates. Note that wading deep pools and clambering over boulders can make the trip more stressful than the numbers might suggest.

Hike Description:

Road walk in open valley

The first ford of the river was only 6 inches deep and roughly 15 feet wide on this date. The firm sand in the streambed showed little risk of bogging your vehicle if you choose to drive across. A scattering of river stones slightly upstream of the crossing might allow you to make the ford dry footed. This is an exceptionally pleasant road ramble. The six river crossings offer a minor challenge and the terrain is gorgeous. Deep debris fields surround the San Francisco Mountains and the river has etched into these bajadas, leaving tall walls of stony composite that peek at you over the tops of hardwood trees. There was a surprising population of runners and mountain bikers. It would be hard to find a more pleasant training ground.

Well said.

At 1.7 miles arrive at the official trailhead for Trail #762. A kiosk reminds hikers of “bear country” concerns and a second sign warns sternly of flash flooding risk. Head up the trail as it switchbacks onto the bajada top. Single-seed juniper and pinyon pine offer patches of shade. Prickly pear, columnar cacti and banana yucca threaten to poke you. Grama grass blankets the occasional meadow. Lizards and horned toads scurry from your footfall. The tread initially moves northeast; away from the river and avoiding private property bounds. At 3.4 miles from turnout the trail abruptly turns west (to your left, inbound) and traverses towards the canyon entrance. The trail goes through two gates (please close ’em!). At 4.7 miles the tread makes a sharp switchback and begins the steep drop to the river bottom.

Sign at junction with two-track

At 5.2 miles the trail reaches a junction with a two-track. Note the sign so you will know where to depart from the road on your return. Turn right and follow the two track as it leaves the sunny Sonoran and penetrates the leafy domain of the bosque.

Pipe suspended over the river

In a few hundred feet you will see a large rusty pipe (about 12 inches in diameter) fronted by a sign saying “private property”. Begin scanning to your left to find a track that drops down to the river bank and goes underneath the pipe. On the river bank the trail becomes hard to find. Go upstream, about 30 yards past the pipe, then cross to the left-hand bank (looking upstream). The trail stays on that side for less than a quarter mile, then recrosses to the right-hand bank. If you loose the trail just continue upstream.

Entering the Box

The trail departs from the river to cross a wide meadow, then rejoins where the river makes a broad bend to the north. Here the walls begin to rise and press in. Soon there is little or no bank on which to make a trail. Oh ohh. Plunge in. The river is the tread. There is no fixed turn-back point. Hike until your turn-around time arrives. If you need a destination then other reports indicate that there is a warm spring about two miles beyond my turn-back point.

Recommendations:

Author at turn-back point

Take your time. This is not a hike to be rushed!

Bring a great camera. My cell phone camera was not up to the task of recording this amazing trip.

Ice could make this a dangerous and unpleasant trip. Similarly, meltwater from mountain snows could introduce your party to hypothermia. Schedule the hike for the warm weather just-before or just-after New Mexico’s monsoon season.

Monitor the forecast for Luna, NM (upstream) for storms in this area. If you drive over the fords to the trailhead, then even a gently rising stream might prevent you from driving out. A stash of extra food, dry clothing and a good book might make the wait more pleasant.

Soaked boots can get heavy. This hike calls for fast-drying (not “water proof”) shoes. Your electronics need to be protected. Ziplock bags can keep your GPS and phone functioning. On this date I was able to stay (mostly) dry, but only after rolling up the legs of my shorts as high as they could go. Others have reported swimming in order to cross the deeper pools.

I was very happy to have a water filter with me on this hike.

Links:

I’m not certain why the river is so deeply brown. It is possible that char from wildfires is being washed down the stream. Back in 2011 the enormous Wallow wildfire burned the headwaters of the river (south and west of Alpine, AZ), but that seems like a long time ago. We’ve had an active monsoon, so runoff from the rains may contribute as well.

The USDA/Forest Service site has general information and safety alerts. In New Mexico summers it is always useful to check for wildfire warnings.

Doug Scott’s site (a go-to destination for slot canyon hikes) has great maps and some warnings about the seasons to avoid for this hike. One of the maps shows an alternative route that keeps you east of the river until you reach Devil’s canyon (a tributary feeding into the San Francisco River above the Frisco Box). You could return down the river and make a loop out of it.

Sadly, I saw no fish larger than inch-long fry. The restocking efforts might have suffered a setback from the large amounts of suspended sediment. Hopefully the drought is about over, allowing matters to improve.

View of San Mateo Mountains from the Black Range ridge

Overview:

This three-day, out-and-back, backpacking route follows the Continental Divide Trail along northern spine of the Black Range. The grade is gentle, access is easy and the views traverse most of mid-state New Mexico. Hiking the fire-wracked Black Range sounds daunting, but the trail possesses an uncanny knack for threading the dark green patches that survived the flames. Even the devastated slopes exhibit a budding green haze from colonizing aspen groves.

The title has an asterisk next to “Diamond Peak”. It makes me grumpy, but time was short and water in the Diamond Peak Spring was scant. I turned back at the spring rather than climbing to the nearby summit. A pity!

