Hayduke trail day 57: hot miles to our cache

May 13
Mileage: 25
766 miles hiked

I wake just before it’s light on the bench of dry grass above the bouldery wash to a great buzzing; someone is pollinating the flowering mesquite branches that hang over us. Suddenly, bats are everywhere- swooping! Swooping! Someone needs to be pollinated and someone else is pollinating and someone else is eating the pollinators! Oh the drama!! Also I think about bats. Birds and bats- there’s two seperate takes on flying. One is a reptile that sings and has beautiful plumage. The other is blind and only does stuff at night, like a mole that was gifted wings. Strange that they both evolved. Why not just birds. Maybe working the night shift has always been the bat’s edge.

We’re hiking by 6:30 a.m., which is about a half hour early for us. We’re motivated by the heat. We know it’s coming! And soon we’ll be out of Kanab Creek Canyon and in the much broader Hack Canyon, where there is no shade.

The cool thing about the remaining miles this morning in Kanab Creek is that after Showerbath Spring, the house-size boulders are gone. The house-size boulders are gone!! Future Haydukers take note- Showerbath Spring is where the beautiful, arduous 1mph suffering that has characterized your time in the Grand Canyon officially ends, and you can now cruise 2mph on regular, toaster-sized boulders. The unfortunate thing, however, is that the creek itself has dissapeared save for the occasional pothole, and we know that these will also soon cease. So we fill up to max capacity (6.5 liters for me) for the 25 miles in the heat to our cache, where we’ve stashed some more water to get us through the last 10 miles of this 40 mile dry stretch. (Although we do end up finding water in a side canyon on the left off Kanab Creek just past Jumpup Canyon, and then water flows again, mysteriously, for two miles north of where Kanab Creek intersects with Chamberlain Canyon.)

As we hike, I wonder where all the giant boulders have gone. Did flash floods wash them all downstream? Are the sheer walls now made of a different type of rock? I wish I knew more things.

Carrying 13lbs of water in 100 degree heat sucks. We stop a lot to rest in cool dark patches of canyonshade. We both just have a couple of bars each left for today, so we’re hungry, and that sucks too. But! There’s nothing to climb over with my arms or wade through or jump down off of, and that feels very restful. I’m only using my legs today! We turn into Hack Canyon and things open up super wide, with cruisy trails alongside the wash built by cows (The American way!), and the sun heats up more and there’s sweat dripping off my forehead onto my sunglasses, smearing them, but I can listen to audiobooks so I don’t care. We’re officially out of Grand Canyon National Park now- that feels like something. Oh, Grand Canyon, how I underestimated you! You wild thing, you snarling wondrous beast. May you never be tamed. May you always be protected, may your boulders and tangles and sheer cliffs always block the way to your most secret wonders!

Shortly the trail becomes good dirt road in this large open sun-roasted canyon and we absolutely cruise, minus the periods when we collapse into patches of shade in ravines and almost fall asleep. I eat the last half of my last bar six miles before our cache and then I can feel my blood sugar start to drop, I’m gettin kinda dizzy, but canyonshade has stretched across the road again and the air is cooling and I pretend I’m in the last mile of a marathon and there will be cold gummy bears and bottles of gatorade waiting for me at the end.

We scratch our cache from the earth with our fingers and sit beneath a juniper tree eating salt and vinegar chips on the sagebrush hillside until the sun sinks so low that even the cow patties cast shadows. Just 25 miles to the highway tomorrow, where we’ll hitch into Hurricaine. I hear there’s a cheap motel and a buffet there…

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