Hayduke day 21

Day 21, 18 miles
I can feel last night’s miles when I wake up. I have a good case of the “I don’t wanna’s”. Fortunately there is an amazing sunrise which has to be photographed so I have to get moving. 

I walk a dirt road and have the Henry mountains in front of me and the desert below. Incredible views all morning. There is a short section where my map has me leave the road and go in a wash to walk around a hill. I get a bit confused when I see Haiku and Prana’s foot prints going the opposite direction of mine but I continue and see others going my direction. Maybe Haiku and Prana are following a different route, who knows. 
In the wash there are foot prints going both directions but I check my GPS and I’m following the line perfectly. I guess there are just some people doing this section in the opposite direction. Pretty rare for this trail so far. 
Out of the wash I soon pick up a road again and follow it to another one. At some point I look up and to my surprise there is another hiker. Maybe it’s the guy we saw at Kane Springs road? We’re climbing steadily so I very slowly catch up. It’s a tortoise race. Haha. 

It is indeed the guy we saw earlier. His name is Zack and he’s hiking the Hayduke as well. We hike together for the rest of the day. How fun! At lunch we both have to decide if we’re going to do the high route over the mt Ellen summit ridge or the low route. We’re weighing our options when a dirt biker comes down and tells us there is lots of snow around the corner still. That helps us make our decision. I had originally thought I’d do the low route unless I’d see lots of footsteps going the other way. I really don’t like postholing but if there had been tracks I might have been okay I figured. 
Zack and I both are happy with staying lower and he points out the high low route which cuts over to join the high route before the low low route. Maybe we’ll do that and still have views but not the north facing slopes. 
We walk along and pass a few clear streams with melt water, so sweet! The views up to option for our turn off are incredible. The low desert red is reflected in the bottom of the clouds. I’ve never seen anything like it! 

Low desert below, snow and peaks in the distance and above, and awesome clouds. I’m loving it! 

We decide to go for the high low route and hope there won’t be too much postholing. We only run into a little bit of snow at first but when we turn a corner and hit a shady spot it’s a little bit more than we wished for. I put my neoprene socks on hoping they will keep my feet warmer and Zack puts some gaiters on. We go on a little bit and the snow is deeper than we had before and it’s hurting my bare legs. Knee deep cold snow, yikes! I pull over at the first dry spot and put my rain paints on. This makes a huge difference and while my feet are still a bit cold I’m pretty comfortable. Luckily the snow doesn’t get any deeper than my knees and it’s very wet but easy to push through. 

We’re happy when we’re out of the shady section and only hit a few more deeper patches after that. I’m glad we picked this route because the views were worth the bit of extra effort. 
Near the top we have some cell reception and I can let Greenleaf know I found a friend and we made it past the snowy sections safely. 
Now we have a bit of fairly straight forward cross country down a ridge. We’re doing pretty well trying to avoid some trees and cow poop. My solar collector gets knocked off but it was time to put it away anyways. When we make it down to the road it’s after 6 and we debate whether to find a campsite or walk on. We decide to walk on while looking for the perfect site. We settle for a sweet spot in the trees with nice duff. It’s pretty cozy in here. 

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