Hayduke day 27

Day 27, 15 miles ?, near hole in the rock road Zach’s cache spot
This morning’s first challenge is the Escalante River. After first taking the wrong approach to get there i.e. we tried following our little creek which turned into a mud fest and deep water, we find the better way to get there i.e. just following the trail we were camped along. Duh.

The Escalante is definitely flowing steadily and it’s pretty muddy and brown. The canyon is pretty for sure but we have to be very careful where we step. Sometimes we stay in the water a bit sometimes we criss cross and find use trails. The problem with the trails is that they end at a canyon wall and you have to find the best spot to go back in the water to the other side. At some point I scout and find myself hip deep in the water. When I entered it wasn’t that deep but two steps further it definitely was. Oof! I manage to climb back up the steep bank and we find a better spot to ford. There were one or two spots where we did have to wade to our crotch but otherwise it was mostly knee deep and not too bad. I’m glad we didn’t do the 25 miles original route through this river though, the approx 1 1/2 miles we did was fine by me. 
We leave the Escalante at the mouth of the Coyote Gulch and the water is a lot shallower here. A bit colder too. My toes are starting to get numb. We leave the water and change into our shoes to do an exposed section around some giant boulders. This has been described by several as really scary but I didn’t have an issue with it. It probably helped that I had dry grippy shoes. I’m so glad I brought my sandals on his trip! 
I change back to sandals again when we get back to the wetter section of the gulch and keep them on the rest of the day. The day is warming up and so do my toes. Coyote Gulch is a popular destination and we see about forty other hikers today. So many! I can see why, it’s beautiful. Two really cool arches, several giant alcoves, leafed out cottonwoods, cascades, it’s all there. 

There is one frustrating moment where I have to get around a cascade and somehow have to get myself up a shelf. There are a few options but none are easy. I finally settle on one that has a few rocks stacked to help get up it. It takes me hoisting my pack up and then about a half dozen attempts to launch myself up it and scramble up. Zach of course gets it in one try and with his pack on. Sigh. 
One of the guys in a group we pass has a PCT 2016 bandanna and we chat for a while. When he passes us at lunch he offers a Snickers bar and while I have enough food I can’t say no to a Snickers bar. When I pass him again later I give him one of my Stinger bars which are also tasty but I’ve just eaten too many of them at this point. Food trade, yeah!
When we enter Hurricane wash the water soon turns nasty and dries up. The walk is still pleasant and I enjoy the use trails. It gets more and more sandy and when the wind picks up we can’t quite tell if it’s raining or just sand blown in our faces. I put a rain jacket and sunglasses on and it turns out it’s mostly really windy. Near the end of the wash there are some cool narrows to wind our way through. When I take a pee break there is some noise in a tree nearby and an owl appears. Awesome!   

The canyon opens up and we soon hit the trailhead. The parking lot is packed! We get out of the wind behind a big truck to put the rain gear we had briefly removed back on. More for warmth than rain at this point.
I now have a short walk to my cache and leave Zach who has a cache further down the road. I wander a bit and am glad I have a waypoint because it’s hard to find the cache in the field of sage brush. Everything looks the same. While I arrive at my bucket it suddenly starts pouring rain. Thank goodness I already have my rain gear on! I grab my umbrella and hunker down behind the sage brush but there’s not much protection there. Unfortunately there aren’t any trees around so I hold my umbrella and try to get my stuff out of my cache as fast as I can. I dump my trash in, get some water out of the gallon jug and brave the elements. My umbrella is a huge help and I’m soon at Zach’s cache. Problem is Zach isn’t there. I do see something bright orange/red in the distance and wonder if that is Zach hunkered down under a tree. The rain eventually stops and the red thing moves. It is Zach and the red thing was his tarp! He makes his way over and we decide we’ve had enough for the day and camp right at his cache. It seems protected within a sand stone formation and there isn’t much else around but sage brush. We both eat lots of food and I’m very comfy in my somewhat lumpy tent site. 

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