Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gilas, Fire, and Broken Nipples

So Dusty came in from Texas. We got blanked on Apache, caught a handful of tiny Gila, my truck broke down, and we almost got burned up by fire.

This weekend was rough. I have two cards left to go through. Here are some shots and story from my first pass after being chased out of the Gila Wilderness.

The Gila Wilderness Area is 3million acres. Black Canyon Creek has native strain Gila trout, one of the only few handfuls of native populations left. The way down to the creek is 4x4 only trail 47 miles off pavement. We arrived late Friday night in time to camp and throw a few casts. A poor showing for our first couple hours on the creek we caught a total of fifteen inches of Gila trout, divided over three fish.

The first morning we wake up to smoke and find out that night a fire had started a couple ridges over cutting our trip short. Exactly one mile into our trip out of the canyon, the nipple on the coolant repository snaps in my Land Rover. The system is pressurized and forces the engine to overheat immediately. Spewing coolant everywhere we stop one mile up the trail with fire behind us.

Duct tape, a pen, and Hard as nails we rig together a make-shift nipple that allows us to hold pressure for two mile stents. Every two miles we need to stop and fill the repository with more water to replace what is seeping out of our imperfect contraption. When we run out of water we take turns peeing into our radiator. Ten hours later we have managed to limp out of the wilderness area and onto a paved road inside Gila National Park.
A Forestry service truck on their way to check the fire, see’s us and stops.

I photographed our entire survival and process. Unfortunately, one of the last strains of Gilas may not be so lucky if the fire dumps silt into the creek. It is entirely possible that my friend Dusty and I are the last two people who will ever fish native Gilas from Black Canyon Creek. That thought saddens me deeply.

The upside is, I got to burry my head in my son’s hair and breathe deeply one more time.

I will post more tonight on our weekend in the dirt, with pictures to follow.


Brett Colvin said...

Glad you're OK brother, that's a harrowing story. Peeing and fire... reminds me of Holland. Really nice shots too.

Aaron said...

Thanks man. It was a trip indeed. Dusty made it easy, by keeping his cool and meing such a layed back level headed guy.

I didn't have to manage anyone's emotions besides my own. Tell you what that was hard during it, but not as hard as the $6k bill I just piad to order the right plates to fix the Rover.... ugh

Ward W said...

You get into some sick adventures... and ouch on the bill, it will be nice to head back out with confidence in your ride though. Can't wait to see more

Linda said...

Thanks for the wonderful photos of the Gila. Was the poor showing of fish due to the lack of rain this season? I always enjoy reading blogs about our area - looking forward to more from you!

Aaron said...

Thanks Ward. She's good to go now. Wallet is a bit light, but good to go.


Find myself over there a lot. Let me know if you're ever around. We could wet a line or grab a beer.