Twig Adventures

HayDay 0: Ramblings

This is a long post, to reflect on my preparations and travels prior to the hike. It encompasses several weeks, just to give an idea of how much pre-planning this hike involved. I spent some of the time visiting family and friends in Colorado, which was a good way to acclimate to the at altitude. I had planned to head to Utah sooner, checking out some day hikes as I placed food and water caches with Tom. But it was so bloody cold and snowy that I extended my stay in sunny (and kind of warm) CO. I spent the extra days at my friend Jolly Rancher’s home near Westcliffe \ Rosita. I met him on the Colorado Trail in 2017 and he’d become one of my long-time trail friends.

At around 9000 feet, a few walks up the hill from his house and some indoor aerobic exercises helped further build my fitness. Finally, I met up with Tom and we departed Colorado, but not without first dropping off some beers for The Trail Show podcast as we passed through Salida. We each donated some brews from our respective home towns…mine being the Florence Brewing Company. The show’s motto is “more beer, less gear.” If you listen to just one episode, you’ll understand.

Our first day in Utah was a Sunday and mostly uneventful. We drove through Hanksville, the first trail town we would hike to after Moab. We left a small resupply box with the RV park and continued on. We encountered some snow, but thankfully just a passing shower. Our next stop, Hite marina, was a true ghost town. Just a year prior, the store was stocked and open but now was already defunct and empty. The abandoned campground bathrooms were locked but the ranger station bathrooms were at least open. We stashed our resupply in a nearby culvert of sorts (standard practice by previous Haydukers), then looked for a place for the night. We shunned the $150 per night hotel\cabin rates in Hanksville…peak season had started. A pull-off and FS privy worked just fine for storing all the stuff in the back of the car overnight, clearing room for us to sleep inside. At least we didn’t sleep in the privy, but certainly considered it. We did hang out in it for a bit, having dinner and chatting. It was exceptionally clean and didn’t smell…. quite the ambiance for an evening meal.

A short hike to an overhang and pictograph (the Moki Queen) was just the wake-up call I needed to warm up the next morning, Day 2 in Utah. I don’t think it got below freezing inside the car but it was pretty cold. Clear skies revealed heaps of snow on the Henry Mountains…the same mountains we were supposed to go over in a few weeks. Yikes! PCT hikers weren’t the only ones with snow problems in 2023. Arizona and Utah had record levels too, affecting AZT, MRT, GET and Hayduke hikers alike. We drove over Boulder pass to Boulder UT to find huge drifts around 9000 feet. The snow level extended to between 6000-6500 ft in the area. This didn’t bode well for us.

We drove a long lonely road out to the Burr trailhead, Capitol Reef National Park, to cache some more food and water, then came right back the same way. We stopped in Escalante to leave some more resupplies with the outfitter. There was a restaurant attached that had excellent pizzas, which solved my dinner and breakfast needs. We headed on towards our last cache but it was getting late. Locals had warned us about the muddy and rutted road, and we found their advice to be accurate. We pulled over to the side in a desolate windswept spot and quickly crawled into the back of the car, shutting out the cold as best we could. We needed to wait until early morning, when the mud would be frozen, making the road more passable.

Sure enough, it was 19 degrees overnight, 23 inside the car. We were able to drive far enough to where we could bury our food… a shallow grave since the ground was so frozen.  We didn’t make it all the way to Grosvenor arch as planned, but the cache site was still along our route. We made haste getting out of there, before the road melted and we risked getting stuck. I was so grateful to arrive Tropic, where a hot breakfast and coffee really hit the spot. We also dropped off our last little bit of food and I bought thick socks to wear for sleeping. I ended up using them the whole hike and they were a godsend!

Caching chores done (for the first part of the hike), we headed towards Kanab. We went through Bryce National Park on the way and saw nothing but many feet of snow. We suspected that we would need to skip our planned leg through Bryce but wouldn’t have to decide this until weeks later. We dropped several thousand feet into Kanab and it was like suddenly getting plunged into spring. The temps finally climbed above 50 degrees F and we celebrated by getting a hotel room for the night, go figure. Prices were the cheapest we’d seen thus far and we both wanted a hot shower. Based on how cold the car trip had been, I pondered how desperate was I going to feel after weeks of hiking in the cold?

