Endless P Summer

8/29/20…..6 miles…..Aneroid Lake 

I was first made aware of the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon when I was trying to hitchhike across the country a few years ago. I forgot all about them until a few weeks ago when Sara and I drove right by these snow capped peaks and figured we should probably check them out at some point. Our plans got rearranged a little as they do and after bouncing around Washington and Oregon a bit now was the time to do some exploring. 

Yesterday, after bathing in the Deschutes river, we drove west from Bend and last night we slept in the car in the Sheep Creek dispersed camping area outside LaGrande, OR. This was our second(and much better) choice after unsuccessfully trying to sleep at a busy rest area on I-84 near Pendleton. Today, from Sheep Creek, we drove through Hell’s Canyon, resupplied and did laundry in the towns of Enterprise and Joseph, OR. ***Joseph, Oregon named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. The Wallowa Valley was originally their Ancestral homeland.*** In Joseph there was a car show going on right on the main drag through town. As our laundry washed we walked around and looked at shiny antique cars while their owners sat in lawn chairs listening to cowboy music and not wearing masks. Maybe ten percent of the people in Joseph wore masks. Other than that, Joseph was cool. I felt like the car show people didn’t accurately represent the town, I could be wrong though. And another thing, antique cars don’t really do it for me, unless you can sleep in them. RV’s, Vans, or cars and trucks converted to something of an RV are the only vehicles that turn me on.

A few miles outside of town is Wallowa Lake and a trailhead into the Wallowa Mountains within Eagle Cap Wilderness. We took our sweet time reorganizing our packs on a picnic table and didn’t get walking until after 5. It was 6 miles to Aneroid Lake and although the trail climbed almost 3000 feet we kept up a steady pace. At the lake we got a great spot and I had time for a quick swim before it got dark. I almost had a very unfortunate blunder while going swimming. As I walked down an embankment from our site to the water I dropped my clothing bag and watched it bounce right into the drink, luckily I scooped it out quickly and nothing inside got wet. 
8/30/20…..24 miles…..Crater Lake
From Aneroid Lake this morning we climbed up and over a chilly Tenderfoot Pass. In the distance we could see 8-10 mountain goats traversing across the side of a mountain. For the rest of the day any time either of us saw a bright white rock on the side of a mountain, we’d both stare at it for awhile waiting for it to move. I do this all the time. They were all just bright white rocks. After Tenderfoot we climbed higher up and over Polaris Pass. On top of Polaris we could see into the Lakes Basin Area and all the surrounding granite peaks. This place is sometimes referred to as the ‘Oregon Alps‘ or ‘Little Switzerland.’ Although I’ve never been to Switzerland I think I know why. Going down Polaris Pass there was about a thousand switchbacks(maybe not quite that many), and the first few were just a wee bit sketchy with the combination of loose scree and steep slope. We passed Frazier Lake and then ate lunch at Little Frazier Lake across from a waterfall. 

After lunch we climbed switchbacks to the top of Hawkins Pass and then dropped into a valley following the South Fork of the Imnaha River. Looking out from both sides of Hawkins Pass was impressive scenery. We followed the Imnaha for about 5 miles then turned up a trail alongside Cliff Creek for another 5. We came across a few floating heads on the trail making animal calls and carrying crossbows. Shortly afterwards a big beautiful bull elk crossed the trail about a hundred feet ahead of me. Hopefully he goes undetected by the hunters. 

Tonight we camped at Crater Lake, not to be confused with Crater Lake National Park. There seems to be no inflow or outflow to the lake and it must have been caused by a meteor. Lots of fish though, there was a bunch of ripples in the water and just as I was about to go in for a swim we watched an osprey pluck a fish from the surface and bring it to a nearby tree for dinner, majestically.

8/31/20…..22 miles…..Blue Lake 
We started our day walking downhill from Crater Lake on the Little Kettle Creek Trail. This trail wasn’t my favorite but we did see a black bear. I heard some rocks sliding so I walked through a couple trees and looked up on a hill and saw the little fella eating berries or whatever. The trail switchbacked way down over 5 or 6 miles to the East Eagle Trailhead on the southern edge of the forest, there was lots of bear scat along the trail which makes sense. We took a right on the East Eagle Trail following East Eagle Creek back up into the mountains. I saw a bear on this trail too but probably within 10-15 feet of me next to the trail. When the bear realized I was there it quickly skedaddled, absolutely bolting downhill. 

