Day 16, 18? Miles
While I go back down to the water to do some ‘laundry’, the hiker I met yesterday is coming up. His name is Amos and I enjoy chatting with him. Laundry consists of rinsing my socks and shorts and doesn’t take much time to I’m soon behind Amos climbing up hill. I’m still a slow climber so he gets some fun pictures of me huffing and puffing below him. It’s too bad there is no soundtrack.
I’m in the picture above and I’m looking up at Amos in the picture below.
I was hoping the climb would be in the shade in the morning but it’s full on in the sun. Thank goodness we’re not any later because I’m already dying. I’m guzzling down the water from my platypus bladder. We take numerous breathers and chat a bit along the way. It’s fun to have the company along the way. We’re both relieved to finally make it to the top of the plateau.
Now it’s a fun walk on slick rock towards the trail head. My route has me leaving the trail and short cut cross country to the dirt road further along. I had decided I was going to stick with the trail because that would be easier but somehow think I see the dirt road I need to get to and it looks so easy that I change my mind. When I’m about 5-10 minutes in I realize that: A. I shouldn’t follow Nic Barth’s GPS track (the other one makes much more sense) and B. It’s much more involved than I thought and I’m crushing lots of crypto biotic crust. I decide to turn around and go back to the trail, should have stuck with my first instinct.
Now I’m on the hunt for Amos. If I can catch him I might get some extra water, he said he had a gallon in the car. It’s already really hot so it would be nice to have an extra liter or so. I have to take off my tights but try to keep up the pace a bit. Near the trailhead I hear a door close. Crap! I might just be a minute too late!
Thankfully he’s still there when I get to the parking lot! Woohooo! I chug some more water and take a liter from him. And what’s even better is that he offers me fruit! Did he know I had been dreaming of oranges earlier in the day? A banana, an orange and a grapefruit, and some chocolate too! I’m in heaven! I give him my trash in exchange, not the best deal on his end.
We chat some more about hiking and trails and routes. So fun! He has a YouTube channel, the backpacker diaries where he puts his trail videos. I’ll have to check it out when I have good wifi sometime.
I decide to carry out the grapefruit to leave in Haiku and Prana’s cache. We haven’t had fruit since we started.
The next 12 ish miles are brutal. It’s so sunny and hot and it’s an exposed dirt road walk. The scenery is gorgeous with red rock formations, canyons, some slick rock and the Henry mountains in the distance but I’m frying. Some cars stop and one asks if I’m okay. “Yes, thanks for checking”. Another stops and I ask how they’re doing. They’re fine! The tone in the voice insinuates that I’m crazy. I have to agree. Who in their right mind would walk this in this heat?
I have my umbrella out, it’s a life saver. At some point I break down and put some music on. The few cows along the road stare at me weird when I belt out some Queen songs. And do I wish I had a bicycle! Gotta love Queen.
As I’m walking, the idea of taking a break in town becomes more and more alluring. I decide to put out my thumb on the short section of highway I’m on before getting to my cache. There aren’t many cars and there isn’t much space to pull over but there is a spot just past the bridge basically where my cache is. There is a car approaching as I cross the bridge and I put my thumb out. Bingo! He pulls over! I don’t have a chance to check my cache but I hope in and am on my way! Woohooo!!
My driver is a Canadian on a road trip from Florida to Canada via California and he’s been visiting lots of scenic places along the way. I tell him to pull over at the scenic viewpoint towards Hite where we’d stopped on our caching trip. It’s great!
I didn’t fully realize that Hite was 44 miles from Hanksville but we have fun conversations the entire trip. My new friend even lived in Amsterdam for awhile and has visited the place I used to work while in college. We get to Hanksville in the dark but we’re able to locate the Hanksville Inn. It looks closed since much of it is under construction but they have a room available for me. Once the owner finds out I’m alone and hiking he gives me a discount. Sweet!
I think I’ll take a full day off to reboot. I’ve lost a bit of my enthousiasm for this hike but I think mostly because I’m tired and fried.
Day 14, 12-14 miles? Rough guess. Camp at Wooden shoe/Dark canyon intersection.
My tent has a tiny bit of frost on it in one corner. Those campsites in a valley near water are always a bit colder. Thank goodness I was underneath a tree so that helped a bit.
Just like yesterday morning I don’t feel very energetic. I wake up pretty early and am not sure I get enough good sleep. Or maybe I’m just worried about the climb up ahead.
The day starts with a steep cross country climb. The first section gets us to another ruin. We wish we would have pushed on last night and camped here instead. It’s much warmer and already in the sun. Plus it’s just a cool spot.
We then climb some more and are able to scout out the next section. The map has us go around to the left but also has a note that this isn’t necessarily the best way. We’re all looking at the slopes ahead of us and decide that the one on the right which we can see, versus the map route which we can’t see, looks doable. And it is. I’m huffing and puffing and we have some scrambly sections but we make it! What a relief!
I’m rather tired and have trouble catching my breath but we keep on pushing to the very high point of our route. Thank goodness we don’t have to climb all the way to the peak. Instead we skirt around and contour until we see an awesome open area with red gravel. Lunch!!!
