Endless P Summer

11/8/19…..Hayduke Day 43…..20 miles

We woke up to a delicious home cooked breakfast of potatoes, black beans, corn, cheese, eggs, toast, yogurt, fruit and coffee. Then, after we packed up, Lynn drove us 40 miles out of Kanab to where we got off trail yesterday at the corner of AZ 389 and Yellowstone Rd. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Lynn and her husband Richard are the ultimate trail angels and have done so much for not just me and QB but so many hikers on the Arizona Trail and the Hayduke.

We walked dirt roads through the tiny town of Cane Beds, AZ and then a paved highway for awhile. It was boring. The walking all day today and yesterday was a road walk across the ‘Arizona Strip’ and the best way I can describe it is just boring. I have to just go elsewhere in my mind for monotonous boring road walks like this. For awhile we were on a paved road with a fair amount of traffic, and I found a cell phone in good condition on the side of the road. We charged it up and turned it on but the thing’s locked and we don’t know how to find the owner. Did anybody lose an android near the Arizona/Utah border? I didn’t think so. When we did cross back into Utah after lunch we turned onto a very sandy 4wd road. It was like walking on the beach for 10 miles with no waves. Tomorrow we’ll be in Zion and all this road walking/connector trail will be worth it.

11/9/19…..Hayduke Day 44…..15 miles

We woke to frost on the tent, which wouldn’t be a big deal if we didn’t have to walk through an ice cold river this morning. It warmed up a little as we walked 5 more miles of very sandy jeep road. The road dead ended and we followed a steep trail down to the bottom Parunuweap Canyon aka ‘The Barracks.’ This canyon contained the East Fork of the Virgin River which we would walk along and through for the next 6 miles.

The water was ice cold! Bone chilling. At least for the first hour. We had to keep crossing over and over and only had these small sections of dry land for our feet to warm up a bit. Luckily it didn’t get more than knee deep and it must have been in the low 30’s or colder. I don’t think my feet have ever been more uncomfortable. For some reason the cold water didn’t seem to bother QB or at least she didn’t complain, I had trouble doing anything else.

There was a bald eagle down in the canyon keeping us company for awhile. Or maybe it was 4 bald eagles. Most likely it was 1 eagle that I saw 4 times. Finally after one of the coldest hours my feet have ever endured the water definitely warmed up and became bearable and the canyon was really very cool. It just seemed like the Hayduke’s final boss that we had to defeat. After 15 miles of super sandy jeep road and a half dozen miles of a viciously cold river and 1 quick class 3 scramble you can finish the route. The scramble was through a lemon squeeze beneath a giant boulder and down a natural tunnel all to avoid an impassable waterfall. Shortly after this we climbed out of the river by way of a route called ‘Fat Man’s Misery’ and walked 4-5 more miles crossing into Zion NP and reaching Mt. Carmel Highway.peeing

The official end of the Hayduke is the Weeping Wall within the park but because of a rockslide the Weeping Wall as well as the East Rim Trail are closed. We’ve done both of these before so I’m not losing much sleep about it. Going into Zion our plan has been to hitch around into the park and walk the Zion Traverse starting on the West Rim Trail and finishing at Kolob Canyon. Since Mt. Carmel Highway goes through a huge tunnel that is illegal to walk, we had to hitch and quickly got a ride from Hugo and Manuel. These guys dropped us off at the ranger station where we got our permit for tomorrow.

We’re camping in the park tonight and got into Springdale for a meal. If you come to Zion, Oscar’s just outside the park is where it’s at for food. Very good and they’ve got thru hiker portions.

11/10/19…..Hayduke Day 45…..23 miles

From our campsite at the Watchman CG we took the Zion free park shuttle to the Grotto stop and started up towards the West Rim Trail. The beginning of this trail is the same one that goes to Angel’s Landing. It’s paved, moderately steep, and crowded. After a mile or so we fell in step with an older couple and the woman started asking increasingly personal questions. It was getting weird, and I couldn’t out hike her. Good thing they were stopping at Angel’s Landing because I could only lie to her for so long.

Quickly we got away from the crowds and walked through a very cool part of the park. I feel like so many people in Zion stick to the main attractions within Zion Canyon but there’s a lot to see if you get just a little beyond them, for example the West Rim Trail.

In 2017, roughly the same time of year, QB and I hiked the Zion Traverse or Trans Zion Trail in the opposite direction. The next section the trail splits for 4 or 5 miles, you can continue to take the West Rim Trail or get on the Telephone Canyon Trail. I would recommend staying on the West Rim Trail, we did that last time and it was definitely more scenic. No big deal though. We carried on up near Lava Point, took a left through Wildcat Canyon and by the end of the day got to the Hop Valley Trail and the beginning of Hop Valley. For about a mile the Hop Valley Trail dips out of the Park into Zion Wilderness and that’s where we camped for the night. As we closed in on our campsite we were treated to possibly the most magnificent sunset of the entire Hayduke.

11/11/19…..Hayduke Day 46…..13 miles

Hayduke Lives!!! Finished the trail today.

We got going from our campsite and proceeded to walk through Hop Valley. This is a very underrated part of Zion. If you’re in the area I definitely recommend exploring the east side of the park and especially getting yourself to Hop Valley. If we had been here just a few days early the cottonwoods would still have been flying their bright yellow leaves. We crossed a bunch of partially frozen streams in Hop Valley then descended to La Verckin Creek. After following the creek for half a dozen miles we came to Lee Pass and for us the Western Terminus of the Hayduke. We high fived a few times, took a couple pictures and got busy hitching.

Deanna picked us up and ended up driving us almost 3 hours to Vegas. She even brought us to a thrift store in St. George, UT so we could buy clean new clothes for the next couple days. We’re staying 2 nights in Vegas, flying to NY for a few days then driving home to Massachusetts. Tonight we’re gorging ourselves at a buffet on the strip. We’re both trying to eat our weight in crab legs.

Thanks for reading! The Hayduke was a truly incredible endeavor, it was very difficult but the payoff was well worth it. I hope you enjoyed following along, I enjoyed having you. Feel free to follow us on insta for more pictures @endlesspsummer and QB @sarahikes.

10/25/19…..Hayduke Day 29…..9 miles

QB and I got back on the Hayduke today after a nearly 2 week hiatus. Let me catch you up real quick. On October 12th we started hitching to Las Vegas from Jacob Lake, AZ. In Vegas we rented a car, drove to Southern California to explore Death Valley NP, Joshua Tree NP, and climb Mt San Jacinto. We returned the car to Las Vegas, walked up and down the strip then flew to New York to attend QB’s friend Aneesa and her now husband Kevin’s wedding. After a very brief visit to the east coast we returned to Vegas and were picked up at the airport by QB’s folks Nancy and Dave. The 4 of us did a little road trip around the southwest going to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Dam, Zion NP, and Bryce Canyon NP. This morning we parted ways in Bryce and started hitching south while Nancy and Dave continued on their tour of the southwest towards Moab.This morning we watched the sunrise then beat the bag out of another continental breakfast before saying our good byes with QB’s parents and putting our thumbs out. Oscar and Milo were our first ride and they brought us out of their way about a half hour to Junction, UT where we were picked up by Breck who got us another 40 miles into Kanab. In town we stopped at the PO and resupplied at the grocery store. We’re getting very familiar with this town. From Kanab we got a ride from Opie, a helicopter pilot, to Fredonia, AZ then waited awhile before getting picked up by Drew and Nate, two hunters in a tiny Suzuki Samurai. These guys got us up to the store at Jacob Lake where we had a quick sandwich then started walking back the two miles towards the trail. Braxton and Brenna who were taking their time driving from Alaska to Virginia gave us a short lift the rest of the way in their van.

Back on the Hayduke we were still on the section that coincides with the Arizona Trail across the Kaibab Plateau. The hiking up here isn’t too exciting but it’s peaceful and easy. It’s deer hunting season and we’ve been walking by lots of hunting camps. I really hope I don’t get shot. I hope QB doesn’t either. Probably should get her a matching orange hat next time we’re in town. We walked for a few hours and set up at sunset which came super early, around 5:30 Arizona time.

