Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From Zion

From Zion:
HT Section: 48m

I spent 2 1/2 days planning for the Hayduke Trail and somewhat resting in Kanab with the Grands, Lint and S.O.L. It was a great time and being around my grandparents really was a relief for me.

On the 3rd morning, I awoke with a killer sore throat but we drove to the Hayduke western terminus anyways; I just had to start. We entered Zion NP and marveled at the landscape through the car windows. Eventually, we hit the turn off towards the Weeping Wall and we parked in a turn-out as no vehicles other than NPS buses were allowed further down that point. I hugged and kissed my Granny and she cried and told me to be careful. Touched by the moment, I said goodbye to everyone else. I thought I would hoof it but as I hit the bus-stop I thought the hell with it. The shuttle came soon enough for me to change my mind and I stepped up into a full boat. At Angel's Landing almost the whole boat exited. Left with only a couple sitting in front of me, I sat in a reflective state as the dude hollered back at me, "Where ya headin'?" I told him, "Arches!" 

He said, "Where the hell is that?" I told them of my trip on the HT. It felt good to communicate with other people. I guess I was prepared for a hike of no-one so chatting this couple up felt great.

I leapt off the shuttle feeling excited and trekked up the switchbacks adjacent the Weeping Wall. Pleasant walking ensued throughout the first half of the day. Rain and thunder soon came and I found myself huddled under the largest juniper I could find trying to avoid the marble-sized hail pelting me through the thick branches. I figured since I was getting soaked and cold getting pelted that I would continue walking along. It felt great to be hit with the otherwise annoying hail. What did I care? I was on trail on the Hayduke, what could be better?

I dried off with the intermittent sun as I encountered Checkerboard Mesa. Up a drainage I went occasionally getting spattered with rain. Enjoying my time, I rested under a large ponderosa with coverage from the rain as I observed big black ants crawl on my legs with the backdrop of slickrock domes gleaming in the distance. 

I followed cairns up to a slickrock ridge and scampered along it. Off route, I clambered down to the brink of a massive chasm, some 300 or so feet deep. The roar of the water down below infiltrated my airway and I stood hunched over in shock at the view I held in front of me. Abruptly, I stood up and paced up and down slickrock and sandstone looking for a way down. I really thought I was in the right place and felt perplexed and dumbfounded about what to do next. How the hell was I supposed to get down!? The guidebook stated 'ends in a small waterfall' but this was ridiculous! I moved swiftly climbing up and around exposed rock looking for a chute to skitter down. To no avail and I thought I better climb back up a drainage and head east until I found a way down to the East Virgin River. I was not to be rimrocked. About 2 hours later after scrambling and climbing, some class 4 or so, I found a small cairn. I had no idea what this meant, maybe a remnant of someone leaving a crumb to find their way back to somewhere, but I decided to follow it. Zig-zagging back and forth while descending I hit a rock chute and climbed my way down. The river boomed with a roar that reverberated of the narrow black-purply walls of the inner chasm. The noise soothed me and helped me to concentrate on the task at hand.

Standing in the river looking back up, I realizeI just scrambled down 'Fat Man's Misery,' the route I was supposed to initially be on. Whew! On route, finally!

I plodded in the river chasm for about 4 miles until I made camp in a red alcove arched over the river, by far the best campsite I think I had ever had so far in my hiking career. I slept soundly and deeply.

The next morning, I forded the East Virgin River one more time before attaining a plateau and walked along a sandy dirt road. Eventually, I hit Highway 389 and found a quick hitch into Colorado City. I had been warned me of its oddities but I was in know way prepared for what I was to see. I walked down a street and a slew of young girls all dressed in long dresses and cropped up hair playing around a wheel barrow dropped their jaws as they saw me approach. The immediately ran to their backyard and watched furtively through wooden slats. Then, every single vehicle that drove passed me slowed eerily down to a slow crawl to give me a snarly eye.

I walked into a convenience store and asked the woman if there was a market in town. She told me it had closed down but there was a health food place kitty-corner from her store. I made a botched re-supply between the 2 places, however, it would prove to be detrimental to the next section, for I couldn't piece together a sufficient re-supply for 5 days and 130m or so.

I left the town quickly. I felt alienated and not welcomed, though the woman at the convenience store sure was plenty helpful and kind. I do not need to judge the whole town, nevertheless, I knew I needed to move along quickly. I lumbered down the street awkwardly with my botched re-supply crammed in my backpack. I had to get out.

I could not attain a hitch from Colorado City and road walked back to the route, a miserable 6 miles later. I cowboy camped under a hollowed out juniper from the range cattle. Luckily for me, there was plenty of cow pies laying around to ply underneath my ground cloth for a pillow.