Everything finally fell into place in the last few days. Last minute, we were able to get a storage space for the car in Kanab, after joining a waiting list months prior. Perfect timing! The site was a few miles outside of town but in the direction we needed to hitch to St George. We gathered our essential gear and locked the excess away in the car, hopefully to be seen in another month or so. Freed of all burdens but our packs, we returned to the familiar hiker mode of transportation: begging for a ride. I had no expectations for this hitch and had I realized just how far it was, I would have been sweating it a lot more. True to my hitching luck over several decades, a ride stopped within 5 minutes. I say this every time, but even still I was surprised by my luck.

Debbie was a lovely lady from New Mexico on her way back to her home in Las Vegas. She’d had car troubles after an oil service went awry …the filter had been placed incorrectly. Some very kind people had helped her troubleshoot and tow the car to Page and now she felt motivated to turn her troubles into a chance to help us out. Lemons and lemonade. We gave back by trading stories and leaving her a 20 spot for gas. She was most happy since it was enough to buy her last tank, after being short due to the unexpected break down.  She even offered her phone number in case we needed further help. I often note that it’s the people most down on their luck that are the most generous.

Our stroke of luck continued in St George. I’d been in touch with my PCT friend Plants for awhile, since he also hiked the Hayduke in 2021. I knew that he and his partner Kay were visiting Utah and Arizona for the month, but wasn’t exactly sure where they were based. We’d just missed them around the Moab area, so I sent another message asking of their location. They were also in St George with an apartment rented for the month, go figure! They offered us their place to stay and we countered by buying them dinner. It was great to see Plants again. The last time I’d seen him had been somewhere in Northern California, but we’d kept in touch and he’d shared helpful information the rest of the PCT (and also for the Hayduke). I was always trying to catch up to him but never could. He was the first of our original Trail Family to finish the PCT.


We stayed 2 nights in St George with Plants and Kay. On the interim day, we explored the area on foot, visiting a beautiful desert botanical garden and a red rock park just outside of town. Plants made an incredible vegan meal on the second night and we were so grateful for the nourishing food to see us off on our adventure.

Practicing my slickrock climbing up built-in moki steps

We caught a Greyhound bus to Green River early Friday morning, our 6th day in Utah and final leg of this rambling pre-journey. We hoped to start hiking in the afternoon, but this depended on more luck getting a hitch to Moab. The bus was of course 2 hours late and very full. Greyhound buses are just the worst, but we didn’t have any better options. At least I made friends with the nice lady I sat next to, Fonda. She was a hoot.

The bus dumped us in the center of town, a long way from a good hitching spot. Green River was the most unappealing town I’d walked through in awhile. Everything looked pretty run down. We had to walk 2 miles west towards the interstate to find some traffic that might be going our way. Then we stood outside the busy truck stop for several hours before we finally got a ride. Hitching in the vicinity of an interstate is the absolute worst! No one understood that we’re just hikers…to them we were probably sketchy transients. Finally we got lucky with a sweet older couple, Kent and Sheila, who were going back to Moab where they lived. They’d come all the way to the truck stop just to get Arby’s.

They drove us right to the Gearhead store in Moab, where we’d planned to leave some extra items. It was across from City Market, so I was able to shop for the rest of the food I needed for 2 days. Also, while all our travels were unfolding, I’d made acquaintances and been in contact with 2 other Hayduke hikers, Leah and Sky. They’d just finished the first section through Arches and were spending the night in town. We arranged to meet up at the store and just like that, we began our Hayduke hiking bubble.

We swapped some info and hung out for a bit. I scarfed down the second half of my subway for dinner and was ready for bed. Leah conveniently had a rental car and drove us north towards our planned stealth site. Being Jeep Safari weekend, we didn’t figure we stood a chance of getting a reasonably priced hotel room. Plus, I was ready to go camping…I had yet to sleep in my tent this trip. We cleaned up a bit in the Lions Park restrooms, walked the pedestrian bridge across the Colorado river, and found a nice stealth site up a wash. The nearly full moon was out and the overhang of the canyon had a small hole, a precursor to the day of arches yet to come. It seemed like a good omen.

The yin and yang of the Hayduke…finding balance in a world of contrasts


  1. Helloooo Twig ,
    Sounds like great preparations, and an awesome, but challenging adventure is afoot❣️????????
    As usual, Twig, wonderful story telling❣️❤️
    Love you❣️
    Marlene, aka, emoji ????

  2. I needed an adventure to live vicariously through! Thanks for the work you put in to write this all up.

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