Hayduke trail day 32: pain level 9/cruisin into Tropic

April 18
Mileage: 14
451 miles hiked

I wake up when it’s still dark. I haven’t slept enough. Why does this happen sometimes? I’m so comfortable, on my tiny neo-air with my head on my mosquito net full of extra clothes and my feet balanced on my food bag. Everything is lined up just so, for maximum comfort. And yet I’m so… awake.

Eventually Dan is awake too. Time to hike!

There is a thing I did not consider. Yesterday we crossed the Paria river eleventy billion times, as we walked up the canyon. We were in the full sun, and the cold water was refreshing on our feet. Now, in the early morning, it’s bitter cold in the canyon, and we still have three more hours of icy Paria-walking to do.

Oh no.

I’m pretty sure that crossing icy streams hurts everyone’s feet. But for some reason, when it comes to my feet, the pain is really, really bad. Like level 9 on the pain scale bad. Especially if I have to cross several in a row. In 2014, I went through the Sierras on the PCT when there was still snow. One day I had to cross many icy streams in a row, while navigating across the snow. I actually cried. It was the second-worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. (The first-worst being the menstrual cramps I had in my early twenties, before I learned how to eat healthy. The pain was so bad I would vomit.)

But it’s the Hayduke- and the pain only lasts until the sun warms the canyon. I can take it, right?

I overestimate the sun’s power over these high canyon walls. Two hours later and it’s still icy in the canyon, and I am crying. Fucking blubbering, as I splash across the Paria for the 20th time this morning, level-9 pain on the pain scale radiating up through my body. I’ve actually been crying for like an hour. Dan has no idea what the fuck to do. It hurts so fucking bad, but I don’t want to stop. The river’s gonna warm up any minute, right?

Finally the sun rises high enough to warm a bit of sand and I collapse, wrench off my shoes, and start the slow process of re-warming my feet. I feel almost traumatized. I have no idea why the water hurts my feet so fucking bad. I think Dan is traumatized from watching me cry. We both need a nap now, so we lay on the sand for almost an hour, dozing. The sun grows warmer, and then it’s like the bitter cold morning never happened. Hayduke, LOL!

We cruise up the rest of the Paria to Sheep Creek, which is a side canyon of sheer yellow slanted rock. The winding canyon floor of Sheep Creek is good hard sand with a nasty alkaline silty mud-creek running down the middle. We walk up this, listening to podcasts and staring at the pretty rock, until we reach a dirt road. The dirt road takes us to a short stretch of highway walking, and by afternoon we’re in the town of Tropic.

Tropic is like three buildings. I think they’re all owned by mormons? For less than what we’ve paid in the last three towns we score a small cabin with its own bathroom and a good window that lets light in onto the big comfortable bed. And a heater! I am grateful for this heater, as it is suddenly very fucking cold. Fat stormclouds bury the sun and a wind beats at the side of the cabin. Oh, the glory of the indoors.

Also- Spark wrote a thing for the Appalachian Trials blog!!!

Photos on instagram