Hayduke day 19

Day 19, 15 miles
Happy birthday to me!!!

I’m so warm and comfy sleeping on two z-rests and with the warmer temperatures. So sweet. 

We take our time in the morning but finally pack up. I leave my pack in the bushes and we drive back the four miles so I can connect my footsteps. It’s a brisk walk without the pack and we’re having good conversations so time flies by. 
I leave my stove and some other miscellaneous items with Trippin Ant to send home. When I’m by myself I don’t seem to take the time to make tea or coffee and I want to lighten my pack a bit. 
After picking up my pack we continue up the wash and soon get to a class 4 chimney climb. I’m glad to have Trippin Ant with me to hand my pack up because hauling it up with my rope wasn’t something I was looking forward to. The climb is not scary but it takes a bit of time for me to figure out how to position my body to get me through the narrower part. It’s fun once I figure it out. Here’s a picture of Trippin Ant climbing up. 

Trippin Ant is half up the chimney when he decides he doesn’t want to down climb it and on a whim he hikes with me almost all the way to Fiddlers canyon. He takes off running a little before we get there and is planning to follow the Dirty Devil River downstream where he’ll hopefully find a dirt road back to his car. I give him some of my water and my back up flashlight. 
We have a several miles in an area called the red benches. There’s a lot of red rock and shale and small washes and canyons. The navigating isn’t too hard and there are actually some areas where we’re seeing many footsteps from the Haydukers up ahead. There are at least 6 that I know of now. 
The views are amazing and there are two tall cairns built like a Jenga tower. The last one is about 8 ft tall. That must have taken some time to build. 

We have some cell reception on the plateau and I’m able to get a brief call out to Greenleaf and he sings me an awesome rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. We also find the fourth balloon on this trip but this one very appropriately says Happy Birthday. Of course that makes for a good photo opp. 

I’ve had such a good time hanging out with Trippin Ant yesterday and today. He’s hiked most of the trails I’ve hiked. We met on the PCT in 03 and then hiked the CDT in 04 but in different directions and never even met. Talking trail with someone who has done the same stuff and used the same guidebooks and maps is so fun. We laugh at how ‘puddle’ and ‘clump of trees’ were landmarks in the CDT guidebooks. And how poor the PNT guidebook maps were. Then he boasts how he was the first person to hike the Grand Enchantment trail westbound and I boast how I was the first female to thru hike that same trail and in winter ha! Aren’t we cool? He has actually done a really impressive loop hike in 2011 which I hope he publishes a write up of some day. The banter and stories go on all day and I’m sad to see him leave. How fun that he was able to come out and spend my birthday with me. 
He soon disappears in the distance with his tiny little running pack and I get to the entrance to fiddlers canyon when he’s long gone. There is only one good spot to go down it and I follow the track on my GPS but there is also a cairn so I can’t miss it. I look down and yowza that’s steep! It’s mostly rocks and gravel but if you carefully pick your way down it’s not sketchy. I’m glad to have my poles for stability on the gravelly bits. 

Fiddlers Canyon is amazingly scenic by the way. Looking down and walking in it it’s mesmerizing. So many things to look at. Sheer walls besides that spot where I came down. Giant red columns, meanders, cool rocks. What a cool place! 
As I’m walking along the bottom a guy comes up from behind. He’s just as surprised to see me as I am seeing him. It turns out he’s doing a float trip down the Dirty Devil and took a break to walk around and explore. We chat all the way to the river and then I find out he has a bike on his pack raft. He rode his bike from Hite to Poison Springs, then took the bike apart and inflated the pack raft. And now he’s floating back to the car. Sounds like a great trip! I watch him put everything back on the boat and decide that I’ll leave the river stretch for tomorrow. I have about an hour of daylight left and could get started but I’m a bit tired and this spot is nice. The water doesn’t feel too cold so hopefully with my neoprene socks it will be okay to ford in the morning. 

My new pack raft friend takes off and I go look for a nice camp spot. I’m on a bench a little bit away from the river and it’s warm and cozy. 

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