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Begins: Mar 19, 2013
Date: Sun, Mar 21st, 2010
Start: San Diego
End: Courthouse Wash
Daily Distance: 32
Trip Distance: 32.0
Entry Visits: 1,655
Journal Visits: 68,120
Guestbook Views: 1,475
Guestbook Entrys: 28
Hayduke Trail Days 0,1,2
(General note, I'll probably write most of this journal in the first person since Skittles has his own journal at trailjournals.com, although when I say "I", I'm sure we will frequently be together).
And I was off! Well, almost. My flight was delayed a couple hours but I had such a long layover in Denver that it was no big deal. I met Skittles at the Denver airport. We had met once before when I was doing trail magic on the PCT in 2005 but that's it. We talked trail, etc and then took an 18 seat turbo plane with no bathroom and an open cockpit to Moab.
Our plan was to actually start hiking from the Moab airport as the Hayduke starts across the way in Arches National Park versus paying for a shuttle 20 miles south to Moab, staying overnight and then paying for a shuttle back north to Arches. Skittles had mapped out a nice route in but it started with 1.5 miles of night road walking on the main road and then 5 miles up a dirt road to the Klondike Bluffs trailhead. A friend of his had told him that the legendAry Billy Goat was in Moab for some reason and they traded messages and Billy Goat actually met us at the airport which was awesome. I hadn't seen him since 2009 and it was fun to trade stories and he also drove us to the Klondike Bluffs trailhead. This is the start of our Hayduke hike! (choosing your own adventure is a very Hayduke-like thing to do so choosing our own official start is in the spirit of the "trail").
We camped at the trailhead and it was a pretty cold night as I was staring off into the distant La Salle mountains which were covered in snow.
Day 1, 16 miles to Arches border
Well, day 1 being out of shpe, with backpack and without diet coke was a success. It was a chilly, windy morning and I said goodbye to Billy Goat and was off cross country to the Marching Men formation. It was easy walking through the low desert scrub and the views were outastanding. All the formations were really cool and I could barely look at my feet I was so awestruck on day 1. From the Marching Men I picked up a day hikers trail that led over to a popular part of the park and walk a couple hours on a popular day hikers trail past several arches and all kinds of towering formations to the Devil's Garden campground. It's a fairly inefficient route but we wanted to see the best parts of Arches so we are spending some extra miles here.
I met a volunteer ranger at the campground who kicked us out of the handicapped picnic table I was taking a break at and then lectured us about walking cross country on the cryptobiotic soil. Problem is that this ancient soil is everywhere which isn't very conducive to walking through the park as there are only a minimal amount of actual trails. He came back later and when he found out what we were hiking apologized and seemed real interested in our trip.
From the campground it was across the Salt Valley on a dirt road and then cross country to an old piupeline cut which I followed to camp. There were some footprints of what could only be other Hayduke hikers but how old I have no idea. It was an overcast day making for chilly but fine hiking and I fought and off and on again headache from I assume diet coke withdrawal and just exertion. I ended the day with brutal pain in the hips, quads and feet but that's day 1 for ya!
16 miles, camped Courthopuse wash
It was a warmer night and it even rained for an hour. I walked the fenceline for a bit to our first big sramble down to Willow wash which we executed quite perfectly I must say. Then it was choose your own wash adventure, winding my way down to Courthouse wash. Courthouse wash was much slower and more difficult than expected. I forgot that a flowing creek means more brush which means more difficult hiking as I had to frequently ford the small creek and find my way through the brush. Additionally the cat tails were crazy and when I walked through a bunch they would let go of all their feathers and go in my mouth and up my nose. And then there were the beavers who were busy cutting down trees and jamming up the river making it more difficult to get through. Who would have thought beavers would pose a problem on the Hayduke? It was warm in the sun but cool and windy in the shade as the day went on. Eventually I crossed the main Park road and the route through the wash became much easier and many more folks had tramped through. The canyon itself was gorgeous with huge canyon walls. The day ended and my thighs burned from chafing and there seemed to be sand in everything.
The Hayduke Trail is an extremely challenging, 800-mile backcountry route through some of the most rugged and breathtaking landscapes on earth. Located entirely on public land, the trail links six of the National Parks on the Colorado Plateau in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona with the lesser known, but equally splendid, lands in between them. Encompassed in the route are Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and numerous National Forests, BLM Districts, Primitive Areas, Wilderness Areas and Wilderness Study Areas. The Hayduke Trail is not intended to be the easiest or most direct route through this incredibly varied terrain, but is rather meant to showcase the stunning Redrock Wilderness of the American Southwest.
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