The official doctor’s diagnosis — “Too much fun…”

As we age, remembrances get bigger, smaller, grander or just plain forgotten over time.

So it was with my recollection of my first trip to Whitewater Creek in the Gila Wilderness in the mid 1990s. I walked down a trail called “Gold Dust” to a section of water above the touristy Catwalk trail. I remember the hike as being rather long and hot, but the reward for the effort was great. I remember saying something in my fishing journal to the effect that i had “caught more fish in about two hours than I have ever caught.” All of them were tiny 6-inch rainbow/Gila hybrids who would instantly attack any fly you put on the water. I returned every one of them to the creek.

Fast forward to May 1, 2023. Margo, Chester our dog and I decided to try the same trail to the middle section of Whitewater Creek that had provided so many great memories before the Whitewater-Baldy fire 11 years ago virtually destroyed the watershed. Native Gila trout have now been planted all along the creek, but I have yet to catch one. So this was the day I was going to do it.

We got started on the Gold Dust trail about 9:45 and it was already hot. I quickly realized how much longer the trail was than I had remembered it 11 years ago. I also thought we had not brought enough water. When we turned a corner to view what looked like another two miles of trail, I became convinced we should turn back. Chester, who was thrilled to running around outdoors and covered three times as much territory as we did, was panting like an old steam locomotive and starting to limp — but still eager to go.

When we were almost back to our truck, two young athletic women who were stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, overtook us and said that while the creek was beautiful when they finally reached it, we were smart to give up the trek before the trail got incredibly steep during the last half mile. So we turned back, defeated.

Along the trail, I was amazed at the spectacular variety of wild flowers growing in dry rocky soil along the trail. Some of the flowers I spotted are shown in photos below.

And when we finally got back to the truck, Chester was limping even more. It turns out that he had run so much that he formed blisters on the middle pad of his two front legs and the skin was peeling off. We took him to the vet Monday and the doctor diagnosed the injury as “too much fun” and handed us a $135 bill for the visit. Below is a picture of Chester with his two wrapped front legs. He’s pretty much recovered by the time you will read this.

I think it looks like he’s wearing ballerina slippers…

So in the end, no fish were terrorized because we never cast a fly on the water, no flowers were picked and only Chester seems to have been temporarily inconvenienced. Hope you enjoy the video and some pictures:

Purple thistle with my shadow…
Cactus flower…
Indian paintbrush….
Delicate white flower

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