10/26/19…..Hayduke Day 30…..28 miles

Our first 10 miles or so today we walked through a burn(a section of forest that had previously burned in a wildfire). This apocalyptic looking area is exposed to the elements, luckily it wasn’t too windy or sunny, it’s just a little ugly. There were lots of hawks hunting, so that was cool, nothing like a bird of prey to spike my tone.

Eventually we reached a ponderosa forest and walked through that for much of the afternoon before reaching a view of the East Rim of the Grand Canyon. In April of ‘18 while we were hiking the Arizona Trail, a lot of the trail was still covered by multiple feet of snow. We decided then to walk the road that’s parallel to the trail which had minimal traffic because the north rim of the GC was closed. With no snow on the trail today a lot of the hiking was uncharted terrain of the AZT for us.

Late this afternoon we met up with just the 3rd other Hayduke thru hiker we’ve seen. We’d been in touch with Clax online and knew he was close. He did a massive day to catch us and then the 3 of us walked a couple hours together until sunset. We reached a road where the Hayduke splits from the AZT and found a couple flat spots to camp beside it.

10/27/19…..Hayduke Day 31…..7 miles

We parted ways with Clax this morning as he went right to go pick up his Grand Canyon permits at the North Rim ranger station and we followed the Hayduke to the left along forest roads for 7 miles. It was super windy this morning up on the plateau, like ridiculously uncomfortably windy, like hurricane force wind. It sucked. When we got to the edge of the canyon and the trailhead for the dastardly Nankoweap Trail we met Talitha walking uphill. We hoped that below the rim would be a lot less windy but Talitha, who was just down for a day hike, told us it was pretty miserable. The Nankoweap Trail is supposedly the most difficult trail in the Grand Canyon. It drops steeply and follows narrow ledges with huge drops off to the side. I haven’t been looking forward to it. I especially don’t want to be walking down it while also competing with massive wind gusts. Neither does QB. It was only 10 am and we weren’t going to wait around on the edge of the canyon so we asked Talitha for a ride out of there and she was super willing to help us out. She works tracking California Condors in the area(one of my favorite subjects) and drove us all the way back to Jacob Lake.

Back at the Jacob Lake restaurant/gas station/gift shop/hotel again we ran into Chris and Sanjay the 4th and 5th other Hayduke hikers we’ve met. These guys have been just behind us for awhile and we’ve been in touch with them the whole trip sharing info and finally met them in person. We talked with them for awhile about how our hikes have been going(we’ve all taken much different routes so far) and of course we had a few mutual friends. Because of the cold weather predicted for tonight the 4 of us all got cabins for Jacob Lake and elected to stay indoors. I really would have liked to be below the rim tonight but descending the Nankoweap in the wind was out of the question.

10/28/19…..Hayduke Day 32…..23 miles

It snowed overnight. Just a couple inches, but still. We met Chris and Sanjay for breakfast and then went our separate ways. Those guys are getting back on trail right by Jacob Lake whereas QB and I are trying to hitch back to where we got off yesterday.

The temperature was in the single digits when we got out to the road and put our thumbs out. The maple syrup leftover from breakfast in my beard and mustache was freezing solid.

After a mile of walking down the road, Vince and Jim picked us up. They’re from Kanab and Vince, a trail runner, knows our friend Lynn. These guys took us 25 miles down HWY 67 to where they’re gathering firewood and QB and I took a left down the dirt road toward Saddle Mountain trailhead. We thought for sure we’d get a ride back to where we hitched from yesterday but no cars ever came. Instead we walked 14 bonus miles on snow covered roads. Neither of us had expected this would happen and I wasn’t thrilled about it. I guess maybe we would have done things differently yesterday had we thought it would be so difficult to get back. At least it wasn’t windy out. By the time we got to the trailhead on the edge of the canyon we were more than ready to be done road walking.

I have been thinking about the Nankoweap Trail for about a month now and it’s been keeping me up at night. It looked really scary and parts of it were really scary. There’s trail the whole way and for the most part it was decent but at times it gets quite narrow and a false step would drop me thousands of feet to the canyon floor. It was pretty but it was scary. I’ve hiked on gnarlier terrain before but I guess I built this up in my head and it lived up to the hype. Eventually we got through the high exposure stuff and we really started to descend, something like 5500 feet in a slow going 8 miles from the rim. We got to Nankoweap Creek in the dark and set up camp. I feel very relieved to be down here in the Canyon in the relative warmth of the lower altitude and with the wild and wooly Nankoweap Trail in my rear view mirror.

10/29/19…..Hayduke Day 33…..11 miles

This trail has been dealing us a little string of bad luck lately. Let me explain. Two days ago the wind forced us to retreat back to town and not drop into the canyon. Yesterday we think the snow prevented anybody from driving out to the trailhead therefore shutting down any opportunity of hitchhiking and adding 14 miles to our day. Today we got shutout trying to hitch across the river.

This morning we walked along Nankoweap Creek for 3 miles until it reached the mighty Colorado. From the mouth of the Nankoweap for 8 miles along the river there was no trail, just a nasty bushwhack. It was scenic, sure, but it was very difficult. Occasionally there would be animal paths here and there but there was lots of bushwhacking through thorny bushes and cacti, scrambling on loose talus, and some tricky route finding. For awhile we were in 1 mph terrain. Then we still had to get across the river. Our trail continued on the far side of the Colorado at the mouth of the Little Colorado River and the only way to get across was to get a ride, but no rafts came. Maybe tomorrow.

Today wasn’t all bad though we’re in the Grand Canyon for Christ’s sake so it’s beautiful plus QB and I got in for a swim so that was fun. Oh and if you were wondering swimming across the Colorado is not an option.

10/30/19…..Hayduke Day 34…..12 miles

Finally a change of fortune today. We packed up early and waited on the beach by our campsite making sure not to miss any opportunity to get a ride across. Around 12 a party of about a dozen rafters on 4 boats floated by and were happy to be able to help us out. They brought us across the river and to the mouth of the Little Colorado River.

QB and I thanked our new friends then walked up the LCR about a quarter mile looking for a place to ford it. This river is a striking turquoise color and was moving pretty quickly. The bottom was invisible but luckily it was only chest deep. We packed all our stuff inside trash bags within our packs, held hands so we wouldn’t get swept away and crossed. It wasn’t that bad or cold. On the far side of the LCR we gained the Beamer Trail and walked that for the next 10 miles.

I won’t say that the Beamer Trail was absolutely terrifying but it had its moments. The trail follows along a bench that has a 500 foot cliff on the right hand side going straight down to the river. There was a fair amount of times where a false step would have been my last. Other than that it contoured in and out of hanging side canyons and provided absolutely magnificent views of the Canyon. In the distance we could see the Desert View Lookout Tower on the South Rim. Last week we were up there with Nancy and Dave looking way down at this trail and I guess I had mistakenly thought the trail was a lot lower. After about 6 miles the Beamer Trail drops down to river level and is much more relaxed. At some point we crossed the intersection with the Tanner Trail and picked up the Escalante Route(not technically a GC trail but felt pretty good to me). We walked a couple miles of this before finding a place to camp for the night under a tiny sliver of a moon and a gazzillion stars.

10/31/19…..Hayduke Day 35…..25 miles

The Escalante Route brought us up high over the river and had a handful of big climbs and descents. At one point it brought us along the rim of a side canyon then we turned a corner, dropped into the canyon and were in a section of narrows for a mile back to the Colorado. There wasn’t as many dicey spots as the Beamer Trail but the Escalante Route did provide a couple of b-hole puckering moments, specifically while climbing up and over Papago Slide. It was also a slow trail or at least we moved slowly. On a day we had to really boogie we couldn’t seem to make miles for the first half of our day.

After we crossed Hance Creek we were now on the Tonto Trail. This brought us up high up onto the Tonto Plateau and far away from the Colorado River. For the rest of the day we would walk the Tonto Trail on the rims of huge side canyons.

We came across Tank, the first and only eastbound Hayduke hiker we’ve seen and now the 6th other thru hiker we’ve met.

