Hayduke Trail Day 36: Following the Cowboys through the Coconino Sandstone

Daily Neat Beat
Day 36
Total Miles: 3.1
Cumulative Miles: 616.8
Map of hike from campsite north of Parissawampits to the vehicle parked at Crazy Jug Point

It is raining when we wake up in the morning and I think about how few days it has rained when we have been out on the trail. 

Fog and mist pouring down from above the Coconino Sandstone

This is only the third time in 36 days of hiking on the Hayduke that we have had rain. We have had plenty of windy and cold days though. 

Looking south towards Steamboat Mountain and Powell Plateau from the cowboy trail

Today should be relatively easy and short as long as we can find the old cowboy trail and way through the Coconino Sandstone. We are only about 3 miles away from our vehicle parked at Crazy Jug Point but have to climb up 1500 feet from our camp here on the Esplanade Sandstone. I worry a little about the Hermit Shale turning muddy in the rain and whether there will be exposure through the Coconino Sandstone but that is all part of the adventure.

 
We bushwhack our way to the head of Crazy Jug Canyon armed with a few waypoints from the book Grand Canyoneering by Todd Martin. We find the trail pretty easily in the Hermit Shale but getting through the Coconino looks like a challenge. The Coconino Sandstone here, and in most places, forms a sandstone cliff. Here the cliff is about 300 feet high and it doesn’t look like there is a way through it. But there is a crack you don’t see coming up the slope through the Hermit Shale until you are almost there.  It is a sweet route.
Ray hiking the switchbacks through the crack in the Coconino Sandstone

The cowboys built some nice switchbacks through the crack. 

Looking back down the crack through the Coconino Sandstone

There are signs that this trail was used prehistorically as well with a few pictographs, most likely Cave Valley or Snake Gulch style, painted above an overhang and cave. 

Pictographs along the Big Saddle Cowboy Trail

 Once through the crack, the trail travels across a few scree slopes through the Kaibab Limestone and then up onto the plateau. These routes are marked and and have been used for many years between time and space. For a moment I feel like part of that continuum. Then we are out on top. It is an easy walk to the car from here.

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