I finally catch my breath and we’re up high enough, close to 8000 feet, that I’m able to get reception to call Greenleaf. They’re having a blizzard with thunder snow back home!
We on the other hand are baking in the sun, with just an occasional snow patch, as we finally make it to the Trail Canyon trailhead. Trail! Wahooo!!! We’re all very excited about having actual trail, maybe we can hike more than three miles in four hours like we just did. Oof!
The hike down the canyon is awesome!! Some great views at the top, decent trail and lots of trees. There are also some sweet potholes and I dump some water over my head to keep from overheating. I also fill up another liter bottle, who knows if there’s still water down below.
I’m loving the trail and since there’s no more cross country for a while I leapfrog with Prana and Haiku instead of hiking with them all the time. They want some more couple time and I’m loving walking and breaking at my own pace. I pass them and we meet up again at the trail junction with Dark canyon.
The trail crosses the now dry wash numerous times and it’s not always easy to find the trail on the other side. Now that I’m a bit behind Prana and Haiku I follow their footsteps but even then it’s a bit tedious. Still not complaining, it beats cross country!
There is another pothole in the wash, Prana and Haiku nicely wrote WATER in the sand. I don’t think I really need any but go check it out anyways and chug half a liter and fill up another liter. We’re hiking down hill so why not.
I pass them again and then we’re pretty close. It’s funny to see who finds the trail first. At some point I’m behind but pick it up while they are still in the wash a bit below. It’s like a treasure hunt. The trail has a bit less sandy sections than the wash but our shoes are filled with sand.
When we get to the junction with Wooden shoe canyon I’m happy with my extra pothole water and decide to camp here while Prana and Haiku are headed into the canyon looking for a spring. It’s nice for all of us to have a little bit of space and alone time.
Day 13, 12 miles
I had set the alarm for the early start this morning. It’s still pretty dark out but we want to get started at first light. I’d rather sleep some more, last night was cold again and I didn’t sleep all that great. But I hear the noise of the cook pot in the distance so I better pack up.
I don’t have much energy which sucks because I’m carrying about four liters of water and we have some uphill cross country to start with. We end up spending some time trying to figure out how to get out of the head of the canyon. We’re looking at a scramble out but deem it too sketchy. We backtrack a bit and find a safer way up. We soon make it to a pass where we have a good view of what’s up ahead. We’re now in sagebrush but also ponderosa pine. So sweet.
There is some trail and wash walking and in one of the washes we find an awesome pothole filled with water. Woohooo! Now we can drink up as much as we want and fill back up for the rest of the trek to the next water.
Next we’re looking for a 4WD track, we get a little confused but finally find it and enjoy some nice and easy walking with sweet views.
The next cross country stretch takes us a while but is quite fun. There is nothing sketchy just finding a good way across to the next ridge. I’m loving the small pines.
Near the end of it we end up a bit off course which turned out to be perfectly on course to check out the Native American ruins. I marvel at the craftsmanship. It’s a tower built by stacking stones and most of it is still standing.
A steep trail leads us down to the canyon floor and more water! Haha. We were carrying so much all day and here’s another source. But it’s better to have too much than too little so we happily tank up some more and I carry some extra for hot cocoa tonight and tea tomorrow.
We’re supposed to pick up another dirt road from here but it turns out to be more of a single lane cow path which fortunately works just as well. My legs get scratched up by the sage brush but otherwise it’s easy walking. We find some sweet grassy camp spots under some trees. I set up my tent so hopefully I’ll be warmer again tonight.
We have a cross country climb up to 8000 ft in the morning. I bet we’ll see some snow.
Day 12, 13? Miles
The 1.6 miles back to the main trail seem a lot shorter this morning than last night. It helps when you’re not tired.
We see four backpackers on their way to the arch, it’s kind of fun to see some other hikers on the trail.
We continue our way along Salt creek, sometimes down below sometimes higher up. We pass by a small cascade right around 11 which since yesterday just happens to be our new lunch time. Break time it is!
After this spot we pass by some cool ruins and pictographs. Then it’s on to see the All American Man. It’s a famous pictograph which, to be honest, looks a bit fake. We have a fun chat with two other hikers there who assure us there is water all the way up the canyon. There is also a hiker register and we discover there are two women two days ahead of us on the Hayduke. That makes four with the couple we met early on. Since that couple was sticking to the main route I was kind of hoping we would stop seeing footprints ahead of us. I guess that’s not to be.
(Above is not the the All American man.)
We continue on past an old cowboy cabin and have another sweet water break. Having water cascading in the desert is just so special. We only carry out minimal water since we’re assuming there will be water at our turn off since it looks like it from the map and what the hikers told us.
Just about two miles later we get to our junction and cross a dry creek bed. Crap! I walk a little bit up the other trail and Prana our trail. I just see dry sand and return to Haiku. As we’re discussing options on whether to walk the trail back or follow the wash back Prana comes back with good news. He found a big puddle of water! It’s not the greatest looking water but it’ll do.
