Endless P Summer

11/2/19…..Hayduke Day 37…..14 miles

I think someone camping nearby in Mather Campground was having night terrors last night or they were screaming at the top of their lungs at 4:30 in the morning for a legitimate reason. Either way I didn’t check it out or get back to sleep.

From the South Rim the Hayduke follows the South and North Kaibab Trails through the main corridor of the canyon back up onto the Kaibab Plateau on the North Rim. Normally the Hayduke goes along the Plateau then drops back into Saddle Canyon on Northwestern part of the GC. Because of an active fire closure near Swamp Point there’s a reroute that requires almost an extra day of walking roads on the Plateau before dropping back into the Canyon.

Last year while on the Arizona Trail, QB and I went Rim to Rim of the Canyon but this time decided to get a later start and eat a full breakfast before leaving. We started downhill with heavy packs around 10 am with hordes of other people. After a few miles it thinned out and soon we were nearing the river. From about a mile away and a ton of switchbacks up we could see 4 blue boats beached near the bridge we’d soon cross and wondered if it was our friends who gave us a ride the other day. Of course it was. We’re all on much different schedules and hiking along the river and floating it are far different lengths so the chances are low that we’d be crossing back over during the hour that they’d stop for lunch. Everybody else was surprised, I wasn’t.

We carried on up the North Kaibab Trail and stopped shortly at Phantom Ranch. The next half dozen miles are pretty cruiser and have just a slight elevation gain so we whipped through those then took a side trail over to Ribbon Falls for a quick swim. After that little field trip we were within a mile of Cottonwood CG where we had a permit to camp for the night.

11/3/19…..Hayduke Day 38…..26 miles

We broke camp and walked a mile up canyon to Manzanita Rest which is our last reliable water source for potentially 50+ miles. I left there with almost 9 liters of water and 6 days of food. It felt like I was carrying a Volkswagen. From Manzanita the North Kaibab Trail climbs nearly 4000 feet in 5 miles on nice wide groomed trail. It was a stiff climb but QB and I kind of crushed it. The views were spectacular, walking up the North Rim you can see all the colors of the canyon and look back and see across to the South Rim and even Humphrey’s Peak way in the distance. In the trailhead parking lot we met Karla working for Wildland Adventure Trekking company and she hooked us up with some apple juice, chips, and another liter of water each that we guzzled on the spot.

For the next 20 miles we walked dirt roads across the Kaibab Plateau within GCNP. It was a peaceful 20 miles through a pretty forest full of ponderosas and aspens but with the wicked heavy packs it was a bit of a slog. Tonight we’re camped on the border of National Park and National Forest land, never even saw a car out there today on these roads.

11/4/19…..Hayduke Day 39…..27 miles

“Here’s the great thing about the Southwest, there’s so much more than desert. Along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a forest as lush as you’ve ever seen.”

-Deangelo Vickers

Not exactly, but still it’s a big forest.

It was so cold this morning! Overnight it was chilly and as we got going the temperatures seemed to plummet for the next couple hours. The road kept bringing us through gullies and the sun took forever to get above the trees. Our water bottles froze and my coffee drink turned to slush. And then it warmed up and just like that we were super comfortable.

From where we camped we walked 22 more miles of forest roads until finally getting to Monument Point and the edge of the Canyon once again(still never saw a car). Before dropping in we could see to the northwest side of the GC, across the Arizona Strip, and all the way to Zion National Park(I think). We took the Bill Hall Trail that zigzagged steeply down about a thousand feet to the Thunder River Trail. This trail cut across a huge flat red rock area for a few miles before dropping steeply down another thousand feet. We found a spot to camp just before sunset and amazingly are so much warmer down in the canyon. Probably won’t even use the fly on the tent tonight.

11/5/19…..Hayduke Day 40…..19 miles(12 hiked, 7 rafted)

In the first few miles today we dropped almost 2000 feet and soon were at Deer Creek. This was our first reliable water source in 54 miles(the longest water carry I can ever remember doing). We followed Deer Creek as it flows about another mile to the Colorado River. During this mile it cuts deep into the rock creating a super narrow canyon that we walked above on an incredibly narrow ledge and then turns into a tall waterfall that pours into a pool just before the river. It is quite spectacular! Of course I took a quick bath at the base of the falls.