Driving Directions:

  • From Interstate-25 (north-bound or south-bound) take Exit 89 to NM-181.
  • At the end of the ramp turn west onto NM-181-South. (North-bound travelers will turn left. South-bound travelers will turn right).
  • After ~0.2 miles, from a stop sign at a T-intersection, turn left to continue on NM-181-South.
  • After 2.9 miles go right onto NM-52 (well signed)
  • After 38.0 miles turn left onto NM-59 (well signed)
  • After 13.8 miles turn left onto a Forest Service trailhead (signed)

All roads are paved. There are numerous small depressions along NM-59 where the road crosses arroyos, signed “Dip”. The savagely eroded road-margins in these dips are a threat. Watch your passenger side tires.

On NM-59 you will go over the geologic Continental Divide, which is signed. There is a turn-out on the left side of the road, but that is NOT the trailhead. You need to stay on the road for the full 13.8 miles. To the best of my recollection there’s roughly a half-mile from the geological Continental Divide to the CDT trailhead.

Trailhead:

The Mighty Camry at the CDT trailhead on NM-59

The trailhead is a gravel parking pad with a vault toilet. There are no water services or trash receptacles. The pullout sees lots of people pulling trailers and they need to be able to drive the full circle around the vault toilet in order to exit. Please leave as much clearance for them as you can.

Data:

IMPORTANT: my GPS device flatlined on this hike. Instead of being a GPS track the above map shows a trace of the CDT from Caltopo. There may be significant deviations from the actual trail!

  • starting elevation: 7702 feet
  • highest elevation: 9648 feet
  • net elevation: 1946 feet
  • distance: 26.1 miles (one way)

Hike Description:

Burned trunks and sparse understory

Day 1

Follow the trail south from the trailhead. On this date an extremely kind “trail angel” provided 10 full gallons of water. These are intended for CDT thru-hikers. We weekend backpackers should leave them alone.

The initial mile rises in a forest of young and severely burned ponderosa pines. Either the fire was unimaginably hot or a forest crew has been through and manually cleared out the remaining fuel from the forest floor. There are almost no burned logs on the ground. You do not see the crowded, bushy understory that normally springs up after a fire. It has the atmosphere of a forest singularly protected against the next major burn.

Spring feed tank

As the trail continues to rise mountain mahogany and gray oak do make an appearance. The terrain offers convoluted testimony to the ingenuity of trail designers – it is a minor miracle that the grade rises at such a steady rate. In places there are short drops where surprising groves of Douglas firs shade the tread. Much of the tread follows a barbed wire fence. At 5.3 miles from the trailhead come to a broad and sandy flat spot on the ridgeline. Look to your left for a gate in the fence with yellow signs asking, “Please Close Gate”. Water is available if you go through the gate and follow a side trail 0.3 miles down to a spring that drains into a small open tank. On this date the water was cold and free of algae, if slightly murky. Filtering is recommended.

Trick Tank or flying saucer?

Views open to the east. The Cuchillo Negros Range (Spanish for “black knife”) form a small ridge between the Black Range and the massive cliff faces on Vicks Peak in the San Mateo Mountains. At 8.7 miles from the trailhead the trail reaches a high point for the day, about 8700 feet. From there the trail bumps downward, reaching Forest Road 226A at 11.5 miles. You will see this road through the trees as you descend towards it – at this position you might want to scout about 100 feet off-trail to the northwest. There is a trick tank there. (A trick tank is one that collects rain water). On this date there was about 8 inches of water in the tank, thick with algae but still suitable for filtering.

Brutally weathered sign (left) and trail gate (right)

Across the FR-226A the tread descends along a closed road and enters a long, skinny valley crowded with trees. Doug fir and Ponderosa grow here, along with a conifer that produces an exceptionally large cone – possibly a Rocky Mountain Pine. Near the end of the valley someone has carved “CDT” and a left arrow into a huge standing snag. Go past the snag and follow the white-and-blue CDT signs as the trail climbs out of the valley. Near the top of the rise the trail joins another road. Go left onto the road as it reaches and then descends into the Chloride Creek drainage. The descent slogs along a rutted road – not foot-friendly. The road levels out where a feeder stream stream crosses from the left to the right side. An old and brutally weathered sign stands mutely on the right side of the road. A close look will show a CDT insignia branded into the lower left corner.Here the CDT starts an overlap with the Catalenia trail, #42. Go off the road, through a gate and follow the track as it meanders along side the stream.

Ruins of a shelter

The trail turns uphill where a second feeder stream joins in, about a quarter mile past the sign. This stream lies at the bottom of a narrow canyon, but the canyon bottom has occasional places where it flattens out and camp sites are available. On this date the stream was intermittent, but there were pools of water four or more inches deep, particularly at on the lower stretches. There is evidence under foot that cows like this cool and well-watered place. Filter your water. A crumbling chimney standing alone in the forest testifies that cowhands also once sheltered in this canyon. At 17.1 miles from the trailhead, near the upper reaches of the canyon and the last of the canyon pools, find a level spot for camping.