I think we’re just filtering some and carrying some ‘dirty’ water so we can hike on a bit longer and make a dent in the 26 mile waterless stretch. Unfortunately they’re filtering more so they can backflush their filter to prevent it from clogging and they need water for cooking too. I’m getting chilled waiting and then we realize time is slipping away and it makes more sense to just camp. I’m pretty frustrated since I was really wanting to hike some more. I very much enjoy hiking with Haiku and Prana but I really miss Greenleaf right now, we do things so differently and it’s hard not to have him with me. It’s funny because Prana and Haiku’s hiking style is for the most part more similar to mine than Greenleaf’s is. When I find a campsite I have a little pity party but after about ten cookies, a cup of coffee and a hug from Haiku I feel better.
Day 11, 18 miles
We get up early because we have a big day planned but soon get distracted by the Cave Spring trail. It’s only .6 miles round trip and promises pictographs and a cowboy camp, we can’t skip out on that!
It’s cool to imagine people in the past living here. There are some relics in the cowboy cave like an old table, chairs and cans. The pictographs are cool and the spring is flowing. The hiking trail leads up and over the cave via some ladders and offers great views of the Needles in the distance. We’re loving it!
Back on track we road walk to the campground. We first pass by a group camp site and when Prana spots a privy we’re all very excited. I’m also super stoked about the garbage can and happily dump last night’s burnt dinner.
We now head for the start of the Peekaboo trail. This is an established trail and we see several day hikers and backpackers. There are some sweet potholes with better tasting water than the camp ground water so we stop and tank up here. Then we decide we might as well have lunch there even if it’s only 11am.
The Peekaboo trail turns out to be amazing. It goes up and over several layers of slick rock offering views of distant snowy peaks, the Needles and other cool vistas. The different colors and patterns of the rock layers are so neat!
This trail definitely ranks in my top 5 of most scenic day hikes. Near the end there is a spot where you pass through a hole to the other side of the ridge. Peekaboo!!
We spot the Salt Creek down below. The water looks lovely. Our final descent includes a long narrow steep metal ladder. It reminds me of the trails in the Whites at home. The bottles on our outside pockets get crunched but we make it down.
The walk along the Salt Creek is beautiful! The canyon has so many things to look at, rock formations above, the creek next to us, trees, shrubs… The trail isn’t always easy or obvious but I’m really enjoying it. We get to a nice swimming hole and I venture in to my crotch, it’s very refreshing but a little too chilly to swim. Prana and Haiku decide they’ll play in the water at a later time so I put my sandals on and follow a bit behind. I catch up and it turns out that having the sandals on works out perfectly because we’re criss crossing the creek numerous times. It’s hot out so it feels refreshing.
We find a beautiful spot for an afternoon break, big flag stones offer nice lounging and access to the water for washing our socks and shirts/dress.
We have another four hours after that until we get to the junction with the Angel Arch trail. The trail is often times sandy and we keep crossing the creek. Eventhough it’s official trail it’s not always easy to follow and in the end we’re getting pretty tired. My pack is also very heavy and I’m feeling it.
We make it to the Angel Arch just before dark (6:30pm) and are tuckered out. The arch really does look like an angel with the wings behind her. Very cool.
Day 10, 11 miles ?
I had a hard time falling asleep so I listened to some best of the 80’s music on my MP3 player. I’m not listening to music as much during the day since we have to pay attention and there is so much to see and keep me interested. In the evenings in camp however I get a bit bored sometimes and it’s fun to listen to all the new stuff Greenleaf helped me put on the player.
I’m a bit too warm with all my layers on but assume it will get cold again soon so just lay there being uncomfortable. Not too smart. Eventually I do delayer and fall asleep. Of course I do have to put layers back on when it does get colder. Ah, the troubles of sleeping outside.
Anyways, we have a short walk down to a wash which we follow until we hit a fork and turn right doing some more wash walking. There is some disagreement on which wash to follow at some point but we somehow all make it to the 4WD road we were headed for. Then it’s an easy and scenic road walk to within a mile of the Needles outpost.
A little before that we decide to eat lunch and I empty out my food back. I’ve been carrying two small packs of mayonnaise that I’ll never use up but don’t want to throw out so my last crackers are dipped in mayonnaise. Not the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
The last mile to the outpost is cross country which isn’t too bad until we hit some prickly stuff near a wash we have to cross. It gets even more fun when we have to hop a fence with barbed wire and lots of prickly stuff around. But that’s soon forgotten since we are on the road to the outpost and get there within a minute. Woohooo!!
Our boxes are still there and the package Greenleaf sent me with some items I requested is there too. There is no ice cream yet and the showers are under repair but otherwise this is a sweet spot to rest up and buy some miscellaneous items. The person at the register is super nice and so are the people helping around. It’s a very pleasant stop with just enough cell service to get some basic stuff done ( too slow for Facebook or journal unfortunately).
We would have stayed if the showers were operational and if there had been better phone service but at this point we had half a day’s rest and just decide to push on.
About a mile and a half down some alternate route we find a sweet camp spot and call it good.