The next 7 miles were supposed to be a very tedious rock hop along the side of the river. We started along this and then followed an animal path higher up to get around some cliffs before reaching a super sketchy section of something of a path through a rock slide. This didn’t look good. Luckily we had just seen a group of rafters breaking camp and decided to backtrack a bit and ask them for a ride around the sketchy section. They were totally cool and happy to help us out, not just for the sketchy stuff either. Kevin our oarsman got us safely through a handful of class 4 rapids and down the next 7 miles to the mouth of Kanab Creek. This was solid fun especially opposed to the tediousness of rock hopping all day.

From the mouth of Kanab Creek we left the Colorado river for the final time and started making our way up this canyon. The creek serpentines for miles below very impressive thousand foot cliffs. It’s been slow going as there isn’t any trail and we’ve done a lot of walking through water and scrambling around boulder chokes but at the same time it’s been very awesome and possibly my favorite part of the Grand Canyon. We even saw a golden eagle down here fishing or something. After about 8 miles it was getting close to sunset and we found a campsite that we couldn’t pass up.

11/6/19…..Hayduke Day 41…..25 miles

Today started off ordinarily enough. We walked up canyon about a mile to Showerbath Spring which created an amazing hanging garden and I had to resist the urge to strip down and take a shower. The walking became easier in the canyon after the spring and shortly after that the creek all but dried up for awhile(it would be intermittent the next 10 miles so we stocked up on water when we could). Eventually we crossed the boundary of GCNP into BLM land and as we walked the canyon became wider and the walls got shorter. We saw bighorn sheep running across impossibly narrow ledges and amazingly saw not only a bald eagle but a California condor! The thing looked like a pterodactyl.

Around 2pm we came to a 4 way canyon intersection. Kanab Creek continued on straight, Lawson Canyon went to the right and Hack Canyon which was our turn went left. Because Kanab Creek had been so bendy going left felt just like another bend in the canyon. This is a confusing and possibly dangerous intersection. We have GPS and knew which way to go but when we got to the intersection there was about a dozen college kids looking for their friend. They were out doing a 2 week adventure course with their school and somehow one member of their party had got ahead, or behind, or went left or right. Nobody had seen him in over 2 hours. He had food, shelter, and water(although there weren’t any water sources nearby) but he didn’t have a map or a phone or GPS. We started down Hack Canyon and told them we’d send him back to the intersection if we came across him. Their plan was to head down Lawson Canyon and I figured he just carried on straight up Kanab Creek and would eventually turn back. Hack Canyon was a dry rocky wash that occasionally had animal paths on either side of it. We were now way more out in the open in the desert and without the canyon walls for shade, the sun was hot. I had forgot all about the missing hiker until an hour and a half later when QB pointed out a big beefy backpack on the side of the wash. It gave me the chills. This was a panic move and who knows where or how far he could have gone. His water bottles were empty so I filled those, and wrote him a note, while QB drew an arrow with rocks. We were at the backpack for about 20 minutes when the hiker came running back towards us. He had dropped the pack because it was so heavy and gone onto look for his friends or water even climbing to a higher vantage point to look for them. Luckily, 2 miles north of where he dropped the pack he came to a road where some cowboys had a camp set up. They gave him water and told him they’d drive him into town so he went back for his pack and that’s where he found us. It was getting on in the day and his headlamp was on it’s last legs plus he had just gone through a hell of an ordeal so QB and I decided to get him back to his crew. She walked with our new friend while I ran ahead and after about a mile ran into a 3 man search party that had been walking up Hack Canyon. Soon they were all reunited and QB and I turned back to carry on our way. When we got to the cowboys we delivered the message that the hiker wouldn’t need the ride after all and these guys hooked us up with some ice cold cokes! They were out here taking tourists on a cattle drive similar to City Slickers. I can only imagine how far the missing hiker would have gone if he didn’t see these guys. At this point the wash had turned to a jeep road so QB and I walked another hour until finding a spot to camp for the night.

11/7/19…..Hayduke Day 42…..31 miles

Last night we realized our stove is broken. Actually it’s QB’s stove but it’s still broken. Our original plan for today was to hike about a regular days worth of miles and camp a few hours short of Colorado City then go in and out of town tomorrow doing a quick resupply. Now with our broken stove we needed to get to a gear store and there happened to be one in Kanab which was in range again as the Hayduke kind of horseshoes around the town. As interested as I was in Colorado City I was ok with skipping the Fundamentalist Mormon town and going back to Kanab.