We ate lunch at the creek after about 7 miles then took a side trail up to a couple of alpine lakes; Moon and Hidden. The trail ended at Hidden Lake and it was in something of a cirque(wall of mountains). After exploring for a bit we backtracked back to East Eagle Trail followed it for another mile then took a left up and over Frazier Pass. If you’re feeling froggy I think you could climb up and over a pass behind Hidden Lake and drop down onto the far side of Frazier Pass. There’s no trail but both sides look manageable to the naked eye.

Down the other side of Frazier Pass we took a right and followed the Minam River trail to Minam lake. There was a 1 mile dead end trail up to Blue Lake from here so we took that and have a beautiful campsite next to Blue Lake within another cirque of mountains. Amazingly there’s nobody else camped up here. We actually hardly saw anybody all day, besides a few cowboys and their horses camped down by Minam River. 

9/1/20…..24 miles…..Ice Lake 
While yesterday was chilly and overcast all day and threatening the r-word, today was absolutely beautiful; warmer, sunny, no clouds. I swam in 3 freezing cold alpine lakes today and that’s really all I can ever ask for.

We walked downhill from our campsite at Blue to Minam Lake then up and over Ivan Carper Pass back into the Alpine Lakes Basin. From here we walked past Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap Peak, which the wilderness is named for, to Moccasin Lake. We then took a little detour to do some exploring. We followed an out and back trail that went up Glacier Pass and then down just a little bit on the other side to Glacier Lake. This lake was absolutely gorgeous, my favorite lake in the Wallowas so far and worth the extra effort to seek it out. After swimming we retreated the same way we came, climbing back up Glacier Pass, then back down to Moccasin Lake. We walked a few miles through the Lakes Basin to Lee Lake where we ate lunch and swam again. This lake has a 15 foot cliff that I’m sure people jump off but I wouldn’t recommend, I actually talked to some kids who were just leaving there that said they did it. In order to safely do it you’d have to clear a 6 foot granite shelf at the bottom, definitely not worth the risk to me. I’m just not confident enough in my leaping abilities.

After lunch we took the Lakes Basin Trail down and out of the Basin to the West fork of the Wallowa River. This trail leads all the way back to Wallowa Lake and the car but after a few miles we took another detour up to Ice Lake. The Ice Lake Trail climbed 2300 feet over almost 5 miles but it was well graded and an enjoyable climb. It went past some awesome cascading waterfalls and from the trail we saw a mountain goat in the distance(I’m always pointing out wild animals to Sara or rocks that I think are wild animals). When we got to the lake it was still warm enough to go for a quick dip, so before we set up camp we quickly jumped in and out just as the sun was setting. Just like the name implies, it was icy cold. Beautiful though and a worthy side trip as it sits at the base of some of the highest mountains of the Wallowas. 

9/2/20…..7 miles…..Antelope Resevoir CG, Southeastern Oregon

This morning we backtracked down the Ice Lake Trail to the West Fork of the Wallowa River Trail that leads to Wallowa Lake, where we started, and out of the mountains. Shortly after picking up this trail we got caught up to by Aladdin. We easily picked up each other’s scents and recognized one another as fellow thru hikers. Aladdin had been in the Eagle Cap Wilderness for the last 9 days scouting out a high route which sounded pretty awesome. We talked of long distance trails the 3 of us had hiked and when and came up with a handful of hikers that we all knew. Oddly enough, about a mile before we got to the parking lot we came across 3 more hikers that we had met before but separately; Allgood, the Punisher, and Iron Mike. Aladdin had known Allgood and Sara and I had met the Punisher and Iron Mike briefly in 2018 while we were hiking the Arizona Trail and they were on the Grand Enchantment Trail. Even stranger, just minutes before running into them we were discussing with Aladdin the GET and that we covered some it where it coincides with the Arizona Trail. I just got done telling him we had met GET hikers while on this section. The very people we were about to run into. Hard to follow I’m sure and eerie I guess but not completely shocking. My life continues to be a series of bizarre coincidences. Sara tells me that it’s a small world, and the hiking community is smaller than I think. Besides the chance encounter these three were doing something really cool, literally just starting out on an obscure 600 mile new thru hike called The Blue Mountain Trail(I think). I was a tiny bit jealous. 

