Hayduke trail day 33: Bryce is nice

April 19
Mileage: 13
464 miles hiked

I sleep terribly in the big warm soft amazing motel bed. I’ve gotten to that point on trail where I can only sleep well on the ground! Oh, the irony!

Eventually the good sun rises as it is wont to do and I eat many titanium potfuls of rice chex in almondmilk and Dan makes a styrofoam cup of motel coffee and then the post office finally opens at the ancient hour of 8 a.m., as post offices are wont to do. I get my new pack! It turns out I’ve ordered it just in the nick of time- while I’ve successfully mended all the large tears in the extension collar and side pockets of my old pack with duct tape and dental floss, there are half a dozen new ones lookin to grow larger, and there are so many holes in the front mesh pocket that I probably shouldn’t be storing things in there.

My new pack is built like a tank! That’s cool. This pack would be overkill for the PCT or CDT, but for the Hayduke it’s juuuuust right.

It’s noon when we leave Tropic. We walk up, up into cool ponderosa forest, and then we’re on a path, and suddenly we’re on the paved rim trail in Bryce looking down at all the clusters of ember-colored hoodoos and spires while clean people take selfies all around us. The clean people have selfie sticks- I wish I had a selfie stick! The way we have to sort of wait our turn at the various lookout points and the unselfconsciousness of the selfie-takers actually fills me with secret joy. These people could be playing video games or watching netflix or sportsball or at the mall. They could be shopping online for shoes or scrolling facebook or doing lines of coke at a bar. Instead they’re here, just to look at a bunch of rocks that are beautiful. Dan hates the crowded rim trail. He actually says “I wish we hadn’t taken the rim trail.” Dan wants the peaceful wilderness experience. I like that too, but I also find the spectacle here fascinating and reassuring. We’re on the brink of environmental collapse because, as an almost entirely urban culture, we don’t give two fucks about nature things. And yet hundreds of people drove long distances to come here, as though traveling to a very important temple. They came to pay homage to nature/god/the mystery. They wanted to feel small and in awe. It feels spiritual, like the paved Bryce canyon rim trail and its adjoining parking lots and lodge are an elaborate temple built to honor the hoodoo nature gods, and the tourists are here to worship. Of course it’s crowded! Famous international temples are always crowded. Oh the humanity of it! It’s beautiful!

I can’t stop taking photos. These rock spire things are so fucking rad, and the light- oh god the light! I feel like I’m stuck in an obsessive-compulsive infinite loop of photo taking. Or maybe the whole Hayduke makes me feel this way. I’ve taken 2,200 photos on this trail so far. I don’t know much about photography, but I do know that if you take a shitload of photos you sometimes get lucky.

Our snail crawl around the rim ends, much to Dan’s delight, and we drop down back into Ponderosa forest on neatly groomed trail. We pound this trail as the sun drops and sets the tips of the hoodoos on fire, like matchsticks. Camp is next to burbling, clear, non-alkaline yellow creek. There are posters everywhere warning us of mountain lion activity, and begging us to please fight back if we are attacked. Also no crouching, back turning or running, and please lift children into the air to make them appear larger.

“The mountain lion’s name is Sabrina,” I say in fake park ranger voice. “Sabrina knows “down”, but not “off”. If she jumps up, please tell her to “Go lay down”. Sabrina is allowed to sleep at the foot of your sleeping bag, but not inside of your sleeping bag. And please, please don’t allow her to maul you to death.”

Photos on instagram