Hayduke trail 43: cruisin in the cold on the Kaibab

April 29
Mileage: 11
570 miles hiked

It’s 7:30 a.m. Hayduke time, 6:30 a.m. Arizona Trail time, when we drop Bubs, DropNRoll and Joey off at the privy in the snowy wood where once we found them. It’s been fun to be around other hikers/humans for a few days, with all of their fresh stories and novel speech patterns. Today I’ll retreat back into the warm quiet togetherness I have with Dan, wherein we pass many hours in silence in the woods, but, like, together. We’re slowly building a house where our relationship can live, as one does. The bricks are made of inside jokes, shared experiences, and trust exercises, aka moments of intense stress where neither of us turns into an asshole. It’s a good house, so far. It’s a safe house. I like it here.

We say goodbye to our friends as they march bravely into the biting cold in all their layers. It’s 29 degrees, and the sunrise sparkles on the snow. I shiver back into the car. This point, the point where the Hayduke trail first meets the rim of the Grand Canyon, seems to be the coldest spot. We won’t be here for a couple of days- maybe the worst of the storm will have passed by then?

Back in Kanab I set out to find some more layers. In the freebox at the laundromat I find a mint-green fleece shirt that is a little too big. At the thrift store down the road I find a pair of old, bright orange women’s polyester long underwear that are a little too small. Thus outfitted, we eat a massive lunch at Escobar’s, the local Mexican place of  which I am fond, and then return Dan’s car to storage. Time to hitch.

It only takes us 40 minutes to catch a ride back to Jacob Lake, where we got off the trail. This is like a speed record for us. For some reason, it usually takes us at least an hour and a half to get a ride when hitching. Our three friends, on the other hand, seem always to get picked up immediately. Oh well.

It’s cold on the Kaibab plateau at 2 p.m. when we finally start to hike, cold enough to wear most of my layers, but it’s not actively precipitating. For this I am grateful. This fine luck follows us all afternoon, as we cruise through the ponderosa forest on the Arizona trail in the biting-cold sunshine. The wind picks up right before camp, and we drop down into a gully to find a sheltered spot. We’ve had great luck, on this trail, with finding camp spots out of the wind. Or maybe it’s not luck- maybe I’ve finally, after 8,000 miles of hiking, figured out how to choose a campsite.

We’re in a burn, and the wind howls through the dead trees as the temperature drops. We’re safe below the wind, in this gully on a flat patch of grass that the cows seem to like. But boy, can we hear it whistle and howl. We’re bedded down after dinner when we hear the gentle rustle of snowflakes on cuben fiber. It’s snowing, then. How many days until we drop below the rim, where it’s warmer? Two? I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Photos on instagram