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Begins: Apr 7, 2011
Date: Fri, Apr 29th, 2011
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So, here we are in Escalante, Utah... 311 miles into our 800+ mile trek! Woohoo! It amazes me how much beautiful country can be in such a relatively small area. Everyday is spectacular in it's own way, never disappointed with the landscape we are walking through. It hasn't been easy, some days more so than others, of course, but all in all, it can be a real butt-kicker. We've walked through, climbed up and down, canyons, mesas, rivers, sandy and rocky washes. It all seems to be a far cry from the nicely blazed and well worn Appalachian Trail. This kind of trail comes with it's own set of rewards, which is why, of course, it is worth it. The main reward just being the sights. The big, big views, the 360 degree views, and all of the different kinds of canyons and colors.
As expected, OOO is a great hiking partner to have. He's great with navigation, which is essential over this terrain, and he doesn't give into my fear when I read ahead in the guidebook and get a little spooked about how they describe the upcoming sections. Aside from the navigation, what makes this trail difficult is maneuvering over, around, and through the terrain. We'll be walking in a canyon and come to a huge pour off, basically a waterfall without the water... and depending upon our direction we'll have to figure out how to get up/down it. Sometimes we have to climb up the canyon's wall, which can be steep with loose talus or scree, other times that's not an option and we have to go up/down the pour off directly. Placing our feet in cracks, using hand holds, passing our packs up/down. I have this fear of falling that can sometimes be overwhelming, but I try to keep it in check! I've had to use OOO as a ladder too! Placing my foot on his knee, in his hands, or on his shoulder as I maneuver whichever way we are headed, but luckily that was something more often occurring in the beginning of the trip! At one point we had to shimmy up a little crack in the canyon's wall to get up to the mesa. OOO basically built a step stool from the rocks to get me up to one foothold, and then just in a calm voice reassured me that I wouldn't fall. His phrase of choice has been, "low consequences Erin, low consequences." In his head no doubt though, are the words, "I swear to holy hell Erin, if you keep taking so long to go over these obstacles I'm going to lose my mind!" What can I say? So I say, Thank You!
The most recent section involved 25 miles along Escalante River. Without trail, of course. Staying on one shore as long as you could, bushwhacking, and rock hopping our way until it turns into sheer rock, then we would have to cross the river. 128 crossing in total. All from our knees to our chest in depth. We were moving down river, so the bonus was going with the current, and when the water was high the current wasn't all that strong. If it was, passing would have been impossible, at least for me. The river corridor was beautiful. Again, big beautiful canyon walls, a twisting river, large boulders everywhere, that if perhaps if we didn't need to dodge, would be a touch prettier. As we were camped 19 miles into the Escalante River section, I realized that I had left my camera at our last break... 2.5 hours back, probably about 4 miles. It also had my compass and ipod shuffle. Now this river was kicking my butt, especially because I had grown an aversion to all of the food I had packed. So it was easier just not to eat. To say the least energy was low. OOO decided because he could move so much faster than me, that in the morning he would go back for it... so he did... 4 hours later he was back, and then together we set off for the remaining miles. I'm capable too, I swear! I guess I just have never had a hiking partner that was so much stronger than me. But who knows, we'll be talking and he'll say, "man those last few days really wore me out." and I'll say, "really! are you kidding me? could have fooled me, you were still going so fast!" I don't believe in any of that internalizing your pain business, I say express it! Which is what I do naturally, I suppose :)
The trail has been a sight to see since day one. My body is covered in scrapes, scratches, and bruises because of all of the shuffling around, but it's been worth it! And nothing hurts too badly, so it seems like a good trade off to me.
We are both taking quite a few photos, and OOO is taking video. I've shared some photos already, but will of course share more, along with some of his video when it's ready to go! I'll keep track of some more stories to share too.
Just hanging out in town today... relaxing, my specialty. Hope everything is great with all of you. Love you all!