If you’re wondering what we did for Halloween, QB and I wore the only costumes we had on hand; each other’s clothes. Then we listened to Dirtbag Diaries ‘Tales of Terror’ and night hiked for an hour. I was hoping I would see some tents to trick or treat at because I’m extremely low on food but no such luck.

11/1/19…..Hayduke Day 36…..18 miles

We realized yesterday that the P.O. at the South Rim of the GC closes at 3:30 on Friday(today) and is closed for the weekend. Because the store there is super expensive we mailed a box of food and originally figured we’d be there either Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s why we walked an hour into the dark last night and then got going this morning before sunrise. We had 14 more miles of the Tonto Trail and then a 4 mile climb up to the South Rim.

Finally some consistently cruiser trail. The Tonto Trail was a breeze and even though the South Kaibab Trail climbs 3000 feet in 4 miles and stinks like mule piss we motored right up it. We even saw a condor! I spotted it perched up high on a rocky point and then as we rounded a corner we saw this majestic bird soaring in circles way up in the sky.

The main corridor of the GC consists of the South Kaibab Trail, and the Bright Angel trail on the South Rim side and the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim. These trails are steep, well manicured, and very very busy. Grand Canyon is an absolutely massive place but the overwhelming majority of people are concentrated in the main corridor. As we got onto the South Kaibab Trail we started to see lots of people all the way up to the rim. Once on the rim we caught a shuttle to the P.O., got to the backcountry office to rearrange our permits, then supplemented our food at the grocery store and ate a big meal. Tonight we’re staying at the hiker/biker site at Mather CG(I think all National Parks have these extra cheap sites for people like us) there’s laundry and showers across the street and I’m just about all the way rejuvenated. Tomorrow we’ll begin our next week of zigzagging first North and then West through the Canyon.

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

10/9/19…..Hayduke Day 25…..0 miles

This morning Josh caught up to us as we were breaking camp and apparently he also had himself a ballgame going through Starlight Canyon yesterday. Since we were camped almost on top of HWY 89 the 3 of us started hitching right away. The first pickup truck drove by us then turned around and picked us up. Josh and I sat in the back and it was a mighty chilly half hour drive into Kanab. I’ll take it though!

In town we immediately got down to the first order of business, breakfast. We ran a couple errands and got in touch with our friends and local trail angels, Richard and Lynn. Last spring, after QB and I finished the Arizona Trail, Richard and Lynn hosted us in their beautiful house, Chateau Relaxo. Because Kanab is a trail town for both the Hayduke and the Arizona Trail they’ve become vital to the trail community here. They’re super nice and have provided us with a very enjoyable place to stay and are also a wealth of knowledge about the area and the trail.

Lynn picked us up from the library and brought us first to the supermarket to resupply then back to their house. We met Birdy at their home who is starting a southbound AZT hike this evening. Tonight QB cooked us all a delicious meal and we enjoyed a proper day off trail.

10/10/19…..Hayduke Day 26…..14 miles

This morning Lynn baked us all muffins before we got up(awesome right?) then drove me and Sara to the BLM field office in town. We were trying to get permits to hike to ‘The Wave.’ This is an iconic southwest image that I’m sure you’ve seen, either on a computer screen saver or your high school science book cover. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google images to refresh your memory(when you’re done reading this whole blog of course). Everyday at 9am they hold a lottery for 10 permits for the following day. This is quite a production. 140 people showed up and most of them, including me, were big losers. No big deal, there’s plenty to see out here and QB and I are planning to take a little side trip into some slot canyons tomorrow instead.

My friend Eileen and her family happen to be out in Utah from Massachusetts and as luck would have it today they were traveling right through Kanab. The Brennan’s picked us up at the BLM office, took us to breakfast in town, and then drove us back to the trail on their way to Page. It was so nice and really fun! Plus it’s always so refreshing to hear a familiar Boston accent.

Back on trail QB and I walked south through Buckskin Wash to the Wire Pass trailhead. It was mostly uneventful but we did find some petroglyphs that Richard gave us directions to. It was easy walking and there was cool stuff to see, especially the last mile when it got really narrow. On the way out we met Eric and Gina. Eric’s a Seattle area firefighter and these two are road tripping to Arizona for a University of Washington football game. They gave us a ride all the way back to Richard and Lynn’s house in Kanab. We usually don’t do this(stay 2 nights in a row with trail angels)but we’re in no rush right now and it’s supposed to be in the 20’s tonight! And Lynn told us beforehand she was making Shepherd’s Pie. The deal was sealed. We got back just in time for dinner and then homemade peach cobbler and ice cream for desert. Like I said, these are the ultimate trail angels.

10/11/19…..Hayduke Day 27…..17 miles

Lynn made breakfast burritos for QB and me this morning then drove us all the way out HWY 89 to the corner of the dirt road that leads back to Wire Pass Trailhead, so nice! We got a hitch from Jolie, a local guide, the rest of the way. Since we didn’t get permits for The Wave or get an overnight permit for Paria Canyon we decided to take a little side trip today. First we backtracked a mile and a half to Wire Pass then took a right and walked down into Lower Buckskin Gulch. This is a massive slot canyon that goes something like 9 miles to the Paria River. We only had a day permit so we walked about 5 miles into the slots and turned around. It was really cool, I would definitely recommend this hike to other lottery losers.

Back at the trailhead we walked a mile south on the road and crossed into Arizona. This is the end of or beginning of the Arizona Trail, at Stateline Campground. In the spring of ‘18 QB and I hiked the AZT North and finished here. I remember walking downhill the last few miles through a ton of sagebrush, pinyons, and junipers while looking over at the massive amount of red rock on the Utah side. I had wished the trail would just keep going last year and I guess we could have kept walking but we didn’t. This year we did that in reverse, walking up through the sagebrush until finding a flat spot on the side of the trail to camp.

It’s supposed to be wicked cold tonight but luckily we planned ahead. We both picked up another layer at a thrift store in Kanab so I’ll be very cozy in my stylish $4 argyle sweater.

10/12/19…..Hayduke Day 28…..23 miles

The air was rather crisp this morning, nothing crazy though. It would eventually warm up as the sun got higher. Walking today was uneventful. The Kaibab Plateau section of the Arizona Trail, north of the Grand Canyon, is flat and fast. We walked cruiser trail through a sagebrush desert packed with junipers and pinyons and when we gradually climbed higher we started seeing some ponderosa pines. When we reached HWY 89A we put our thumbs out and got picked up by Sev, a Frenchman living in his van who brought us to the store at Jacob’s Lake.

After today we are taking a little hiatus from the Hayduke. Pay attention because I’m only going to explain this once. We have to go to a wedding in New York on the 19th. We’re flying from Vegas the morning of the 18th and returning the 20th. On our way back we’ll be joining QB’s parents for 4-5 days on their road trip thru the southwest and then getting back to the Hayduke around 10/25-26. Had we gone up to Bryce and if that trail was open the timing would have worked out swimmingly. If we continued on the Hayduke south into the Grand Canyon we’d be able to hitch to Vegas but since the North Rim of the Canyon closes mid October, we wouldn’t be able to hitch back and would have to re walk a bunch of miles. Did you follow all that? So tonight after eating sandwiches at Jacobs Lake we started hitching west. Tanner picked us up and drove us 20 miles to Fredonia, AZ then Leticia and Elizabeth picked us up on their way home from a fair in Navajo Nation and drove us an hour to Hurricane, UT. A good rule of thumb is to stop hitching at sunset so we got the last room in town and ended up with a sweet deal on a gigantic suite at the Rodeway Inn. Tomorrow we’ll try to get to Vegas, rent a car, then take a little side trip somewhere we’ve never been.

I probably won’t be writing this blog for the next couple weeks but I’ll most likely be putting pictures up on Instagram. Feel free to follow me @endlesspsummer and QB @sarahikes.

Thanks for reading!