Soon Sara and I were out of the woods and back at our car. We took a bath in Wallowa lake, did laundry in the town of Joseph and filled up on burritos and Chimichangas. From here we’re heading south. We drove a few hours to the Snively Hot Springs on the Owyhee River and then a couple more to a campsite on Antelope Reservoir. 

I don’t want to blow this place up but since only my mom and a few of her friends are reading this I feel safe writing it here: the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness are incredible. I recommend visiting and I definitely plan to be back to explore again. 

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Day 1…..24 miles…..Near Scott Pass, OR

The 3 Sisters are three beefy volcanos lined up north to south within the Oregon Cascades. The loop we are hiking is roughly 45 miles with then another 10 or so to summit South Sister and back.
Yesterday afternoon we climbed the ski mountain Mt. Bachelor just south of the Sisters then slept in the car not far from the trailhead. We started this morning from the Devil’s Lake trailhead on the South Sister approach trail. This was a good climb for about a mile and a half until it intersects with the Moraine Lake Trail. We followed this for 3 miles until joining the good ol’ PCT. 

Going clockwise the next 20 miles was smooth sailing on the PCT. I didn’t think I remembered this section but as I was hiking it all became very real, I could recall people I met and conversations I had while walking this section of trail 5 years ago. Today we passed through the Obsidian Creek area which is very cool but does require some red tape. You’re supposed to get a permit to
walk through at $3 pp. I didn’t remember doing this at all in ’15 but then Sara reminded me the PCT covered all these little permits. Anyway there’s some cool waterfalls, an excellent spring, and lots and lots of pieces of obsidian everywhere. Sara explained to me how obsidian is formed and if I listened more carefully I could relay that information to you. It’s basically when volcanic rock cools super quickly it becomes smooth and glass like, I think. Sure does look cool. We walked another 5-6 miles, passed through some lava fields, had great views of not only the Sisters but the other Cascades to the north and then turned off the PCT onto Scott Pass Trail and found a campsite shortly afterwards. Day 2…..22 miles…..near Moraine Lake

Very shortly after breaking camp the trail led us into a huge burn. Good thing we camped when we did, neither of us like to sleep in a burn when there’s a million dead trees hanging around waiting for a stiff breeze
to knock them over. The burn lasted about 10-12 miles and the last 2 miles or so  we had a bunch of blow downs to navigate around. It wasn’t all that pretty. The rest of the day was nice though. We started on Scott Pass trail and soon took a right on Green Lakes Trail which we’d be on most of the day keeping North, Middle, and then South Sister on our right. Near the end of the day we took another right turn to get back onto Moraine Lake Trail which we had started on. 
For most of the day we thought we’d have a shot at summitting South Sister this afternoon but we ended up taking our time. Instead we swam in a couple beautiful mountain lakes opposed to crushing all day and hoping we had enough daylight. We found a campsite just past Moraine Lake off the trail up South Sister very close to where we started yesterday morning. The plan is to summit in the morning then make our way back down to Devil’s Lake Trailhead. 

Day 3…..10 miles…..car

In order to go light on our climb this morning we left our tent set up and our sleeping bags inside then crossed our fingers and hoped nobody would mess with our stuff. Nobody did. From where we slept it was 4 miles to the summit with something like 3500 feet or gain. The first 3 miles were a solid climb with relatively easy to follow trail until we gained the ridge. The ridge itself, if you didn’t know any better, may have appeared to be the top of the mountain. It wasn’t. From there you could see up another another 1200+ feet to the summit of the volcano. Looking up there was a massive glacier to the right and a gigantic slope of red sand to the left. There appeared to be a very thin steep trail dissecting these two sections of the mountain and then the trail cut left across the steep red sand slope. It was actually
quite steep but nothing crazy.

