Hayduke trail day one: lumpkins

March 18
Mileage: 6?

What even is the Hayduke.

We take two days to drive from Sedona to Moab. It’s hard to say goodbye to my apartment- goodbye oven, goodbye refrigerator, goodbye bathtub. Goodbye evenings spent binge-watching Game of Thrones on goodbye couch. I had an indoors for 3.5 months, now I live in a van again. For a time I could “do my hair”, now it’s back to braiding it and wearing hats.

We stash Dan’s car in bright windblown Kanab, Utah and then wind our way through “Canyon Country” on beautifully passible dirt roads in my van. (We keep waiting for the roads to turn to shit, we make jokes about taking my van off “sweet jumps”.) We bury food caches in auspicious places, eat only junk food, and feel generally at peace. The second night I light some candles in the van when we’re chillin at a dirt pullout next to a moonlit canyon and next thing I know I’m holding a hanky that’s caught fire with flames racing up towards the roof of the van and Dan is trying to unlock the back doors and then we throw the hanky out into the dirt and toss some water on it and everything is gonna be ok. So don’t light candles in a van, maybe. It’s kind of a small space.

The third morning we reach Moab. My friend Ole from PCT 2013, who lives in Moab, has offered to give us a ride to the Hayduke terminus at 4 p.m. (thank you Ole!!), so we do a few last-minute things and then hit up the pizza buffet at Zaks, where I steal bites of Dan’s pizza until I’m in a right proper glutenfog. It is in this state that we realize that neither of us know how to get to the eastern terminus of the Hayduke- it seems to be at an arbitrary spot in the middle of a dirt road miles from the highway- do we need, like, a jeep to get there? Luckily the Hayduke has 3 eastern termini, one of them being near the airport for people who fly into the airport and want to start walking from there. This terminus is easy to get to, so Ole drives us there and drops us at the Klondike Bluffs trailhead. It’s 5:30 by this point, we’ve got just a little over two hours of light. The land is piled-up lumpkins of smooth red rock and deep red sand almost as fine as the air. We walk cross-country over these lumpkins, which are stacked and strewn every which way, and through this sand, and sometimes there is a bit of jeep road, or a cactus patch, and that is what we do. The sun is bright but the weather is cool, and I’m wearing pants (pants!) and a long-sleeve desert shirt and a bucket hat, which at first I thought was cool in a dorky way, but now I just feel dorky. I feel like someone dressed up as a “hiker” for halloween. But hey, the sun is bright AF on the Hayduke. I’m 33 and feeling societal pressure to slow the aging process. So.

I’m in a horrid mood at first. For whatever reason. I can’t stop thinking about all the things I can’t control, and there are a lot of them. But then I realize I’m hiking and that is fun and the sun begins to set beautifully behind the lumpkins and I’m out here in this peaceful place with a dude I really like to hang out with and I get to eat noodles for dinner. And later there will be stars.

We camp in the fine warm sand and the night is cold. Just a little bit of Hayduke so far.

Photos on instagram