10/2/19…..Hayduke Day 18…..zero miles

Zero miles today but not for lack of trying. Our plan was to lay around half the day, take care of a few little errands, then hitch back to the Hayduke this afternoon and get a few miles in. From the town of Escalante it’s 5 miles down rt 12 to Hole in the Rock road then another 35 miles down a bumpy dirt road to our trailhead. We unexpectedly waited for about an hour before getting a ride the first 5 miles from Isabella and Claudette, a pair of French tourists, and then waited almost 2 hours before getting shutout at the corner of rt 12 and Hole in the Rock. This was a real rarity, I feel like I can almost always count on a hitch especially in a place like this with so many outdoor activities. It made more sense to get back to town and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing and trying again tomorrow rather than waiting out there and possibly spending the night camping by the side of the road. No big deal but it would have been nice if we had just stayed in town and took a proper zero.

We got some news this morning about our upcoming route. Apparently there was a wildfire in Bryce Canyon NP and the ‘Under the Rim’ Trail is closed. This was our whole reason to go up towards Bryce so I guess we’ll be doing some sort of alternate in the next week. This is too bad but I’m sure it will provide an opportunity to do and see something else that we otherwise wouldn’t.

10/3/19…..Hayduke Day 19…..19 miles

We had much better luck today with rides. First we met Mike at Mimi’s Bakery(make sure you stop here if you’re ever in Escalante). Not only did he offer to drive us out of town and out if his way to Hole in the Rock Road but he was super nice and insisted on buying us muffins and coffee. 30 seconds after he dropped us off we got picked up by the first car going our way and Josh, Sandro, and Anika brought us all the way to the Hurricane Wash trailhead as they were going to spend the day in Coyote Gulch. It was a fun ride and we even saw 3 coyotes, finally!

Once we got back to the trailhead, QB and I started hiking up Fifty Mile Bench, or ‘The 50’ as the locals call it. We followed dirt roads most of the way and then turned onto a trail for the last couple miles with the last mile being super steep until we got to the top of the bench. Up top it was relatively flat and we walked a few miles following cow paths to Mudhole Spring. There was good water here, a spigot and everything, and we loaded up 7+ liters each because it’s 30 miles until our next reliable source.

With heavy packs we walked cross country following cow paths until descending into Monday Canyon. For the next 7 miles we walked slowly through this canyon choked with boulders and trees. It was tedious and very slow going. There were lots of pour offs that were too steep to just jump down so we had to maneuver around them and navigate lots of boulders. There may have been a way around all this but we didn’t find it. Eventually the sun started to set so we found a flat spot and set up for the night. I think there’ll be more boulder choked canyon hiking for the morning.

10/4/19…..Hayduke Day 20…..24 miles

From our campsite we were only a few hundred feet down Monday Canyon to the confluence with Rogers Canyon. These canyons were similar, both dry and full of huge boulders and pour offs that we had to work around. Rogers Canyon eventually let up on us and we walked on sandy wash until taking a right and walking up Navajo Canyon. For awhile Navajo was sandy and easy walking and then this one too was choked with boulders and dry falls. We found it easier to navigate walking up canyon opposed to down as we were able to see from a distance which routes go and which don’t.

After half a dozen miles we turned left onto a faint 4×4 road and climbed up that for awhile. This track joined a regular dirt road for a mile then left that climbing higher and providing vast views of the Grand Staircase(the Grand Staircase is a vast 200 square mile geological feature, not one particular formation.) We descended on this 4×4 road down into Reese Canyon for some nice easy walking. This was a sandy wash that we cruised along until reaching the junction with Last Chance Creek. At one point QB discovered 5 or 6 of what just have to be fossilized dinosaur prints. If only there was a paleontologist around. See for yourself and let me know what you think:

Turning up Last Chance Creek Canyon we reached decent water for the first time since yesterday afternoon. There was a good amount of water in Rogers Canyon earlier in the day but it was pretty nasty looking. Unfortunately QB slipped and busted her ass in a big puddle of it. I felt bad and everything but sure glad it wasn’t me. After getting water this evening we saw a massive tarantula crawling across our path. Shortly after that we found a rocky shelf on the side of Last Chance Creek to cowboy camp. Hopefully that tarantula doesn’t try to crawl in my fartsack to cuddle.

10/5/19…..Hayduke Day 21…..25 miles

For the first half of the day we cruised up canyon alongside Last Chance Creek. We didn’t see any wildlife but plenty of evidence of animals. There were lots of coyote tracks, surprisingly a few black bear prints, and a good amount of cat tracks. Either a very large bobcat or a small lion.

We took lunch around noon and were caught up to by Josh, the first other Hayduke hiker we’ve seen. In 2017 we all crossed paths briefly in Wyoming while hiking in opposite directions on the CDT. This guy is absolutely flying and told us about 3 other hikers he passed behind us. Earlier this summer he broke the FKT on Vermont’s Long Trail and held it for 6 weeks, and also made a substantial attempt at the PCT record. He’s super fast but was in no hurry today so joined us for the rest of the afternoon.

Today was the easiest day of hiking we’ve had out here. This afternoon we followed Last Chance Creek a little further then took a left on Paradise Canyon where we walked for about 6 miles. There’s a little slot canyon off route that we went to check out, Yellow Paradise Slot. It was very cool and although we couldn’t have made it through and back to where we were headed, it was well worth the side trip. This evening we loaded up on halfway decent water from a seep then took a left onto a dirt road that we followed for 3 miles before finding a place to camp.

10/6/19…..Hayduke Day 22…..26 miles

This morning QB, Josh and I cruised through a long road walk for 13 miles until getting to the Grosvenor Arch trailhead. We passed a group camping on the side of the trail eating breakfast and they hooked us up with fruit, orange juice, and water. They just happened to be a group of paleontologists out looking for fossils. What are the chances? It was confirmed that the footprints we saw the other day were actually dinosaur fossilized prints most likely from a duckbilled dinosaur(with a more scientific name). Our new friends also showed us some dinosaur bones and how to identify them.

A few weeks ago at Grosvenor Arch, QB and I cached a bucket of food and 3 gallons of water and it was still there in it’s hiding spot untouched. We took an extended lunch as people were coming and going from the arch and while there were joined by Scampie, another Hayduke hiker. We’d never met but had mutual friends and now the 4 of us, which we considered must be the Hayduke Bubble, carried on down the dirt road. After a mile Josh got a hitch into Tropic because he had new shoes coming in so the bubble was back down to 3.

QB, Scampie, and I walked a few more miles of dirt road before dropping into a narrow slot canyon, Round Valley Draw. This place was very cool! A few times we had to relay pass our packs down so we could down climb some steep narrow chutes. It went on for awhile as a tight slot canyon then got a bit wider before reaching Hackberry Canyon. We walked down Hackberry for a few miles and found a spot to camp beside the wash.

10/7/19…..Hayduke Day 23…..21 miles

Dang it was cold last night! And this morning. I think we’ll be setting the tent up from here on out, the stars have been incredible but cold wind in the face in the middle of the night has been uncomfortable. Plus my sleeping pad deflated on me all the way down to nothing a couple times last night. I’ll have to rectify that situation in town.

The first few miles today were nice and fast through Hackberry Canyon. Eventually a trickle of water started to develop at our feet and before long it was ankle deep. Trying to avoid the water meant bushwhacking so after a little bit of that we decided to just walk down river and deal with cold feet. The canyon was pretty enough though but the high walls kept the sun from reaching us until 9:30. We passed Watson Cabin, a relic from another time, being refurbished by the BLM, that was cool and worth checking out. I wonder if one can camp in that thing? Not that I would have.

This afternoon Scampie got out ahead of us and since we’re taking different routes going forward, the Hayduke bubble was back to two, QB and me. The two of us walked down Hackberry Canyon until it became a dry wash then reached the Paria River where we took a right. In the Paria the water was low and silty and the river bed was very wide. The Paria River begins up near Bryce but because of the trail closure there we only followed it a half dozen miles or so until we reached the mouth of Kitchen Canyon. We took a left and began an alternate through Kitchen Canyon where we were hoping to find clearer water but without any luck. The water is super silty so we put it in our platypus bags and hopefully some of the red dirt will settle overnight. We camped in this very pretty, bright red canyon. Our shoes are wet and doubtful that they’ll dry by morning when I’m guessing it will be mighty cold out. Not tonight’s problem though.