We had small switchbacks all the way up until it cut left and it was much wider than it originally appeared. Once we crossed the red sand we reached the caldera and easily walked around the frozen lake inside of it to the summit of South Sister at 10,363 feet. From the top we had incredible views in every direction especially to the north where we could see the Cascades in a line all the way up to Mt. St. Helens. There was hardly any wind, not a cloud in the sky, and the smoke from nearby wildfires didn’t seem that bad. A beautiful day. On our way down we passed a million people so it seemed we beat the rush. There was even a wedding party climbing to the top where the couple was to be married on the summit. We gathered our gear that was untouched and walked two more miles back to the car. We drove half an hour to Bend with the gaslight on, ate burritos in town and bathed in the Deschutes River. 
This loop was pretty cool. A nice little backpacking trip. 

Undoubtedly the highlight was climbing South Sister. I remember when I hiked the PCT I heard some guys went and did this and it seemed like a fun side trip. Probably have to do it again next time I thru hike. 

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Day 1…..28 miles…..Cherry Mountain Trailhead

The Cohos(pronounced co-os like the way you would say co-op) Trail is a 165 mile footpath through northern New Hampshire. The southern terminus is at the Davis Path trailhead in Crawford Notch and it stretches to the Canadian Border in the North. We’ll be hiking from south to north. 
Yesterday Sara and I finished Vermont’s Long Trail, drove my car back to Smuggler’s Notch to pick up her car, then drove both cars to the tippity top of NH and dropped her car off by Third Connecticut Lake. From there we drove south to Crawford Notch and spent the night sleeping in my car before setting off in the morning. Along the drive we cached food about halfway in Stark, NH off rt 110 where we hid bear canisters in the woods stuffed with 3 days worth of ramen and Mike and Ike’s. Living in Massachusetts I have always felt that New Hampshire pretty much ends at the White Mountains. Boy was I mistaken. There’s so much more up here in The Great North Woods, as they call it and I’m about to find that out.
This morning we rolled out of the Subaru, crossed Bemis Bridge and climbed up Davis Path towards Stairs Mountain. The Cohos Trail goes up and over Mt. Isolation then drops way down to the Dry River. Actually not dry, we crossed it in knee deep water. From there we climbed up over the Presidential Ridge near Eisenhower, took a left on the AT and followed that for a quarter mile then dropped steeply down Edmonds Trail. We finally had some easier walking on snowmobile trails once we got to the bottom. After passing the Mt. Washington Hotel monstrosity we went west on 302 for a bit. 
For dinner we grabbed gas station sandwiches and walked another mile before looking for a place to camp. The Cohos Trail runs along Old Cherry Mountain Road which has ‘primitive’ camping but everything was taken. These are sites carved into the woods with no toilets or electrical hookup. There were cars in every single one of them. Besides the primitive spots, the woods are so thick with brush it’s next to impossible to find a spot for the tent. We walked a bit longer than we would have liked to but finally found a spot in the woods right across from the trailhead up Old Cherry Mountain. A pleasant and productive first day on the Cohos Trail. 
Day 2…..25 Miles…..Mt Weeks Summit
Yesterday I forgot to dry out my sleeping bag. We got rained on at some point, my bag got wet and I forgot all about it until we set up camp. Sara and I made due with 1 sleeping bag for the night. Fortunately it wasn’t that cold out and we were both exhausted and able to sleep. From our spot next to the trailhead we walked up and over Mounts Martha and Owls Head(the other NH Owls Head). Finally seeing some Cohos Trail signs and yellow blazes we followed these down through a series of snowmobile and rail trails around Pondicherry wildlife sanctuary before doing a decent road walk on 115A. Before starting the road walk I think I saw a bear. I can’t confirm it, it was either a bear or bigfoot, but I think it was a bear.
At the junction of 115A and Rt 2 there’s a country store attached to an Irving gas station. This place has massive subs, both thumbs up, and good pizza. We took our time eating lunch, went back in to pick up a few things for a 1 day resupply then sat on the porch doing some housekeeping; organizing food and cleaning our feet and stuff. We had been there for about an hour and as I looked over towards the gas station I thought I saw my cousin’s husband pumping gas. As I walked over to get a better look, my cousin Kate walked out of the store! Kate, John, and their daughter Mila were up here on vacation and were coming from Santa’s Village. And it was Kate’s birthday! What a treat. I know we’re only 3 hours from the North Shore of Boston and to see someone from home isn’t outside the realm of possibility but at one of the only places we’ll stop this whole trail, and a first cousin, that was quite a coincidence. 
After an unexpected visit with family Sara and I walked up the Starr King Trail towards Kilkenny Ridge. A few miles later my back started burning like a son of a gun. It felt like somebody was simultaneously pulling out every single one of my back hairs. I took my shirt off and Sara wiped my back off, gave me an examination, and a diagnosis: heat rash. Neither one of us knew the cure. For the rest of the day I adjusted my pack so it wasn’t directly on my back and it seemed to help a little. We rolled along Kilkenny Ridge summitting Waumbek and a few smaller peaks before setting up on top of Mt. Weeks. My back seemed to get better for now which is a big relief. 
Day 3…..27 miles…..Percy tent site
This morning we continued on the Kilkenny Ridge Trail slowly for another 15 miles. We went up and down a few smaller peaks and topped out for the day at Mt. Cabot, the northernmost 4000 footer in New Hampshire. On the way up Cabot we met a pair of southbound Cohos Trail thru hikers, Goliath and Handsome Dan. Long distance hikers, if we didn’t know the same people we knew the same trails and traded info with them on stuff coming up.
