Cumulative Miles: 160.8
Ray and I are good checks on each other. If either one of us has an insane idea usually the other person helps bring the other person back to reality. So last night when Ray said “what? You don’t know if Dark Canyon goes through between Woodenshoe and Young’s Canyon?” “Well yeah”, I said, “but it looks like it does on the map.” The canyon has some tight meanders with steep walls but the contours on the topo map in the drainage look far enough apart. So I had this part of the canyon in our alternate route plan.
It is frigid when we wake up in the morning. We are at 8600 feet elevation and even though it is springtime it is still winter up high. The frigid wind is blowing hard and we have all our layers of clothes on. I hold on to a corner of the tent while Ray tries to fold it. It is flapping so hard and really wants to blow down the road. Eventually we take off hiking in the snow and mud on the road which is at least frozen now. It must have gotten down in the mid 20s last night.
We spend most of the day hiking across the high bench. We actually see several other people out here. We stop and talk with two guys on ATVs that are out here collecting antlers. I’m sure they think we are insane. I first try to explain the Hayduke Trail but they understood it better when I said we were in Canyonlands yesterday and are hiking to Zion National Park. One guy says well you must have some special warm sleeping bags. Yeah it was a cold day.
One of the ATV guys dressed in camoflage and a hat with ear flaps offers us some crackers and cheese. This is the Hayduke version of a Trail Angel I think to myself. A “Trail Angel” is a person who supports thru hikers on their long journey. On the John Muir Trail, we heard of Trail Angels going up to Evolution Lake and setting up a taco stand. On the Colorado Trail we had Trail Angel Apple who had a tent with water, soda and snacks for thru hikers in a very dry section of the trail. Each trail has it’s own personality. So, yeah, a guy on an ATV in camoflauge offering us his crackers and cheese is the Hayduke version of a Trail Angel.
We find an old BLM field camp with a building, propane tank and pit toilet but no water. The spring is dried up. This is a little disheartening. Drier times in the southwest has meant things are changing. We are able to collect a few liters of water from some potholes in the sandstone from the recent rain. It will get us through the night in a pinch but we need to find water soon. I did not have coffee with my breakfast this morning and we are both a little dehydrated.