10/8/19…..Hayduke Day 24…..23 miles

Most of the dirt in the water bags settled to the bottom overnight, so that worked out well but even better than that was the nice clear water flowing out of a side canyon a few minutes into our morning. Shortly beyond that, Kitchen Canyon goes to the right and this alternate follows Starlight Canyon to the left. We followed Kitchen Canyon a short distance to where it dead ends at a tall and super silty waterfall giving the appearance of chocolate milk pouring over a canyon wall, Yum!

Starlight Canyon was very cool, until it wasn’t. There were big red walls, bright yellow cottonwoods, and even a slot canyon section. The walking was difficult with a fair amount of bushwhacking and running water but the scenery made up for all that. We followed Starlight for 4 slow miles then hit a dead end. The beta we had on it wasn’t much but we were following a gps track that looked like it went straight up this 15 foot drywall we were staring at. To the left and the right of the dryfall were massive walls of a series of cliffs on each side but we attempted to give the left wall a shot as it was the less daunting of the two. After getting up about 20 feet of tricky climbing we had nothing above us but a high exposure class 5 route. Maybe the person who created this alternate found a better way but we didn’t and I guess we also didn’t research it enough. So began a bushwhack backtrack, the worst kind of backtrack. Retreating, we took a right down the first significant canyon, walked up that a bit and took a good look at the topo maps. There seemed to possibly be a way up a series of steep grassy ramps and there was! We had to do some class 2 scrambling up some rocky stuff but we found a ridge and were able to follow that all the way up to a jeep road that ended up rejoining the alternate that we were on. Not only that but we had amazing views looking back over the Grand Staircase from high up.

Following the jeep road for 5-6 miles brought us to a dirt road that we walked for about 10-11 miles to route 89. It was mostly uneventful besides a couple stopping in their Land Cruiser to give us cold water and me almost tripping over a gopher snake. We got to the highway right around sunset, tried hitching to Kanab for about 15 minutes, then gave up and set up the tent behind a bluff near the road.

Thanks for reading! And feel free to follow this blog or find us on insta for more pictures: @endlesspsummer @sarahikes

9/25/19…..Hayduke Day 11…..Zero miles

We took the day off today in Hanksville and a nice relaxing day. Overall it was a nice little trail town, had everything we needed anyway. Last night we stayed tented in the RV park and ate at Duke’s Grill next door. Two thumbs up for Duke’s and they served a good breakfast over there as well. Today we’re staying at the Hanksville Inn and although it’s not the Taj Majal they give a very good discount to hikers and cyclists. We left boxes of food at the motel last week while we had the rental car so we didn’t have to rely on the couple of small markets in town to resupply(they were only so so at best). If you ever come through this way Stan’s Burger Shack was a great little restaurant and had awesome shakes. My least favorite thing about Hanksville was the pizza at Bull Market. What can I say, it was the worst pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life.

9/26/19…..Hayduke Day 12…..20 miles

We started hitching this morning around 8am and there were barely any cars heading south on 95. After 20 minutes or so Don, a geologist for the state, picked us up and drove us the 17 miles back to Poison Spring Canyon where we got off the route.

From the highway we took a right onto a 4wd road and started walking towards the beefy Henry Mountains, the last mountain range to be named in the lower 48. We walked dirt roads for the next 11 miles gradually climbing higher until we got to Crescent Creek which was flowing nicely. At one point during this road walk we had to switch roads and unexpectedly do a class 3 down climb into a wash before gaining the other road, it seemed out of place compared to the rest of the morning.

After lunch at Crescent Creek we started uphill on roads again for a couple miles and began to pickup the scent of other hikers, or at least we saw two sets of massive Altra footprints in the dirt(thru-hiker tracks). A guy driving a truck down the road asked us if we were hiking the Hayduke and said something like ‘I’ve lived here all life, never heard of the damn thing and today met two separate groups of people hiking it.’ So I guess there’s a couple of guys ahead of us which is cool because we haven’t met any one else yet.

We then left the road following something of a shortcut that climbed directly up a ridge towards Mt Ellen. This was a very steep climb but it cut off about 3 miles of a much more indirect route to the summit. From the highway we gained 6,500 feet to top out at 11,400+ feet on top of Mt Ellen, the high point of the Hayduke. After summiting, we descended along a steep ridge walk and then an even steeper bushwhack before reaching the mostly dry creek bed of Sweetwater Creek which we walked for another mile. This descent wasn’t all that much fun but there were lots of aspen trees that had turned a bright yellow and from our campsite we were rewarded with a magnificent sunset over Capitol Reef.

9/27/19…..Hayduke Day 13…..20 miles

We started downhill from our campsite walking cross country and occasionally following bison trails for a bit here and there. The Henry Mountains are home to one of the last 3 herds of purebred wild bison in the U.S.(you should probably google that fact but I think I’m at least close to accurate). Unfortunately we didn’t see any bison, and I’ve yet to see one in the wild. After a couple miles we got to a dirt road that we walked for 8 miles, climbing up onto Tarantula Mesa and then leveling off.

Around lunch time we reached some rain collecting tanks a half mile off route to fill up on water for the last time until tomorrow evening. Getting water out of them was a bit of a chore. I took the cover off and reached down as far as I could with out falling in to get to the water then passed down liter after liter as QB filled our bags and passed bottles up. We each carried 8 liters from there so I did this 16 times. I’m sure there was a better way. From the tanks we walked another mile or so on road with wicked heavy packs then cross country for a couple miles until we reached a cliff on the rim of a big unnamed canyon. To get down this sucker we had to take our packs off and pass them to each other as we down climbed a short rocky stretch then carefully navigated loose scree until we got to a wash at the bottom. The rest of the afternoon became a little more difficult. We walked cross country the rest of the day and navigating the terrain was tough. We followed washes, bison trails, an old mining road, and went in and out of drainages and up and down small canyons all day in the hot sun. Shortly after we dropped into the mouth of Swap Canyon we found a place to camp.(If you’re hiking this and planning to get water at Swap Canyon Spring, there was a small pool but looked filmy and full of alkaline in the creek bed).

9/28/19…..Hayduke Day 14…..23 miles

Today was pretty rad! From our spot in Swap Canyon we got up and walked a gentle downhill through the wash for a handful of miles until crossing into Capitol Reef National Park. The canyon spilled into the park which is narrow but stretches a long way north to south. We were on the southern end of the park and joined the Burr Trail for a few miles which is actually a dirt road that switchbacks up steeply to the trailhead for Lower Muley Twist Canyon. This place was awesome!

The canyon serpentined or twisted(hence the name) for about ten miles through huge red rock sandstone walls. There were caves, rock formations, and giant alcoves with huge overhangs where over time water carved away big portions of the walls underneath. Amazingly we didn’t see another person in Lower Muley Twist, granted we aren’t close to the main visitor center but this would be an easy day hike within a national park on a beautiful Saturday(I think) in September.

Eventually the canyon dumped us out onto Hall’s Creek which is actually a dry wash right now. After a mile or so we reached Muley Tanks, these are huge potholes in the sandstone that keep water in them year round and are just brimming with life, they’re kind of like tiny ponds. This was our first water source in awhile so we filled up and it was pretty good water. We carried on down the wash for a few more miles alongside Waterpocket Fold. This is a giant uplift in the earth’s crust that causes an almost hundred mile long wrinkle of Navajo Sandstone in the desert landscape, it’s very cool. We then found a spot to camp underneath and within a giant juniper tree protected nicely from the wind. At the end of the day instead of following the regular Hayduke and climbing up to Red Slide, we started down an alternate that will take us through Halls Creek Narrows and through some supposedly spectacular canyons.

9/29/19…..Hayduke Day 15…..21 miles

QB and I cruised this morning for the first 9 miles through and alongside the dry bed of Halls Creek. Stopping just briefly to fill our bottles at Fountain Tanks, a couple more natural potholes holding water. When we reached Halls Creek Narrows the clouds behind us were dark and threatening. It would have been less fun and kind of stupid to carry on through the Narrows with the possibility of a flash flood. We were at a bit of a stand still so we climbed up on the sandstone and planned to take an early and possibly extended lunch to wait for the clouds to dissipate. Luckily for us this didn’t take long and soon we had blue skies and could walk through the canyon without worry.

