Hayduke trail day 36: In & Out of Kanab

April 22
Mileage: 4
518 miles hiked

The moon is so bright all night and I keep waking as though at dawn but instead of the sun I find the moon hanging there, and the sagebrush casting long moonshadow across the sand and I think The sun has died and so all we have, now, is the moon with its silvery cold light, and what kind of a life is that? What kind of world would that be. I want to wake Dan and say The sun has died but I drift back asleep each time in the swirling current where dreams and reason meet. When the sun does at last send the pink clouds of dawn to harken its coming the moon still hangs there on the western horizon. O steadfast lantern moon, you make the coyotes howl and the rabbits dart around  in the sagebrush, popping up everywhere like popcorn. I sit up in my sleeping bag in the cold and eat half a smashed bar (after a few days, all my bars look as though I’ve sat on them) and watch the egg-yolk sun poke above one horizon as the moon sinks demurely beneath the other.

It doesn’t take us long to get a ride into Kanab. A dad and his two sons in a sedan offer up what little space they have and we squish into the backseat with our packs on our laps, much to the annoyance of the youngest son. I imagine the father telling the boys after they drop us off:

“Remember kids. Always pick up hitchhikers.”

In the car, the father tells us that Prince has died. Wait, what? I feel sad and unnerved. It’s so strange when celebrities die. They’re not mortals like us. Therefore they can’t die. Right? Celebrities belong to us. The world just has a Prince. Except now it no longer does. I feel sad that maybe he was sad, like he was unhappy in life, secretly. Poor Prince!

In Kanab we Do All the Things. We’re trying to get back to the trail today, so that we can for sure finish this 40 mile section by the time Dan’s parents get in late on the 24th. Dan’s parents are coming to visit! We’re going to take a few days off to hang out with them and be tourists. It’ll be very restful. I’m looking forward to it.

A note on how we’re hiking the Hayduke: the original Hayduke is 800 miles. We’ve added a bunch of extensions and longer alternates that are becoming popular with Hayduke hikers, as they allow a person to see more/more scenic areas of the land, and so the trail we’re hiking will end up being 900-something miles. One popular extension is the Buckskin Gulch/Paria River alternate. We’d originally planned on doing it, but will now stick to the original Hayduke, as it’s shorter and so will work better with the timing of when Dan’s parents will be here. We’ve also already hiked Buckskin Gulch, aka the world’s longest slot canyon, in December. But we still might get to go there again anyway, with Dan’s parents, as day-hiking tourists! Which would be really fun, in its own way.

Kanab is eating a lot of food and resupply and picking up my new poles and platy bladder and eating more food and then standing in the hot sun with our thumbs out roasting while the cars blow past and nobody stops for us. There aren’t that many places in the country where people are still freaked out by tattoos, but I think that Utah might be one of them. I think we’d have better luck if I was wearing a long sleeve shirt. Or maybe if I hid in the bushes while Dan hitched?

At last, at 4:30, we get a ride in the back of a jeep which, I didn’t know this- is a really windy place to sit. Our driver takes us all the way back to Buckskin Wash (which will eventually turn into the popular part of Buckskin Gulch, after we turn off tomorrow) and bodes us farewell. It’s hot, and I want to nap much more than I want to hike, and we’re carrying 6 liters of water each so our packs are heavy, but soon the high canyon walls cast cool shade along the hard-packed sand and walking is peaceful and good. We camp early so that we can chill for a bit and just sort of space out in the nature in a way that can be surprisingly hard to come by, on a thru-hike. It’s warm and we lay our (flattened tent) groundsheet beneath a juniper tree, after kicking the cow patties out of the way. We heat water for our dinners as buffalo gnats bite our ears, and a bird whose song I’ve heard a million times on trail, but whose name I do not know, sings its evening song.

Photos on instagram