Hayduke Trail Day 41: Home on the Range, Crossing to Zion

Daily Neat Beat
Day 41
Total Miles: 11.5
Cumulative Miles: 674.4
Map of Hayduke Trail Day 41: from head of Hack Canyon to Yellowstone Spring on the Arizona Strip
“We are headed to Yellowstone”, Ray tells the guy in a white truck with a camouflage ATV in the back. The guy looks at us like we are crazy. “Err, Yellowstone Spring” I quickly clarify, “you know, the one that is about 11 miles from here”. “I thought you guys might need a ride” he says. “Did your car break down?”. My belief in humanity is once again renewed. We were not even looking for a ride yet he turned off the main dirt road when he saw us walking towards it to help. People take care of each other out here.
Cows and calves on the Arizona Strip

Of course he is right to assume no one in their right mind would voluntarily be hiking here. We have left the beautiful side canyons of the Grand Canyon and are now in the open sage country where the only wildlife are cows, and dust gets in your teeth. It is the “in between” where we cross a wide desert valley of sagebrush to get from the Grand Canyon to Zion National Park. 

This cow looked very pregnant!

We could have skipped this part as we have been hiking the Hayduke using a two car shuttle. But we are purists, we both feel we need to hike a connected line from Arches to Zion. Never mind that the Hayduke meanders all over the place and that alternate routes are encouraged. It has to be a connected hiking route that is hiked, for us at least. Hike your own hike as people fondly like to say. 

Ray hiking the fence line. We are headed for those mountains way off in the distance.

Ray tries to explain what we are doing to the guy in the pickup. He waves his arms around “we are doing a LONG hike and started in Arches National Park about two months ago. We are headed to Zion and, thanks, but we don’t need a ride.”

Maybe we should have just left it as we are headed to Yellowstone. Now he really looks perplexed.
 
The guy in the truck finally takes off, convinced that we are crazy but don’t need to be rescued. He got his turkey that morning and these two he will leave beside the road.
 
It is a short day for us as we are stopping at one of the only springs in this “home on the range” valley and we will be following dirt roads. It feels relaxing and pretty soon Ray and I go into our “kid curiosity” mode where  we get absorbed in what is happening around us.
“What are these holes in the road? They look like tiny kivas” I say to Ray.
Pencil-sized holes with built up clay around them in the road.

We are now both down on our hands and knees looking at these pencil-sized holes with clay built up around them in the dirt road. Good thing Mr. White Truck doesn’t see us now, both of us with our hands in the dirt, kneeling in the road.

A digger bee backing out of one of the holes
A digger bee flying away from it’s nest

Pretty soon an insect butt appears in the hole and what looks like a honey bee pulls out and flies away. Only it isn’t a honeybee, it’s a digger bee, probably a female, who has just been digging with her jaws and legs, by herself, to make a nest. Digger bees are the industrious cousin to the honey bee. No worker bees to help her with the nest. No “Queen Bee” status here.

Digger bees aren’t our only entertainment today.  Two pronghorns are startled by our presence and take off at a full gallop. They move effortlessly through the landscape. I imagine if you put a plate on one of their heads, it would stay on even when they are at a full gallop. There is no jerking or bouncing in their movement.
Pronghorns running through the grasses and sagebrush

These two run and stop behind a juniper tree and peer around to see if we see them. I feel like we are playing hide and seek only for them it is survival.

Collapsed soils in the road.

The day continues with more fun and discovery. We spot two horned lizards trying to blend into their surroundings. I had read that when a horned lizard feels threatened by a predator it will shoot blood out of its eye sockets. We moved the grass away from the second lizard to take a picture and it closes its eyes. Maybe it was getting ready to shoot blood and would have if we had tried to pick it up. But we leave it be.

A Greater Short-Horned Lizard
A Desert Short-Horned Lizard. This one was closing it’s eyes when I pulled away the grasses. Maybe it was getting ready to shoot blood….

We get to Yellowstone Spring which is actually quite a pretty spot with a ridge with yellow and red sandstone outcrops.

The Yellowstone Spring area

There is a fault that goes right up the little valley where the spring is. Ray and I settle in and eat our dinners and afterwards are enjoying the evening when Ray says “don’t come unglued but look at what I found”. He points to a projectile point that is in perfect condition, over 4 inches long with a rounded stem. Of course I come unglued! What an amazing find. We speculate about the age and what animals it might have been used to hunt. The spring and surrounding outcrops create such a perfect place to trap animals. We spend the next hour looking around and find little pieces of pottery and chips but nothing like the point Ray found. I dream of our ancestors that night. Pronghorn? Deer? What were they hunting….

An intact projectile point that is over 4 inches long.

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