Halls Creek Narrows were so cool! I don’t know if they were technically slot canyons but the canyon got pretty tight. In a way it was similar to Muley Twist as it had the large walls and big alcoves but Halls Creek was tighter and had considerably more water. Often times we would be walking up to our knees and waists through the dark water on slippery mud. At one point we went through holding our packs above our heads and the water was just above my mouth while I was on my tip toes. QB followed me and even though we’re the same exact height, she somehow got to the same spot I was at and had to swim using only her legs as she was still able to hold her pack above her head. I guess my toes are longer. To see some video of this event go to my insta @endlesspsummer.

Shortly after the deep stuff, the canyon began to widen and we were dumped out into an area that looked much like before except this time there was water in the creek bed. We followed alongside this for 6 miles sometimes able to find stretches of animal trails and sometimes bushwhacking cross country. There had to have been a better way. At some point we left the boundary of Capitol Reef NP and entered Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We walked this section of Halls Creek until almost reaching an outstretched arm of Lake Powell. Had Glen Canyon Dam never been built, Halls Creek would carry on through Glen Canyon eventually feeding the Colorado River.

Before reaching the Lake we took a right and started a steep climb up slick rock onto Waterpocket Fold. Looking back we can see the huge red cliffs on the far side of the creek, the Henry Mountains and beyond that way in the distance the La Sals. Our route continues up this slick rock but after a mile or so we found a spot to cowboy camp and call it a day.

9/30/19…..Hayduke Day 16…..22 miles

First of all, there must have been a meteor shower last night or we were in a dark sky park or both because we saw plenty of shooters while laying in bed. Anyway, this morning we climbed a few more miles up the slick rock to the top of Waterpocket Fold while behind us we had a beautiful sunrise over Lake Powell. Once at the top we could see lots of red rock formations, canyons, and in the distance was Fifty Mile Bench a massive feature within Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument(GSENM).

We navigated our way around and then down into a drainage that led into Stevens Canyon. For a few miles we walked through the dry canyon as it snaked it’s way lower and lower. After lunch the route ascended the side of the canyon and we walked slickrock along the rim. This was faster than walking within the canyon and gave a different perspective of what it looked like from above. There were a few sections that looked a bit scary in the distance but as we got to them and were walking them they weren’t too bad. I would call these ‘just don’t look down’ situations. When we could go no further on the rim there was a spot where we could descend back into the canyon following a cairned route down some ramps and ledges. Back on the canyon floor it suddenly felt like a rain forest, it was cooler, there was lots of vegetation, and a good amount of water. The vegetation created some bushwhacking and the water caused some navigational trickery but nothing we couldn’t manage.

After a couple hours Stevens Canyon dumped out into the Escalante River, another tributary of the Colorado. QB and I went for a quick swim then waded downstream in the shin deep water for a mile and a half. The whole time with great views of the very impressive Stevens Arch. When we reached Coyote Gulch we took a right and walked upstream for a couple hours before finding a place to cowboy camp in the sand. I’ve been down this gulch 3 times now in the last couple years and I’ve yet to see a coyote. Really starting to wonder how they got the name.

10/1/19…..Hayduke Day 17…..11 miles

Coyote Gulch really does have it all: arches, waterfalls, a natural bridge, pictographs, cliff dwellings, giant alcoves, swimming holes. It’s quite a magical place. Well I guess it doesn’t have hot springs, so maybe it’s not that magical. It’s alright I guess. We walked up the gulch this morning until reaching Hurricane Wash then followed that up for about 5 miles until it became real desert again when we came to a trailhead on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. We were 40 miles out on the dirt road from the town of Escalante with very little traffic so we started walking. After an hour Hazer drove by and picked us up. He’s been interning for the GSENM and was out this way cleaning some remote public bathrooms. On the ride into town he enlightened us on raising cattle, hunting mountain lions, and all things rodeo. It was quite fascinating. Escalante is becoming a busier tourist town every time we come through and seems to have everything necessary to be a good little trail town.feel free to follow this blog and follow our instas for more pictures @endlesspsummer and @sarahikes

9/21/19…..Hayduke Day 9 continued…..8 miles

Before we got back to walking we paddled 14 miles this morning to Spanish Bottom, to read all about our boat trip you’ll have to refer back to my previous post.

After Keith took our rafts and life jackets with him back to Moab we were literally up a creek without a paddle. We took an extended lunch, jumped in the river and put our shoes on for the first time in days. And I was just starting to get my sea legs! We then packed what seemed like a massive amount of water and started up a steep thousand foot climb to ‘The Dollhouse.’ Nothing like easing back into it. The Dollhouse was a very cool feature with a bunch of these really odd looking sandstone hoodoos. From there we walked a handful of miles before coming to a ridge that overlooks ‘The Maze.’ This place is just other worldly! Its this huge sea of canyons and looks so unreal. We walked along slickrock for awhile until finding a good place to camp. It was a clear night and a good one to cowboy camp so we decided to forgo the tent.

9/22/19…..Hayduke Day 8…..22 miles

Immediately this morning we dropped down from our cowboy camp into the Maze and it was truly spectacular. I feel like I’ve seen my share of wild spaces and I’ve never seen anything like this. The Maze is a labyrinth of yellow, orange, and red rock canyons that create an absolute natural masterpiece.

Walking through the Maze was a gd treat. While we were walking through we took a side trail up Pictograph Canyon to check out the Harvest Scene, an ancient pictograph on a canyon wall. If you’re planning to come through here note that we didn’t find any water at Maze Spring(doesn’t mean it wasn’t there). We did however come across a pool of decent water just off trail to the right about a half mile beyond where we expected Maze Spring to be. The climb out of the canyon took us up an adventurous route. There were some steep sections with class 3 climbing. At times we had to pass our packs up to each other and scramble up cracks in the rock. There was one ledge we had to shuffle around and then make an athletic move to get up onto the ridge but it wasn’t as scary as anticipated. It was fun.

We got up onto a mesa and had a great view looking back over the Maze before moving on. The next 5 miles were on a jeep road that had a couple of sweet overlooks of Horse Canyon. After lunch we turned onto the North Trail that led into a wash that became the appropriately named North Trail Canyon before steeply climbing up and through the Orange Cliffs. The trail up through the cliffs was well cairned and easy to follow, it was just a steep climb in the heat of the day.

Our plan was to get to the Hans Flat Ranger Station to buy water. When we got to the mesa at the top of the climb I had service and found out the ranger station was closing at 4:30. At the time it was 3:10 and we were 4 miles away. Luckily it was a pretty flat jeep road and we were able to make it with a few minutes to spare. Not sure if we’ll have water for the next 30 miles, QB and I took as much as we could carry and walked another hour out of Canyonlands NP and onto BLM land. We’re camping a little off a jeep road in between some junipers.

9/23/19…..Hayduke Day 9…..17 miles

I wish we had walked just little further last night and we would have found ourselves camping with an overlook of French Canyon. Can’t live in the past though. We made it to the edge of the canyon this morning then picked our way down ramps and ledges before following a cow path for about a mile of cross country travel until we came to a stand still at the real rim of French Canyon. It didn’t look like it would go but after scoping it out for awhile we found the point to drop in and amazingly an old or maybe not so old trail started to develop. The trail zigzagged relatively safely lower and lower until we got to some large stable talus in the bottom of the canyon. Occasionally there was some loose scree but taking our time it never felt dangerous and the exposure level was low.

At the bottom of this descent we came to a wash filled with stable talus that we had to navigate for about a mile until it widened out and became sandy and easy walking. The wash went on like this for a few miles until it intersected with Happy Canyon. We took a right down Happy Canyon and walked on nice hard packed sand and slick rock for about 12 miles. As we walked this afternoon the skies went from blue to overcast. It wasn’t exactly threatening rain but I wasn’t going to bet my life on it. Eventually Happy Canyon becomes a narrow slot canyon for 2 miles and in the event of a flash flood it’s the last place I’d want to be. When we reached the point where we’d have to drop into the slot we stopped and evaluated the sky. After waiting a half hour and it didn’t become any better so we decided to call it a day and wait until morning to carry on. We found a spot to camp higher up overlooking the slot canyon and never did see a flash flood.