Caledonia sign with out CDT markers? A warning!

Day 2.

From the campsite climb steeply out of the canyon on switchbacks. The severely burned terrain could be unsettling, but a transition from carbon black back to green is under way. Budding young aspen colonies lead the way. The trail contours around a bump on the ridge then climbs to a saddle. In that saddle the Caledonia Trail splits away from the CDT and drops into a spectacularly beautiful, but entirely off-route, canyon. I lost a couple miles that way and it put me behind for the day – you are advised to stick with the CDT! And why not? This is ridge line hiking at its best. To the east lie the San Mateo Mountains, to the west snow still clings to the high summits in the Mogollon Mountains. On the ridge itself, 22 miles from the trailhead, lies the vertical walls of Fisherman’s Bluff.

A longer stretch of burned terrain on the Black Range

The damage done by the Silver Fire should not be understated. There are a few stretches of badly burned terrain that are grim and much plagued by deadfall. The trail builders have done their best to minimize the length of these stretches and, it must be said, that the recent winter hit the healthy patches of fir and ponderosa hard. Many fallen trees still have green needles on their branches. This is no place to wait out a wind storm.

Diamond Spring: a shallow skim of water from a muddy seep.

At 26.1 miles from the trailhead come to a wonderfully verdant hillside with a notable barrier of green-needled deadfall heaped across the trail. In the middle of the jumble is a sign of four lines saying, “Diamond Peak / Spring Mt. / Diamond Cr. / South Diamond Cr. Tr”. Above this jumble you will see a vertical rock wall. Look at the foot of the rock wall to find a boot-beaten path heading uphill. Follow this for roughly 40 feet and you find the Diamond Peak Spring. This is actually a seep; a mass of wet, black mud slowly releasing water onto the slopes below. I needed the water but I didn’t have the time to accumulate it from this slow flow. If you haven’t made the navigation errors I did then you will probably have time to ascend the next half mile of trail to the summit of Diamond Peak. From there you could continue south to reach Reeds Peak and even test out the new leg of the CDT where it descends from Reeds Meadow down Black Canyon Creek. Or, if the day wanes, you can hike back to camp and from there return to the trailhead.

Recommendations:

Author enjoying a crisp late-April morning

The 2018-2019 winter season was unusually good for snow and rain. Water may be much harder to find in other years. You can get hints on the locations and conditions of various water sources at the CDT Water Report. These are social media reports and (for the Black Range) regrettably few in number. They carry no guarantees. You must assess the risks as you go along. The designations for springs and streams arise from the Bear Creek Survey. A sample of their work can be found here. Their designations (like “10_236WR”) are explained on page vii. A critical map of the trail “segments” (those initial numerals in the designation) is presented on page iii.

EDIT: Inaki Diaz de Etura, a 2019 CDT thru-hiker, reported on Facebook that he found water in October along this section of trail. The first spring (at 5.3 miles), the trick tank, and the stream along side Catalina Trail all had water (although the stream was just “pools”, not running). Moreover, after he passed Diamond Peak Spring and got to Reeds Meadow (further down trail than discussed in the guide above) he found running water in Black Canyon and Aspen Canyon. That’s good to know if you are planning a hike later in the season. Keep in mind that the monsoon was productive in 2019 – in dryer years the water may be more elusive.

There is an app for navigating the CDT that I should mention (this is an unpaid endorsement). It is called “Guthook” after the trail name of it’s author. You can find links to it from the publisher, Atlas Guides. The app shows you a map of the trail and your currently position – navigation made astonishingly simple! Plus it has a social media aspect, including water reports from other Guthook users. As an old-school “paper map navigator” I initially resisted using the app. While hiking the CDT last year that resistance crumbled immediately.

On windy mornings the ridges were cold and on windless afternoons the trail was hot. You will want good gear. Hiking the ridges during monsoon season would be challenging – you will need “bug out plans” for dealing with thunderstorms.

Links:

A post in Mudtribe reports on how the longstanding drought is affecting western trails, including the CDT. It was written in 2018, a bad summer for finding water.

One of the few through hikers to record their experiences in the Black Mountains is cu.ri0.us. He seems to have hiked the CDT several times and offers a retrospective video that includes a comparison between the Columbus NM route and the Lordsburg NM route (two choices at the southern terminus of the CDT). He has also done both the Black Range and the Gila River alternative. Most northbound hikers going onto the Black Range follow the official CDT as it leaves directly from Silver City. In sharp contrast, cu.ri0.us chose to hitchhike to the crest of the Black Range, taking NM-152 to Emory Pass. The Silver Fire (2013) hit that region hard and it imposed some very tough conditions on his hike.

Almost all the existing reports mentioning the Black Range leg of the CDT do so only to say that they the author decided to take the Gila River alternative. If you know of other reports, or if you’d like to describe your own experience, then please use the Comments tool below. If you don’t see an option for making a comment then click on the title for this report. That will re-format the report and the comment section should appear at the bottom.