Sunday, January 13, 2013

P4W2 Day 8 Roosevelt - Safford, AZ 93 miles

Day 8 was a tough slog through nondescript high desert in eastern Arizona.  A persistent 10 mph headwind bit into me all day, and the temperature struggled to get above 40 after a nighttime low around 10 F.  I tried to make that nasty wind turn to another direction, to no avail.   I managed to make the ride puncture-free through the glass and trash-lined US 70 through the Apache Reservation.

Later in the day I finally crossed the Gila River.  The scenery improved in the river valley.  The Gila is one of those desert rivers that is the 'life of the party' as far as desert wildlife is concerned.   My floating trips down other desert rivers in Montana  - including the Blackfoot and Bighorn - have shown that the desert river corridor possesses an abundance of wildlife.  Many waterfowl and owl sightings are near-guarantees in such a water oasis.  So, it is no coincidence that I saw many flocks of ducks during my last 30 miles of pedaling today, when I stayed within a mile of the river.  And here I was high enough above the big southwest cities that the Gila still flows a bit, before it gets sucked off for multiple uses.   I was also fortunate enough to see my first peregrine of the trip.  Its proximity to the Gila River suggested that it had been preying on waterfowl this winter. Other raptor sightings including kestrels, a harriers hawk, and red tailed hawks.   

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