This morning we got an alpine start and were up and crushing miles below the stars by 4:30. There was really nothing to it, just long dirt roads all day with nobody out here. By sunrise we were out of Hack Canyon and walking along the Arizona Strip. It’s pretty boring out here but the walking is fast. We had walked over 30 miles by 3pm and started hitching east towards Kanab on AZ HWY 389. After about 5 minutes a guy in a pickup pulled over and we rode in the back for a half hour to Fredonia where we got picked up by Noah and Gracie who took us another 10 minutes into Kanab. We quickly bought a new stove and food for the next few days then made it to our favorite trail angel’s house. Richard was out of town but Lynn hosted us and of course cooked a delicious dinner, Mediterranean veggie tarts. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than a home cooked meal, a hot shower, and a comfortable bed.

Going the extra mile today(literally) put us back up ahead of schedule and with only 70 or so miles to go we are well within range to finish this thing.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on insta for more pictures @endlesspsummer and QB @sarahikes

Day 29…..22 miles…..AZT mile 712.4

Today we walked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon and it was awesome! I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile now and it absolutely lived up to the hype.

This morning we caught a couple of buses to get from Mather Campground back to where we got off the trail yesterday, the South Kaibab Trailhead. Starting down the South Kaibab trail it was steep but the trail is very well taken care of and graded for mules so it switchbacks nicely for about 8 miles to the Colorado River. We cruised down and then took a nice break in the shade of some cottonwoods at Phantom Ranch. On the north side of the river the trail turns into the North Kaibab trail and for about 6 miles follows a relatively mellow trail through a very impressive canyon. We took a little detour to check out Ribbon Falls and found a sweet little swimming hole. It was about 90 degrees in the bottom of the canyon and a quick dip in an icy cool bath felt so good, I definitely recommend a side trip to these falls if you’re exploring the canyon. From Ribbon Falls the trail started to climb rather steadily and for the next 7-8 miles we were crushing switchbacks uphill to the top of the canyon. We walked over to the closed North Rim CG and found only four other hikers who were in the middle of a 2 day rim to rim to rim hike so we set up our tent and ate supper with them. For whatever reason the north rim of the canyon is all closed up for another month but this keeps the crowds on the south side. Plus there’s no mule trains on the north side so instead of smelling mule piss while I walk the only foul smell over here is my own scent, a combination of b.o. and sunscreen. I think one of the true joys of thru hiking is you can find yourself in some amazing places and have them almost all to yourself.

Today was a lot of fun. A few years ago I hiked from the north rim to the river and back then last fall QB and I hiked from the south rim to the river and back but I had yet to make it across the canyon in one shot. Today was the day. I’m glad it worked so nicely into my thru hike of the AZT. Ultimately I think I’d like to do a rim to rim to rim hike in one shot but that seems super tough. We met a few people doing that today and I think some were doing better than others. When I got to the end of the day though I didn’t really have a sudden urge to do it all over again. Someday though, probably or maybe. mule trainthis guy Tach told us he’s hiked down to the river and back 113 times plus a bunch of other stats about himself

Day 30…..27 miles…..AZT mile 744.1

What a difference a day makes. While yesterday we walked through what is arguably the most beautiful famous hole in the world, today we walked a paved road for 20 something miles.

From the north rim CG we walked the half mile back to the North Kaibab Trailhead and the AZT. Going north we heard reports that the trail had a lot of snow so after checking it out we realized a better but more boring option would be just taking the road for awhile. Although it’s probably a few miles shorter than the trail there’s a closed highway, rt 67, that is more or less parallel to the AZT so we walked that for about ten miles until we were outside the national park boundaries. The further north we went there seemed to be less snow so we would check the trail whenever it came real close to the road. After an almost all day road walk we rejoined the trail and walked patchy snow postholing here and there until we got to the edge of a major burn area. It was super windy all day and looking out towards the burn it appeared that the weather was about to make a nasty turn. We decided to camp in some pines south of the burn about an hour before we usually stop and I’m glad we did because while I write this the rain is starting to beat down on the tent.

