Planning for the Hayduke Trail! And other exciting things



Readers! I’m going to hike the Hayduke trail. The “trail” part is actually sort of a misnomer, as the Hayduke is a backcountry route- an 800-ish mile traverse of the Colorado plateau in Utah and Arizona via sandy washes, old jeep roads, slickrock, slot canyons, bits of existing trail, etc. The Hayduke is the creation of Joe Mitchell and Mike Coronella, two chill dudes who wanted a person to be able to see/traverse all of the interesting shit between Arches and Zion on foot in a winding, indirect manner. I’ve been hearing about the Hayduke for a while, and as far as I can tell it is everyone’s favorite challenging/adventurous/potentially sketchy desert route. Desert adventure is my favorite, especially when it involves tricky navigation, climbing over/around steep convoluted chunks of the earth, and complicated water source scavenger hunts. The Hayduke, from what I can gather, has all of these things in spades.

There is no perfect time of year to hike the Hayduke, as temperatures on the Colorado Plateau stay uncomfortably cold until spring, at which point they become uncomfortably hot. The desert southwest has been getting storms aplenty so far this winter, so it seems likely that there will still be snow at the higher elevations come Hayduke time. Right now, my tentative start date is “sometime in March.”

I’m not sure what my blogging will be like when I’m on the Hayduke. I likely won’t do the daily-style posts, as I am bored to death of that format, but I might write a post for each section. That gives me a little more creative flexibility I think. I’m trying to keep it fresh and interesting here, ha. Or, I might take notes and write about it afterward, in an attempt to produce something more quality. We shall see!

In planning for the Hayduke, I’m using these resources:

Buck 30’s advice for future Hayduke hikers
The Hayduke Trail guidebook
Andrew Skurka’s info packet

Another really exciting thing in my life- I found a place to live in northern Arizona until Hayduke time! For the fist time in eight months, I have an indoors. I live at a place. I don’t have to worry about where to park my van, or about being stealth. There are outlets to charge my electronics, I can make tea whenever I like. I can prepare simple balanced meals and eat them at my leisure. I have a refrigerator for storing leftovers. I have HEAT. If I go running in the cold winter until I’m near-hypothermic, I can return home to a hot bath. And best of all, my new indoors place provides me with the quiet, unmolested, comfortable, temperature-controlled environment in which to WRITE. A room of one’s own, as they say. As much as I love the romance and idealism of vandwelling, and the way I slept in the wide open desert and woke to the sunrise each morning, the logistics of it can become a full time job, especially in winter. I NEED stable, consistent, low-stress indoor space like what I have now in order to really focus and be productive with my writing. I literally can’t have anything else blocking out the emotional bandwidth in my brain. I need ALL of it. I’m using these next two months-ish before the Hayduke trail to work on the first draft of my next book- I’m attempting to FKT that shit. Here’s the challenge: write the shittiest first draft imaginable in sixty days. Nothing matters but word count. Part of the first draft is already written, so two thousand words a day until Hayduke time should get me there. Distance = Rate x Time. Just like thru-hiking.

I wish I could tell you about the book, but I don’t really know how to describe it yet. It’s my train book. The title is The Sunset Route.

I found some cool stuff on the internet this week!

The most recent episode of This American Life is incredible, especially if you’ve ever been a woman online. Or if you’ve ever trolled someone. Think before you troll, people. The things you say as a troll are real, even if they don’t feel real when you’re hiding behind your computer screen. You’re actually attacking another human being. And casting some very dark magic against yourself as well. That shit is real.

This American Life: For Whom the Bell Trolls

I found a really good trail journal! There are hundreds of trail journals out there, and lots of them are entertaining and nice to read, but now and then one rises above the others and leaves the reader like WOW, OMG. A hiking blog in the hands of a talented, dedicated writer is a wondrous thing. A magical escape from regular life. An internet treasure! I actually met Amanda on the Colorado Trail/CDT last summer, but just now found her blog. She’ll be hiking the PCT in 2017. I’m stoked to follow along.

Brown Girl on the (P)CT

Also, have you read Rocket Llama’s trail webcomic yet? I think I’ve linked to it before but it’s really good and the only thing of its kind, as far as I know. And she’s consistently adding pages. Her illustrations are dreamy!

Rock on Rocket Llama

Speaking of graphic novels, here is a superb interview with graphic novelist Nicole J. Georges. I met Nicole when I was 26. She was the first person I ever met who actually made a living off of her art. Like, she had quit her full time job, and she was making it work. There was a hand-written schedule taped to her fridge, breaking her day into productive chunks. She worked seven days a week, from morning until bedtime. At the time I didn’t know anyone else who even thought it was possible to make a living off one’s art, and yet here was Nicole, doing it.

Women and Comics: An Interview With Nicole J Georges

Ok! I’ll keep you all posted as I get ready for the Hayduke. I’m so excited for desert adventure magic.

p.s. come find me on instagram, I’m doing a book giveaway there.