Purgatory Chasm, Gila National Forest
After consuming a large Cinnabon cinnamon roll each, we felt an intense hike would be in our best interest. We loaded up the dog team and headed east. The 1-hour drive took an hour and forty-five minutes due to a slow moving RV who was unwilling to pull off and allow the traffic to pass. The dogs were mighty grateful by the time we finally pulled off the road, parked and released them.
Purgatory Chasm is a great hike that nobody ever seems to go on, except for us. The parking area is discrete in that it looks like merely a pull-off to allow traffic to pass. The semi-secret trail crosses a few washes, passes a sign that reads “Warning – Beware of Flash Floods” and then continues through a beautiful pine forest. After about twenty minutes, the trail hits a fork, allowing the hiker to go either way around the loop trail. We like to go right, which heads up a steep hillside, plateaus on the mountain top and then descends into the rock canyon.
The rest of the hike is in the canyon. We could not find the trail during our first visit and we accidentally headed upstream for about an hour before we decided the loop trail was never going to reappear. We now know that as soon as we enter the canyon, we head downstream immediately, hike in the water and on the rocks, and eventually the trail reappears sometime before the fork.
We like to take the loop counterclockwise because it gets all the hard stuff out of the way first, and it ends the hike in the water. The dogs are always thirsty and hot by then, so it’s the perfect reward.
During our visit yesterday, the water was nearly dried up. We will have to bring the water dish in the car for future hikes; at least until monsoon season when the rivers and streams start running again. We have often thought of training them to carry their own water so that it is with us during the duration of the hike. It looks like there are lots of backpack options, like this one or this one. Another thought, instead of our big water dish, is to bring a collapsible one, like this bowl. Based on the reviews, it seems both tools have a loyal following in the hiker crowd.
We were focused on speed yesterday in order to burn off some of our sugar high. The pictures below are from our previous two visits, in January and March.
January 16, 2017 – Our first visit to Purgatory Chasm. Note the thick coat and running water.
The beginning and end of the trail runs through the forest.
March 19, 2017 – During our second visit, the canyon was much more manageable. It was easy to walk in the creek but avoid the water. And it was the first time we found this (rather deep) pool.
Aside from the mega pool shown above, the water was shallower and less frequent during our March visit. Sydney had to make due with mini-dips. Note the shorts – At over 6,000 feet elevation in the middle of March, you might expect there to be snow. But no! That’s the magic of high desert living.