Hayduke trail day 16: not Mt. Ellen

April 2
Mileage: 25
224 miles hiked

A 25 mile day on the Hayduke, they said it couldn’t be done. To be honest, we are only able to crush this almost-as-fast-as-a-regular-thru-hike mileage because we do not summit Mount Ellen, on account of the snow. Whereas Mt. Ellen requires a long, scrubby, 1mph cross-country traverse, all but two miles of the lower route is on good dirt roads, albeit dirt roads that climb steadily for much of the day, and we are able to maintain a stunning 2.5 mph pace. (I saw “lower route” instead of “low route” because we still climb to 9,400 feet- so high that we are able to look down on almost the entirety of the Colorado Plateau, and wouldn’t you know that from up here it looks like a flat, barren wasteland, just a bunch of nothingness stretching all the way to the La Sals. The secret cracks are not apparent, the inverted mountain ranges. The deep canyons with their rivers and rattling cottonwoods and cliff dwellings. Whole worlds, with their spectacular intricacies, are hidden. What magic!)

Other things of note that happen today: we walk through pine forest, I consume a family size bag of barbecue lays potato chips in two sittings, the high-altitude sun roasts us, and we realize that this section is about 110 miles, not 140 like we thought. So, we have 90 miles’ worth of food waiting at a cache for us 50 miles in. Party time!

In the evening we actually manage to camp at water-  a rare thing on this trail. We pitch our tent on the frigid Tarantula Mesa alongside a cattle trough, and cook our little dinners in the dark.

Photos on instagram