Oh yeah, there were a few times we came across small pools of water in Happy Canyon, lots of cows around but it didn’t look completely horrible. We had enough so didn’t take any.

9/24/19…..Hayduke Day 10…..21 miles

Well there was never any flash flood last night, still glad we waited until morning to walk through the narrows though. It was nice and clear when we woke up so walking through a 2 mile slot canyon was much more enjoyable without worrying about immediate death as we would have had we carried on last night. These slots were rad! They went on for a couple miles and got higher and tighter as we went. Eventually they spilled out into a larger canyon containing the Dirty Devil River.

There was water in the Dirty Devil but we passed on it as we had enough to get us to the next source. On the far side of the river was a relatively short but very steep climb up to an old mining road. There was a faint path and even a few cairns so the navigating wasn’t difficult. The old mining road was at the base of the Orange Cliffs and we followed that left for a mile or so until it became a more modern 4wd road. Along the way we had awesome views of the Dirty Devil and were tripping over massive pieces of petrified wood, I’d never seen so much of it in my life. We followed the 4wd road up into Poison Spring Canyon and after rejoining the Hayduke proper reached Poison Spring. I really hope it’s not actually poison because it is an excellent water source.

After lunch we walked this road for 9 more miles meandering through canyons in the hot sun until we got to UT Rt 95. After hitching for 10 minutes we got picked up by Walter and Mold, a thru hiker! What are the chances? He hiked the CDT last year and undoubtedly we know some of the same people. These guys dropped us off at Stan’s in Hanksville where I had the best blackberry shake of all time. feel free to follow this blog or find me on insta @endlesspsummer and QB @sarahikes

9/18/19…..Hayduke Day 4…..10 miles(river)

We took the last two days to rent a car and drive out to the middle of nowhere, UT to cache food and water for the future. Last night we camped just outside of Moab within Sand Flats Recreation Area. This place is a hub for Jeep owners, mountain bikers, and 4WD enthusiasts.

This morning we drove down into town to tie up some loose ends before we continued on the Hayduke. First we had to go to the post office to pick up our ‘pack rafts.’ Actually the pair of Intex Explorer 200’s we’ll be paddling are more like a glorified pool toy than a legitimate pack raft. Then we met up with our friend Quiet Earp who dug up some life jackets for us and gave us a bunch of tips about the river. We ate a couple meals, returned the rental car, and got a ride from Kim at Enterprise to the boat launch on the river.

While we were blowing up our pool toys and staring down the mighty Colorado, I was definitely having second thoughts. The wind was whipping, the water was choppy, and it seemed to be going backwards up river instead of flowing gently downstream like I was hoping for. Plus I don’t know how to paddle one of these things! You’re supposed to sit backwards and paddle it like a rowboat. I have zero rowboat experience(besides the 4 times I watched ‘The Notebook) and the last time I was on a boat like this was probably when I was 10 years old on Lake Ossipee. QB had a little bit more confidence, she was a Girl Scout and a camp counselor. What’s the worst that could happen? I got in and for awhile probably looked like a baby deer on ice but it didn’t take me too long before I somewhat got the hang of it. Luckily the wind settled down and there was a bit of a current that pulled us along while we figured out the paddles. And then after only 15 minutes I noticed my boat seemed to be leaking!

We pulled over and gave it a good inspection and found a few tiny pinholes on the topside of the raft. What the heck dude! I can’t imagine I did the damage myself but I guess I might have, I really think it was a defective boat and came out of the package like this. QB patched it and reinforced the patches with duck tape and that seemed to hold up for about an hour. I was paddling along just fine then suddenly I could hear the leak hissing and bee lined for the shore. The tape seemed to get wet and that pulled the patch off, so this time we put on just the patch and hoped for the best(our last patch already!). I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do because that seemed to do the trick. Fingers crossed!

Besides being a little nervous I would sink the rest of the day, paddling the river was awesome! With a gentle current we moved about 2 mph and had spectacular views of big red rock walls the rest of the day. From the boat we could see petroglyphs and mountain climbers on the walls. Because the road parallels the river for the first 15 miles of our trip people have access to the river and the canyon that it’s in. Around the time it was starting to get dark we got to an island across the river from a campground and set up for the night. 10 miles done, we just might make it in these things.

In total we have about a 67 mile stretch of river through Meander Canyon and then a similar amount of hiking to do before our next town, Hanksville.

9/19/19…..Hayduke Day 5…..22 miles(river)

Going into this trip my main concern was whether or not we’d be able to paddle these boats fast enough to make decent mileage. It hasn’t been simple but we’ve been moving along. As long as the weather doesn’t do anything too crazy and we don’t have any major hiccups I think we just might be alright. The patch was still on the holes and we still had two boats floating. QB insisted on switching boats this morning so she could keep a close eye on her patch job(I think she thought I would sink that boat.)

When we first got on the river this morning there was no wind and with the gentle current we seemed to move relatively quickly. Here and there throughout the day we’d face a significant headwind and would have to paddle pretty hard to make any progress at all. Other times when the water was flat and the current was just pulling us along it was very enjoyable. It’s actually a really nice way to travel, sitting backwards in a rubber raft with my feet up and just drifting slowly and effortlessly through a beautiful red rock canyon(one time we even had a tailwind!).

Seven miles into the day we passed the Potash Salt Mine and the last hints of civilization. This thing was a bit of an eye sore. Shortly after the mine we reached a boat launch where a guiding company was dropping off a handful of canoes and paddlers. As luck would have it there was a privy at the launch. I have no qualms with digging a cat hole in the woods but this is wag bag territory so any chance at using a toilet is a luxury.

The rest of the day was really uneventful. We stopped a couple times to eat and swim. We saw just one other party canoeing and a few jet boats that motored up and down the river with a bunch of guests on board. For wildlife I saw 3 bighorn sheep, 2 beavers, and a ton of great blue herons. At first I thought maybe it was the same heron I just kept seeing over and over again but then I saw 5 of them all at the same time. Other than that we just paddled through a beautiful canyon on a beautiful day. Shortly after we crossed into Canyonlands NP we found a nice place to camp on a big beach at a bend in the river.

9/20/19…..Hayduke Day 6…..21 miles(river)

For the majority of today it was smooth sailing, so to speak. We got up and just cruised for the first 8 miles to Lathrop Canyon where there’s a top secret privy, take note if you want to save a wag bag. Beyond Lathrop the wind picked up just a little for the next couple hours until we took lunch. After lunch it got a bit crazy. At first we were just clipping right along and even caught a really nice current at one point and then some seriously fierce winds hit us right in the face. The river was pretty wide at this point and the wind was going directly against the current causing some major waves. We stuck to the side of the canyon and a couple times had to pull over altogether and wait for the wind to subside. I’m not sure exactly what these Intex Explorers can handle and I’m not sure I want to push them to the limit. During this whole event I managed to put a little hairline crack in part of my paddle that I had to slap some duct tape on. For the most part the wind hasn’t been unmanageable but for about an hour today it was straight up unpleasant.

Once the wind and water settled down we got back at it and got about 6 more miles down river to a campsite on a beach right the start of ‘The Loop.’ This is where the river serpentines through the canyon creating a couple of goosenecks. Check out image of the map below.

9/21/19…..Hayduke Day 7…..22 miles(14 river, 8 hiking)

Wow! What a day! First of all absolutely no wind on the river which made the paddling super smooth and fast. Paddling through ‘The Loop’ was definitely my favorite part of the whole river section. There was a fast current and huge sandstone on both sides. Next we easily made it through ‘The Slide’ where the river narrowed due to an old rockslide and created a minor rapid, nothing these rubber rafts couldn’t handle. Shortly after that was the confluence of the Colorado and the Green River. In the last month we’ve walked by the glacier that is the headwaters of the Green River, hitchhiked through two towns named Green River(Wyoming and Utah) and now paddled by the spot where it ends and flows into the mighty Colorado.