Eventually, after what seemed like forever, we got off the Kilkenny Ridge trail and found ourselves at South Pond. This pond is at the northernmost part of the White Mountain National Forest. There’s a beach here and a swimming area. While the other beach goers did their thing Sara and I took baths washing off a few days worth of bug spray and B.O. It was extremely refreshing. 
Leaving the pond we had a few miles of road walking, crossing rt 110 then the Upper Ammonoosuc River and entered Nash Stream Forest. We located our hidden bear canisters with our untouched 3 day resupply in them and took a few minutes to organize our food. I think we have now entered the Great North Woods and virtually everything up here is uncharted terrain for me. I’m very familiar with WMNF but I’ve only been hiking north of Cabot once, it’s all brand new to me. Sara and I walked another 6 miles with the last 2 being extra grueling and got to camp at the Percy tent site. 
Amazingly today my heat rash on my back all but vanished. I did my best to keep my pack off my back and the weight of it more on my hips but other than that I didn’t do much to cure it. Had it been as bad as yesterday I would have considered getting off trail at rt 110 and figuring out how to get back to my car. 
Day 4…..29 miles…..Panorama Shelter
Today started off innocently enough. A nice 4 mile downhill to a waterfall with an excellent swimming hole. A cool dip was a perfect way to start the day. 
For the rest of the day we just walked. Here and there we find ourselves on decent trail for a few miles but I’ve noticed much of this trail is a conglomeration of snowmobile trails, road walks, atv or jeep roads, rail trails, and old logging roads. I don’t hate it, I’m enjoying myself, but it hasn’t been super scenic and the trail at times is just ok.
This afternoon we walked through the Balsams Ski Resort. I thought someone was supposed to build a big resort up here but this place looks like a thing of the past. There sure was a huge hotel in the distance though. We dropped way down to Dixville Notch, crossed rt 26, then climbed way up on the north side. Dixville Notch is a highlight of the trail (also the place where the first presidential ballots are cast every 4 years). There’s cascading waterfalls and great views from steep jagged cliffs on both sides. Sara and I had planned to camp once we got up the north side but there was nothing even close to suitable. Another thing about this trail, camping options are very limited. We had to crank out another 3 miles at sunset to Panorama shelter and got in just before the rain started. 
Day 5…..30 miles…..Pittsburg, NH 
All night it rained absolute buckets. Sleeping in the shelter the sound of the rain was amplified by the tin roof making it even scarier or more soothing. We were very lucky to push on last night. Had we set up it most likely would have been in an uneven campsite probably right in middle of the trail somehow and we would have got soaked. 
Although the rain had stopped this morning we still got soaked through splashing in puddles, mud, and walking through wet ferns. The trail turned to road after half a dozen miles and the skies opened up on us. We walked through an empty Colebrook State Park and then had a series of road walks for most of the day. Our goal today was Young’s Store in Pittsburg, 30 miles from Panorama Shelter. It was ambitious especially since it closed at 7pm but with about 20 of those miles on road or ATV road(this area is a hotbed for ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts) I felt pretty confident we’d get there. Since we were a bit ahead of schedule we both had enough food to only be a little bit hungry before finishing the trail tomorrow. By the afternoon we had moved fast enough that we had time for a nice lunch and quick swim in Lake Francis. 
We got to Young’s Store by quarter to 6, got subs, macaroni salad, ice cream and a little bit of food to supplement our bags for tomorrow. There’s cabins for rent across the street so we decided to rent one for two nights. This way we can slack pack the last 25 miles to the border then drive Sara’s car back here and totally relax for a night. 
Day 6…..25 miles…..Canada
Today’s hiking wasn’t great. Sara and I were both glad to be finishing up the trail but the miles today just didn’t have much going for them. It poured again overnight which didn’t help and when we got going at 6am it was already warm. The cloud we were walking through felt like a steam room and the overgrown snowmobile trails were muddier than usual. 
We spent all day within the town of Pittsburg, the largest town by area in New England. The trail parallels rt 3 and took us by 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Connecticut Lakes. These lakes are the headwaters of the Connecticut River that becomes the NH/VT border and flows all the way to Long Island Sound. Once we reached the Canadian Border the Cohos Trail takes a left for nearly a mile up through the clear cut which is the actual border. Don’t write off this last mile as easy clear cut walking. It’s anything but. After climbing about 500 feet the trail comes to 4th Connecticut Lake and does a small loop before returning to the clear cut then the dastardly mile back to the road. When we got back to the road we walked past the border patrol office then a mile south into the USA where we left Sara’s car by 3rd Connecticut Lake. We jumped in the water and washed off all our sins. Tonight we’re staying again at the Mountain View Cabins in Pittsburg. So rewarding and comfortable! 
Overall Sara and I had a good time out there. We beat the bag out of the trail and had fun. It was difficult but we kind of did that to ourselves. Had we slowed down and taken another day or two it probably would have seemed significantly easier. The weather however, didn’t make me want to stick around too long. I probably wouldn’t hike this trail again but like I said it may have been more enjoyable if we took a bit longer. Also just like the Long Trail, the time of year to hike probably isn’t the dead of summer. One other thing, it might be better to hike this trail south as it gets more mountainous in the south.