Day 31…..29.3 miles…..AZT mile 772.4

Holy mackerel! The weather last night went crazy on us. While we were eating our supper of cheese and rehydrated beans we got our first taste of an Arizona thunderstorm. The thunder and lightning was one thing but the wind was the real issue. I’m not sure that a tornado didn’t touch down nearby, I’ve never camped through a more intense windstorm. After an hour or so it settled down but around 2:30 this morning the storm returned with a vengeance and was off and on for the rest of the night. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared. At least it wasn’t thunder snow, it was pretty cold and we camped close to 9000 feet. I did get some sleep though and this morning I woke up happy to be alive and enjoyed another day of hiking the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

For the first ten miles of the day we walked through an apocalyptic looking burn and the skies were clear but a cold wind was still whipping. Eventually the burn ended and we walked through a pine forest for half a dozen miles before getting to a road that led to the town of Jacob’s Lake. This is more like just a little inn that has a diner and gas station but it was worth hitching into. We crushed a couple of cheeseburgers and each bought 4 big cookies to go. Outside the store we met a handful of hikers going west on the Hayduke. The Hayduke is high on my list. It’s actually less of a trail and more of a suggested route that goes through southern Utah and Northern Arizona(seriously if anybody is considering doing this soon get in touch with me). After a couple hours at Jacob’s Lake we started hitching back to the trailhead but didn’t have much luck and walked about mile until an Arizona State Trooper pulled over and gave us a ride the rest of the way(not my first hitch from a trooper, once in CO a trooper drove me about 60 miles east of Denver). Back on trail QB and I walked fast the rest of the day and put in another ten miles before we found a campsite at sunset.

Day 32…..17.1 miles…..AZT mile 788.5

Made it to Utah today and the last day on the Arizona Trail went super smooth. All morning we hiked through pinyon pines and juniper trees until the last 3 miles where we dropped down a couple thousand feet and had views looking into the red rocks of Utah. After 800 miles my legs and body are feeling really good and I feel like I’m just hitting my stride. If there was another couple thousand miles ahead of me, I’d be alright with that. This summer I’m doing things a little differently though and I’ve got some other stuff going on, so I won’t be walking to Canada from here.

We didn’t see anyone all morning until the very end of the trail where we met a couple Hayduke hikers walking south, Twinkle and Ping Pong, who were just starting out on something like a 2 year trip around the world. We talked to them for awhile and now I really want to hike the Hayduke, as well as travel around the world for 2 years. A little further on and we made it to Stateline Campground, home to the northern terminus of the AZT. We high fived of course and took a few photos with the sign. Our plan was to get to the town of Kanab, Utah. Since there was nobody at the Stateline trailhead we walked another mile and a half to the busier Buckskin Gulch trailhead. There we met a photographer, Jay, who was exploring Southern Utah and capturing it on film. He went out of his way and drove us an hour to Kanab. We ate a meal at the appropriately named ‘Trails End’ restaurant and got in touch with some local trail angels Richard and Lynn. These two are both recently retired teachers from Moab and put us up in their beautiful home looking out towards Kanab’s Vermillion Cliffs. Hosting hikers is a relatively new hobby for them and they are really good at it. Throughout the trail QB and I have been reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey and Lynn and Richard not only knew him Abbey from Moab but Lynn is really good friends with his widow Clark. Small world right?

From Kanab QB and I are planning to hitch west for a few days and squeeze in a small adventure before we fly to the other side of the world for a month. I hope you liked reading about my Arizona Trail hike, I certainly enjoyed sharing this trip. Stay tuned for more and feel free to follow me on insta @endlesspsummer for more pictures.

-Endless Richard and Lynn’s backyard

Day 25…..20 miles…..AZT mile 612.8

Our stay at the Travelodge last night gave me all the rest and strength I need for this last stretch of trail(I hope). This morning a couple of our friends, Hoho and Chicory, who had recently moved to Flagstaff had us over and cooked us an incredible breakfast. These two hiked the Arizona Trail last spring as well as both of their dads who were in town, Van Gogh and Pops. Hoho and Chicory have hiked a bunch of the same trails as us and usually the same years so we know lots of the same people and it was fun to talk trail for a few hours with all four of them. They gave us a ride back to the trail around noon and armed with new pairs of sneakers that we sent to their house, QB and I put a good beating on the trail all afternoon and evening. We hiked through a beautiful ponderosa pine forest then saw the first aspen trees of the trail as we got up to 9000 feet. This I think is the high point of the trail but that’s not based on much. While we were up around 9000 we walked by the Arizona Snowbowl that people are still skiing into April and there was still a bunch of patches of snow on the trail. This must have inspired QB to start and then quickly lose a snowball fight. We walked into the evening and as the sunset produced an alpenglow in the sky we found a place to camp in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks.