3 miles past the confluence we reached our destination, Spanish Bottom. This is a big flat area surrounded by thousand foot high canyon walls across from a beach at a bend in the river. Earlier in the day we met Keith who was guiding a rafting trip down the river and we asked if he’d be able to take some gear back to Moab for us. Of course he knew Quiet Earp and he’d be glad to return the life jackets to him, as well as our rafts, paddles, and cake pan.(Per order of our permit we were required to carry a fire ring, not that we ever have campfires, and the cake pan would meet that obligation. It also doubles as a bailing device if I was to take on water and triples as an onboard urinal). This was super lucky and couldn’t have worked out better if we planned it , Keith got to Spanish Bottom at the same time we did and saved us about 15 pounds each of gear to carry.

From here we have about a similar distance that we need to walk to get to our next town and resupply but because the rafting was so unique I had to split the blog and the day into two posts. I hope you’ll understand. To be continued…..

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First of all the Hayduke is more of a route than a trail so I’ll do my best to refrain from calling it a trail. It basically goes across southern Utah from Arches to Zion traveling through all of Utah’s national parks and dips down into Arizona and through the Grand Canyon. We’ll be mainly following the route west from Arches and planning to take plenty of alternates. There’s no signed trail. Instead it consists of a blend of cross country travel, jeep roads, trail, canyons, mountains and a 60+ mile section of the Colorado River that we’re planning to raft. In total it will be roughly 800 miles and we expect to take about 2 months(with a couple of pre planned hiatuses). This will be much different than established trails I’ve done in the past as there will be longer water carries, longer food carries, slower foot travel, extreme temperatures, and difficult route finding. Wish us luck!

Sept. 10,11,12 from SLC to Moab

After hiking the Uinta Highline Trail, QB and I spent a night in Park City then made our way to Salt Lake where we spent the day exploring the city. In Salt Lake we stayed with our friends Johnny and Karla aka the Eggs from the PCT in ‘15. The next morning Karla drove us to the train station in Lehi where we took public transit to Spanish Fork before we started hitching. We got 3 rides that brought us all the way to Moab from Alex, Amanda, and Rob with a stop in Helper, Utah to check out the town.

As soon as we got into Moab we ran into Quiet Earp at the grocery store who we first met on the Arizona Trail in ’18. Quiet Earp is working as a rafting guide for an outfit in town and had all kinds of info for us about the section of the Colorado River that we’re planning on rafting. Plus he’s playing music tonight at a local open mic so of course we went to check that out after getting all settled into the Lazy Lizard Hostel.

The following day we got out to the La Sal mountains just south of town and did a little bit of fishing(struck out again)and a fair amount of walking. There’s an alternate start to the Hayduke that starts out here in the La Sals, which we won’t be doing, but we did want to explore this place a little bit as they’ll provide a distant backdrop for lots of views from Arches and Canyonlands.

9/13/19…..Hayduke Day 1…..3 miles

I never planned it this way, it just happened. QB and I woke up this morning camping in the Manti-La Sal National Forest outside of Moab, Utah. From our campsite we walked about 6 miles, mostly on road, until a truck finally came by and we put our thumbs out. Dean lives nearby and was going into town to pick up firewood. He drove us through Castle Valley, along the Colorado River and into Moab. On the way we heard from our buddy Mac who was supposed to start the Hayduke and hiking a section with us. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it and although this is a bummer it did give us an opportunity to rearrange our plans a little bit.

Originally our plan was to start hiking 9/17, walk 2 days through Arches into Moab, then pick up our rafts at the PO and float the Colorado for 3 days into Canyonlands before resuming hiking. For this we got permits for the river from 9/19-21. We also needed to rent a car to cache food and water at a couple of spots for later on during the route(this is a strategic move for sections that have wicked long stretches between water sources and resupply locations). The problem we came across today was that being a Friday, there were no cars available until Monday. We figured no big deal. We’ll start the hike tonight in Arches, which is about 26 trail miles to Moab, walk tomorrow and Sunday morning then take a 2 day road trip to cache food and water and most likely have a little bonus adventure before returning to Moab to start paddling on the 19th.

In town today we ran a couple of errands, spent sometime at the library figuring stuff out and of course ate a bunch of food before making our way to Arches. We got rides from Roy to the park then from Don and Lissa to the Visitor Center. At the VC Ranger Keely took care of us and set us up with a couple of primo backcountry sites. I couldn’t believe they had completely open availability for a Friday and Saturday night(Friday the 13th for that matter, and a full moon!). From the Visitor Center we got picked up by Chris and Anne, a German couple vacationing in the states, who took us all the way to Devil’s Garden. We had about a 3 mile walk to our site through amazing red rock fins and slick rock while checking out a bunch of arches along the way. Around sunset we got to the designated backcountry site and set up on some flat slick rock that was still warm from the day’s sun. As we ate supper the sky changed colors and the stars started to twinkle on.

9/14/19…..Hayduke Day 2…..22 miles

It was a hot one today and we knew it would be. We got up a little bit before sunrise but not too much because we’d have some off trail travel and that would be near impossible in the dark. It was awesome walking early this morning as the full moon was still out competing with the light from the rising sun.

From our campsite we walked along the maintained trail for awhile until we got to the edge of Devil’s Garden. We then descended a series of rock ledges and ramps before doing some cross country travel through Salt Valley to a jeep road. Walking cross country is difficult in the park because it’s imperative to avoid stepping on cryptobiotic soil (This is a particular kind of desert soil that takes years to build up and reverts back to nothing if stepped on, often times it’s already all smushed by cows but since there’s no cows in the national parks it’s greatest enemy is humans. Check out the picture below). The jeep roads were a breeze though and we walked along them for a few miles while the temperatures started to rise. We then left the road and picked up a fence line for awhile before dropping into a wash that we walked through until Willow Spring. Good thing we didn’t count on there being any water here because there wasn’t. Nice enough spot to take a lunch break though.

After lunch we continued down this drainage until it was joined by Courthouse Wash. Until this point in the wash it had been just slickrock and sand with a few narrow slot canyons to navigate through. When it became Courthouse Wash water began to appear and then suddenly some of the most vile and disgusting bushwhacking of my life ensued. It was just really dense reeds that we had to maneuver through, I sure could have used a machete but of course neither of us are carrying one. We had to keep crossing over the water also and at one point a beaver had dammed it and we were crossing through waste deep beaver water. At times it opened up and we could walk through sandy washes for awhile but inevitably we’d be right back in the middle of thick vegetation. It was pretty though, as we got lower the tall red canyon walls got higher and provided a nice backdrop to this bushwhacking nightmare.

When we reached the crossing with the main road in the park Tom and Michelle pulled over and set us up with some ice cold water, what a treat! We continued from there down into Lower Courthouse Wash. This had a bit more walkable trail and a little less of the nonsense. After a couple miles we got to a beautiful spot that we had reserved next to a large red rock wall radiating heat that was all stored up from the day.

9/15/19…..Hayduke Day 3…..3 miles

We only had a short distance to get to the road and back into town today but it still wasn’t simple. From our campsite we followed Courthouse Wash for 3 miles until it fed into the Colorado River. For a while there was trail or at least a dry sandy wash to follow then suddenly the canyon would become more narrow, the beavers would have a dam built, the water would back up and thick reeds would be everywhere. So even for a short stretch of hiking today there was still a fair amount of bushwhacking to do. Besides the bushwhacking though, it was awesome, much like yesterday where we walked through a canyon with massive red rock walls.

At the same place the wash reaches the Colorado it also reaches rt 191 which is just a few miles outside of Moab. We got a hitch into town from Josh and Nat then demolished breakfast followed by a couple donuts(we’ve been hiking for over a month now so even though this is the very beginning of a trail our hiker hunger is in full effect.) After breakfast we made our way out to Mill Creek Canyon, a local swimming hole on BLM land. This isn’t your average swimming hole, after about a mile walk into a gigantic red rock canyon there’s a waterfall into a large pool. It’s quite a place. If you’re ever in Moab and looking for a place to cool off I recommend it.

Our next section of the Hayduke involves a little red tape. We’ll be paddling 60 something miles of the Colorado River into Canyonlands NP and we’ll need permits for all but the first 15 of those miles. Our permits start on the 19th so we’ll be getting back on trail(river) on the 18th and camping somewhere before we cross into the park. Starting tomorrow we’re renting a car for a couple days and going out to cache food. @endlesspsummer

@sarahikes