Hayduke trail day 24: bouldering in Monday Canyon

April 10
Mileage: 16
324 miles hiked

We need a better word for what we do on the Hayduke. “Hiking” is too mild. Canyoneering, that works a little better?

Steep climb on an eroded horse trail first thing in the morning, the rest of the way up to the top of 50 Mile Bench. Then we’re on the ubiquitous sagebrush plateau, following faint horse trails to two springs- mudhole spring and pocket hollow spring- both are deep troughs of clear good water, non-alkaline! Mudhole spring is in a surprise aspen grove, the sun is out but it’s cool. I sit in the dirt and chug a liter. Best tasting water we’ve had on the Hayduke so far. As far as the water chart goes, we should fill up here for the next 30 miles, enough to get to Last Chance creek. But it’s been raining, and last year’s hikers, who were hiking in a drier year than us, found rainwater potholes in the slickrock of Monday canyon. So I figure we’ll have water all day.

Monday canyon. Narrow, winding, absolutely beautiful, and on-and-off choked with house-sized and refrigerator-sized boulders. We pick our way down the wash, using our whole bodies. Lifting, heaving, sliding, scrambling. Looking for ways down pouroffs, climbing up into the rocky canyon wall to contour around things. Slow, slow, slow. About 1mph slow. I don’t mind. I don’t mind this pace at all, as long as I relax into it. There are potholes of non-alkaline rainwater to drink, and I’m only carrying 4 days of food, since we have our cache partway through this section. So my pack is relatively light. The weather is sunny and cool, the cliffs are intesting to look at. I have a fantastic hiking partner. There is so much to be grateful for. Scrabble, slide, heave. Bouldering. Making my way.

After Monday Canyon we turn into Rogers Canyon for the last bit of the day. The first part of Rogers is boulder-choked too- and it has a stream running through it, to complicate things more. The water in the stream is definitely alkaline- white residue coats the rocks. But everything, other hikers say, is alkaline in this section- except for the rainwater potholes, and I’m not sure when I’ll see those again. So, we have to drink it.

The storm we’ve been watching curdle on the horizon finally blows in just before it’s time to camp. Wind! Wind! Wind! The tent goes up and we go inside, just as the rain starts to fall. I watch the storm rattle the cuben fiber, and put anti-itch gel on my poison ivy burbles. I discover that my fuel bottle, which is a soda bottle I keep in the outside mesh pocket of my pack, developed a hole today, probably while scooting down boulders, and half of my fuel has leaked out. This means… just enough for dinner, no tea until our cache. That’s ok. Bring it on, Hayduke! What else ya got?

The water is so alkaline it makes both our dinners taste bad. This is the most alkaline water we’ve drank since the first spring. I hope I don’t get so sick I have to take a day off, like I did then. Oh well, I guess find out.

Photos on instagram