No trout this time, just spectacular scenery…

Sheer walls in Mineral Creek Canyon, Gila National Forest

I participated in a Trout Unlimited project last weekend in the Gila, helping to garner support for the region by introducing new people to fly fishing. A group of five of us, four from TU and our one “student” hiked up Mineral Creek canyon to try to catch Gila trout on a fly rod. Everyone seemed to be successful in catching the trout but me. I had to leave early and didn’t make it further up the creek where the fish seemed to be more receptive to a fly cast into the clear waters of this unexpected creek. 

See if you can spot our dog Chester in this photo

Every time I go into the Gila, I am amazed at how such a lush microclimate is able to thrive in a narrow rock canyon in close proximity to an arid landscape with cactus and stunted juniper growing on sheer cliffs just a few feet above the water in the creek. 

On this trip, I discovered something I had not seen on my previous hikes up the canyon. A natural arch in the rocks on the south side of the rim. 

Natural arch on south rim of Mineral Creek canyon
Telephoto of natural arch

And in the early 1900s, this area was bursting with mining activities. Many remnants of the mining boom, including old pieces of equipment and holes dug into rocks are still visible in rusting and rotting formats. On this trip, I found the remains of an old safe, its front door missing. I wonder how much labor was involved in originally transporting it to the mining camp and how a powerful rush of flood water shoved it down the canyon. 

Mining camp safe abandoned in Mineral Creek. Not too secure these days.

So no trout this trip, but still well worth the drive. Take some time to explore the Gila — it’s truly a fascinating place. And next trip, I guarantee a Gila trout. Maybe more than one.

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