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7/19/20…..10.5 miles…..Bear Hollow

This will be my last installment of Vermont’s Long Trail. From Smuggler’s Notch(rt 108) to the Canadian border is my fourth and final section. 

If you’re confused reading these posts, note that I haven’t done the Long Trail in order. In 2015 I hiked the southern most section from Massachusetts to Sherburne Gap, then again while thru hiking the AT in ‘16 I repeated that section. In ‘18 Sara and I hiked from Lincoln Gap to Smuggler’s Notch and in ‘19 we hiked from Sherburne Gap to Lincoln Gap. 

Due to Covid-19 Sara and I figured hitching would be potentially unsafe and more of a pain in the ass than usual so we drove two cars, dropping one at Journey’s End road in Jay, VT then drove the other south to start our hike from rt 108. After about 5 hours altogether and shuffling cars around we started our hike steeply up through the Smugglers Notch Ski Resort. This trail is rugged! I’m reminded of that every time I come out and start on this trail. It feels like it’s always either straight up or straight down and packed with rocks, roots, and mud. Always mud. Unless we come across it in the next 55 or so miles there is very little cruiser trail out here. And it always seems hot and muggy and buggy. Section hiking is definitely tougher than thru hiking. There’s so much more logistics getting to and from trail and you’re always starting fresh. When you’re thru hiking you only have to start once and after a few days your body is conditioned for the next two thousand or whatever miles. But today my body felt good and we had a great day out here, just not my favorite trail. We topped out on Madonna Peak, the summit of Smugglers Notch ski resort and had an excellent refreshing swim in Sterling Pond. This evening we even got a nice mansplanation of every nook and cranny of the next 4 miles of trail trail from an adult wearing a gun on his hip in a camouflage holster. I spent those 4 miles wondering what that guy was so afraid of that he needed to carry a gun out here for.