Day 26…..30.8 miles…..AZT mile 643.6

Queen B saw a bobcat this morning. Or a lynx but let’s just say bobcat. She was about 50 yards away and had a stair down for a full minute with the beast. Look at the picture below to see the blurry image she captured. I’m so jealous, I was ahead of her for about an hour and had just stopped to dig my morning cat hole when she got out ahead and had this awesome wildlife sighting. I mean I’m happy for her and everything but I really wish I saw it too. I’ve yet to see a big cat in the wild, and I know a bobcat is more like a medium sized cat but still. I guess I’ll just keep walking until I do.

The rest of the day was fairly mellow. Early this morning we got out of the pine forest and dropped into a high desert with juniper trees and scrub bushes. Eventually we were out in a wide open range with big views of the San Francisco peaks whenever we turned around. All day was spent on flat fast forest roads which made the miles easy and by the time we got to the last water source of the day, a cow tank, we easily had 30+ miles. Blurry bobcat

Day 27…..31.3…..AZT mile 674.9

No bobcats today, we did see a coyote though, probably my favorite animal. Once again the trail was pretty mellow. We crossed into Kaibab National forest first thing this morning then followed a combination of single track and forest road for the rest of the day. It was a relatively uneventful day, we saw a couple horses that might have been wild or just lost. They didn’t have any saddles on them and there were no people nearby but sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not I’m on the outskirts of somebody’s ranch or way out in the wild.

We’re getting seriously close to the Grand Canyon. This afternoon we came across Grandview Lookout which is a 7 story fire tower that we climbed and had our first views of the canyon. I was disappointed to find the top of the tower locked and closed but still had a pretty good view from up there. From the tower we took a left and the rest of the afternoon pretty much walked parallel to the GC but in a forest and far enough away that we didn’t have any views. Right as we were looking for a campsite, we saw a little coyote running through the woods then out of sight. I wish I had a frisbee with me, or at least a tennis ball.

Day 28…..20 miles(est)…..AZT mile 690.6

This morning we walked for a few hours until we got to the little town of Tusayan Village. This place is just south of the Grand Canyon and seems to exist solely to cater to the National Park visitor. It was good for us because there was a breakfast buffet at the Mexican restaurant in town. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either, this was definitely a quantity over quality situation and we did our part in putting a dent into their food supply. After breakfast we walked another couple hours into Grand Canyon Village. We picked up a box of food at the PO that we sent a month ago then secured ourselves a site in the hiker/biker section at Mather CG. From here we took a bit of an alternate from the AZT. Since we’re planning on doing a rim to rim hike of the canyon starting at the South Kaibab Trail tomorrow, we figured we would set up our stuff and take light packs south of the trailhead and walk along the rim for awhile today. This probably added 5 or 6 miles but was well worth it. Walking along the rim of the canyon is awesome, the views are indescribable to anyone who’s never seen it. As much as the natural beauty of the canyon is so incredible, sometimes the people watching in the park is the real national treasure. I’ve never felt more like an adult than today when I had to tell these three knuckleheads to cut the shit because they were throwing rocks over the side of the canyon. It’s not my favorite role and I’m sure I’ve been on the opposite side of similar conversations more than once but seriously how stupid could these kids be? Anyway a more entertaining thing we saw today was this full grown man intensely practicing tai chi right next to the trail, just behind him was(I can only assume) his wife and 4 kids hitting a dead log on the ground with sticks. It was quite a scene. After we tried not to stare at this martial artist we walked past the South Kaibab trailhead out to Yaki Point for the main event of any day at the canyon, sunset, and it was of course spectacular. From Yaki Point we had to walk back a ways to catch a bus and then another bus that brought us to the supermarket where we ate a bunch of food and charged up our phones and batteries for the next section. Like any of the big National Parks, Grand Canyon is an amazing natural wonder but the village here is very commercialized and draws lots of people. I’m a person too so of course I can’t complain about too many people being here(since I’d be part of the problem), but it’s always weird to go from being almost all by ourselves in the middle of the woods to a major outdoor tourist mecca. Still though, I encourage everybody to see the Grand Canyon at least once.