We made it to a flat spot out front of the Bear Hollow shelter and had our dinner in the tent as it started to rain. 

7/20/20…..28 miles…..Belvedere Peak

Today was a banger of a day out here. Nothing like easing into the hiking season with 8000 feet of vertical over 28 miles on the Long Trail. Since shelters are gross even when there isn’t a pandemic going on we slept in our tent last night and got poured on. It wasn’t the best night sleep, it was wicked hot, then it poured. Luckily we had about 7-8 pretty chill miles right away. It was a very gradual way to wake up. Once the sun came out we stopped and dried out all our stuff from last night. The trail then went up and down all day in muddy, rocky, rooty conditions typical of the Long Trail. It was hot and humid, not quite as bad as yesterday but still, and it was buggy. Sara either wasn’t getting bit or was keeping it a secret because even with deet on and wearing a bug net I was still the object of the deer flies desire. Today also had some of the highlights of the whole Long Trail, especially the showers we took at a waterfall pouring over a cliff. Shortly after that I busted my ass in a mud puddle, but I guess that’s why they call it ‘Vermud.’ We also went through Devil’s Gulch which is a short chasm through big boulders, something like a miniature Mahoosuc Notch if you’re familiar. Tonight we’re camped in some trees just off the summit of Belvedere Peak which has some awesome views in all directions, some of the finest I’ve seen on this whole trail.

7/21/20…..21 Miles…..Shooting Star Shelter

Never have I spent more time walking and covered less ground than I did today. I smell like I’ve been out here for a month. The trail was extra slow today. Super steep climbs followed by steeper descents on slippery rocks were interrupted only with muddy flat sections that we had to tiptoe around instead of ending up knee deep in mud. There were no easy miles today and we were traveling at a warp speed of 1.5 mph. That being said, it was much cooler out and there were no bugs which was a big relief. The highlight of today was a climb up to the top of Jay Peak. I had planned on skiing Jay in March but the mountain(and the world) closed early due to Covid. At the top we had great views in every direction. We could see Lake Champlain and into NY to the West, North into Quebec, East to Mt Washington in NH and to the South back to Mt. Mansfield and beyond on the Long Trail. This evening instead of making it back to the car like we had hoped, we finished our day tenting outside of Shooting Star Shelter. 21 miles with 7000 feet of gain in almost 14 hours with very little dilly dallying.

7/22/20…..5.7 miles…..Canada

Done with the Long Trail! This morning’s miles were rather smooth and in a few hours we reached the clear cut through the forest with the monument symbolizing the end of the trail and the Canadian border. It’s actually quite a nice terminus as long trails go. There’s a view north into Canada and a boulder perched up above the obelisk looking down towards the clear cut border. Sara and I high fived, took a few pictures, and vowed never to step foot on this trail again(just kidding, but seriously). We enjoyed ourselves but the trail itself isn’t my favorite. I’m not sure how much I would recommend this trail to prospective hikers. Well let’s say this; maybe don’t hike the Long Trail in the dead of summer. Hiking the LT in the fall is probably much more enjoyable, not that I’ll ever know. And I think I’d rather hike it in one shot, I prefer thru hiking but since I live relatively close to the Vermont I figured I’d hike this trail in sections whenever I could fit it in.

Once we reached the border we took the 1.5 mile side trail to the parking lot where my car was waiting. Our plans were to shuffle the cars around and begin hiking NH’s Cohos Trail tonight but zigzagging up and down Northern Vermont and New Hampshire took a fair amount longer than we expected. We settled on a bath in a lake and a full night sleep in the car at the Davis Path Trailhead and starting the Cohos Trail the next day.

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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.

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

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!